Garden City school battles bullying
Do something kind each day. Don't stand by and watch someone be bullied. Get help from others.
Those are three of the simple measures in a broad program at Garden City Middle School, one that trains teachers and involves students in an effort to cut down on bullying by bringing it out in the open. Here's alook at how it works:
The eighth-grader at Garden City Middle School said, yes, she'd seen bullying there. Several times a popular school athlete bullied a smaller, scared boy in the lunchroom.
"My friends said, 'Did you hear what he said? He called him stupid,' " she recalled. "The lunch monitors told him, 'Go back to your seat and cut it out.' "
The eighth-grader said she would be afraid to confront a popular kid or tell an adult about the bullying, but said another student did bring it up in a discussion on bullying held each week in homeroom.
"We talked about it, and the leader of the group said how to stop it," she said.
The discussion groups are part of the school's anti-bullying program, one of dozens of programs by Long Island school districts determined to reduce bullying, which can involve physical, emotional or verbal abuse. Every person in the school is trained to recognize and act upon instances of bullying, said Principal Peter Osroff.
Students sign contracts pledging not to bully and to help others who are left out or bullied. Many students are active in groups like the Anti-Bullying Club and the daily Act of Kindness Challenge. Student Leadership members take anti-bullying coordinator Kimberly Greenwald's lesson plans on topics like Diversity and Acceptance and Cyber-Bullying back to their classrooms. And students learn to stop bullying by distracting the bully, defusing the situation with humor, enlisting help and supporting the victim.
"Before I wouldn't want to get involved because I thought it would affect me, too. Now I'm different," said Jenna Shipley, 12, recounting how she'd helped a boy being bullied on the school bus.
And when a classmate was being bullied at a locker, seventh-grader Yianni Flouskakos went into action.
"I stood next to the victim and supported him, I changed the subject with the bully and asked him about the test we'd just taken and then I walked away with the victim. He thanked me a lot."
And now, Yianni said, the boy who had been bullied "is also participating in the anti-bullying programs."