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ON EDUCATING LARUE: Schools take anti-bullying measures

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By Ron Benningfield

 More than 500 LaRue County public school students signed an anti-bullying pledge as part of Kentucky Safe Schools Week Oct. 21-27.

The Kentucky Center for Safe Schools named this year’s safety campaign ”Bullying: Be a Part of the Cure.”

The center’s goal was to encourage as many students and staff as possible to go on-line and take the pledge which read, “I pledge to do my part to stop bullying by caring more (considering others’ feelings); understanding all (appreciating others’ differences); respecting myself (learning to respect myself and others); and educating others (sharing that I will not bully or allow it).

Each LaRue County school participated in different ways. Abraham Lincoln students printed their online pledges and hung them in the school’s hallways.

“Ms. (Karen) Downs (ALES principal) and I were brainstorming about signing the CURE pledge,” Tina Southwood, ALES guidance counselor said. “We talked about putting the certificates up around the school when she said we can ‘hug’ the school with them and it transpired from there.”

Jamie Hines, Hodgenville Elementary’s student administrative manager, said her school invited a magician to talk about bullying while he entertained the students.

“Also, Matt Wellhelm has put on a bike show for the students about bullying and drugs,” she said. “We have posters in the school; we talk about bullying during lunch and we hand out no-bullying prizes.”

Jason Detre, LaRue County Middle School assistant principal, cited cyber bullying as the most prevalent type of intimidation.

“Social media has allowed bullying to happen 24 hours a day,” he said. “Students have access to each other after school, on the weekends and even over the breaks via cell phones and the Internet.”

LCMS staff, with an open door policy, encourage students to communicate what is happening in their lives, Detre said.

“Students understand that they can come to us with what they feel are bullying issues,” he said. “In addition, administrators attend and share information from professional conferences with staff regarding bullying.”

This month the school has participated in the anti-bullying campaign with a program that focuses on identifying bullying and the importance of communicating to adults if they are a victim or a witness to bullying.

“In addition, seminar classes created a poster to promote bullying prevention,” he said.

“Kellie Sandidge (guidance counselor) has resources to help students understand the effects of bullying and to help those who have been victims of bullying.”

Paul Mullins, LaRue County High School principal, said the school will help those who are bullied and will punish those who bully.

“Students should feel safe and supported; our task here is to help students who are bullied and let everyone know that we are not going to tolerate it at LCHS,” he said.

“We will investigate and work on each situation case by case. It's one of those challenges that we have to face and something we have to address to help our students.”

Mullins offered what other administrators echoed concerning ideas to lessen occurrences of bullying:

“Communication, understanding, and letting the victims know we are here to help and letting those doing the bullying know they will face consequences are all important to creating a safe and orderly environment.”