October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and at Liberty-Benton Local Schools we make this a focus of the educational experience we provide at all grade levels.
According to stopbullying.gov, between one in four and one in three U.S. students say they have been bullied at school. Added to that, 70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools. These numbers are unacceptable.
We place unwavering emphasis on bullying prevention in our schools and we know that bullying prevention starts with the idea that kindness matters – no matter how big or small the child or the act of kindness.
This is why we start bullying prevention awareness in kindergarten with Second Step, a program that addresses bullying as well as focuses on developing empathy, social problem solving and regulating feelings. In grades 3-5, we use Steps to Respect, a program that not only identifies what bullying is, but how to report it and what bystanders can do. Research shows that when bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time. By instilling these values early, the goal is to set a strong foundation and culture of respect in our students and schools.
We continue this steady drumbeat of empowerment and awareness into middle school, where statistics show that most bullying happens. We also focus on relationships by taking a systematic, intentional approach to ensuring every student has at least one adult advocate at school who is helpful and vested in the success of that child. According to one study, only about 20-30% of students who are bullied notify adults about the bullying, so ensuring each student has an adult invested in his or her safety and wellbeing is paramount to the child’s success in school. We also partner with Hancock Youth Prevention Education (HYPE) – a countywide club. At Liberty-Benton, our HYPE club is called HAPPY (Healthy Choice, Always Striving for Good Character, Positive Role Model, Proud to be Me, Youth Can Make a Difference) and students participate in activities focused on healthy choices and kindness throughout the year.
And at the high school, all Liberty-Benton students participate in STRIDES – Students Taking Roles In Developing Educational Success. This is a yearlong program where students are teamed up, intermixing grade levels to promote meeting and working with a variety of people. Throughout the year the students accomplish team-building activities as well as service projects.
As educators, we want to ensure that each and every person that walks through the doors of our school buildings feels safe, secure and welcome. Our goal is to provide a place where children not only learn, but grow and thrive. By offering these programs and spaces for our children to show and experience kindness, we hope we are combating bullying in our schools and giving our students the space, opportunities and guidance to be successful in the future, to soar.
Liberty-Benton Local Schools