By WALTER SWAN
I would like to wish everyone a safe and successful New Year for 2013. It seems the start of a new year brings hope and excitement to begin new classes or see teachers recharged to get ready for the best half of the school year. I know that Cherokee Central Schools is ready for the new semester and that the teachers and staff were eagerly awaiting students to start 2013.
I also know that along with new beginnings, it also allows us to focus on areas that we can improve and make better for all students and staff. One area of concern for all schools across the United States and Indian Country is bullying. Stopping bullies requires an environment that discourages negative behavior by enforcing strong rules, and encourages children to seek support if they or one of their peers are bullied. Research and training on bullying shows that creating a school climate that not only has a zero tolerance policy, but also supports positive social interaction is the best way to identify and prevent bullying. Children who feel better about themselves are less likely to become victims of bullies and also more likely to tell a bully to back off.
“Bullying isn’t much fun if you don’t have an audience,” said Dr. Dewey Cornell, professor of psychology at University of Virginia. “When bystanders stand up and show they don’t approve of the bully’s behavior, then it disarms the bully.”
Feeling safe to share feelings at home, or to another trusted adult, is also critical for children who are victims of bullying.
“Children should not be taught that seeking help for bullying is a sign of weakness or a form of snitching,” Dr. Cornell said. “Real bullying, where someone has power and dominance over a victim is wrong, pure and simple.”
The professor said a mistake he often sees parents make is taking a “Spartan” approach to telling a child to go out and stand up to a bully. He said that approach can often backfire, because especially in school, any form of violence is not tolerated. The key is teaching children to resolve problems without resorting to violence. Also, children must be taught ways to disengage a bully by not allowing the bully’s behavior to negatively affect their emotions. Giving necessary attention to problems related to bullying require parental involvement. (For more information please see: http://www.ourhealthvirginia.com)
I have asked the high school, middle school and elementary principals to share their plans to help combat bullying so that Cherokee Central Schools can move forward to help create the best learning environment possible for all students. If you have any questions, I ask that you would contact the building level principal for guidance or help with their school bullying plan. Again, Happy New Year and have a great start to a great semester.