Stand up and stop bul­ly­ing

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - SCHOOL / SPORTS - AN­NETTE BEARD abeard@nwadg.com

“Stand up and stop bul­ly­ing!”

So be­gan the anti-bul­ly­ing as­sem­bly Fri­day in Pea Ridge Mid­dle School.

Peer me­di­a­tors and drama stu­dents hosted, cre­ated and per­formed the skits and pro­gram which be­gan with blind­folded stu­dents wear­ing black shirts walkin in car­ry­ing posters with var­i­ous neg­a­tive emo­tions felt by vic­tims of bul­ly­ing — lonely, scared, vul­ner­a­ble, iso­lated, de­feated, pain, de­spair, afraid, re­jected. Im­me­di­ately stu­dents wear­ing white shirts car­ry­ing posters with pos­i­tive emo­tions filed across the line, pair­ing with fel­low stu­dents and re­plac­ing the neg­a­tive emo­tions with pos­i­tive ones such as loved, re­laxed, joy­ful, ac­cepted, bold, hope, strength, sup­port, brave, friend­ship.

“There’s not just one type of bul­ly­ing… there’s phys­i­cal… there’s also ver­bal bul­ly­ing …” the moder­a­tor stated.

“It takes the power of one. It takes one per­son to stand up to a bully. Once one per­son stands up to a bully, more will fol­low.”

Peer me­di­a­tion is a lead­er­ship pro­gram in the school fo­cused on pos­i­tive peer re­la­tion­ships and pos­i­tive school cul­ture, school coun­selor Tina Robin­son ex­plained.

Part of the mis­sion of the peer me­di­a­tors is to erad­i­cate bul­ly­ing dis­trictwide, and they wanted to share their mis­sion as part of their cam­paign for Na­tional Bul­ly­ing Pre­ven­tion Month. The en­tire month of Oc­to­ber they will work with stu­dents in the district to raise aware­ness about bul­ly­ing and to con­nect stu­dents to re­sources if they or some­one they know ex­pe­ri­ences bul­ly­ing.

The theme of the as­sem­bly was “The Power of One,” and the mes­sage be­hind it was that ev­ery stu­dent has the power to make an im­pact on their school cul­ture and the power to make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of their peers, Robin­son said.

The peer me­di­a­tors re­ally wanted to em­pha­sis the re­spon­si­bil­ity that comes with that power which is why we wrapped the as­sem­bly up with the speech “The Power of Choice” dur­ing which the speaker, Pa­trick Meador, talked about how ev­ery stu­dent has a choice each day to ei­ther be a friend or a bully.

The stu­dents who par­tic­i­pated in the as­sem­bly also want to send the mes­sage that the choice is not some­thing that a stu­dent is faced with once, but a choice that they have to com­mit to mak­ing each day. To help pro­vide sup­port to stu­dents and to serve as a re­minder of the Power of Choice, the peer me­di­a­tors came up with a prom­ise that they shared with the stu­dents at the as­sem­bly.

The prom­ise is to be a stu­dent who stands up and says no to bul­ly­ing. They chal­lenged ev­ery­one to take this prom­ise with them with their mis­sion state­ment “One Team, One Town, One Heart, One Prom­ise.” The en­tire stu­dent body was chal­lenged to make this prom­ise at the end of the as­sem­bly.

“We are so proud of our stu­dents and their com­mit­ment to mak­ing our school a safe and en­rich­ing en­vi­ron­ment,” Robin­son said.

TIMES pho­to­graphs by An­nette Beard

Car­ry­ing signs la­bel­ing the var­i­ous neg­a­tive emo­tions a vic­tim of bul­ly­ing may feel, Pea Ridge Mid­dle School stu­dent peer me­di­a­tors be­gan an anti-bul­ly­ing pro­gram Fri­day af­ter­noon.

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