Marshall Junior High School students spent the last nine weeks learning about what to do when they are bullied or when they see someone else get bullied.
Assistant Principal Cindy Terry and School Social Worker Lynn Fronk came together to raise awareness about bullying. Terry said bullying was one of the top three reasons a student was referred to the office last year and she realized they needed to do something about it.
“We don’t want the kids to go through that,” she said. “And it’s not just about giving consequences to bullies but telling students what they can do when they see it happening.”
Fronk said anti-bullying curriculum was given to 100 percent of the student body through their elective courses.
“Our big thing was taking away the fear of reporting and that’s something that’s big in this age group. They tell us they aren’t suppose to tell. We’re showing them the different between tattling to get someone in trouble and telling to protect someone,” Fronk said.
Fronk said bullying peaks in seventh and eighth grade with more occurrences reported in those two years more than any other time in life.
“Bullying is seen across all cultures, all economic status. We’re all affected by bullying,” she said.
Fronk said faculty are working to educate, raise awareness and prevention about verbal, physical, emotional and cyber bullying.
During that nine weeks the students were asked to express their thoughts about bullying in an art form. Students either wrote an essay, made a poster or a brochure. School Social Worker Lynn Fronk said there were over 200 posters entered into the contest.
Seventh-grader Jordan Castillo, 13, made a poster about cyber bullying.
“All the teachers were talking about it. I just picked up their words and put them on there,” she said.
Castillo said she sees bullying at school.
“Now when I see it I don’t just stand by, I go tell,” she said. “We should all talk about it more.”
The school has initiated an “I Care” box that allows students to submit an anonymous note letting the faculty know when bullying happens.
Eighth grader Gabrielle Flavell said through the learning process, she found out that she had bullied students before.
“I’m not very proud of it and I want to stop it,” she said.
Flavell, 13, made a brochure about the four types of bullying, which was adopted by the school as the official anti-bullying brochure.
Eighth-grader Alexis Longoria wrote an essay on the topic. He said he wrote what was on his mind.
“What was on my mind was changing the mindset of people who have already decided that bullying is not that serious,” he said.
Longoria, 13, said bullying is serious because people who are bullied start to believe what bullies tell them.
“And that takes them to another mindset and they become insecure,” he said.
In his essay, Longoria wrote, “Students would be very hard working to fight against the current uncertainties and insecurities, which would keep them from things such as drugs, violence and suicide.”
Terry said the student’s essays and posters are reinforcing what they’ve learned.
Fronk said they are learning from the students about bullying.
“They’re telling us what works. They’re the ones walking in the shoes of a seventh-grader not us,” Fronk said.
Fronk said it’s important that people aren’t singled out.
“We’ve all been a bystander. We’re not pointing a finger at a few. We’re all trying to learn and be better together,” she said. “It’s very validating to kids to be heard and very empowering to tell and to know it will absolutely be addressed.”