Suffolk Public Schools joins both a state and national focus this month to promote awareness of school bullying. The Suffolk School Board passed a resolution last month to demonstrate how educators, community leaders and parents play a critical role in creating a climate where bullying is not tolerated. It has been proven that when adults and children stand together bullying ends.
Childhood bullying is a significant problem nationwide. It can cause school absenteeism, mental and physical stress, poor school performance, poor self-esteem, and in some cases, school violence or suicide. Statistics show that 160,000 children in the United States miss school each day as a result of being bullied. More than 20 percent of school-aged children report being bullied each year – upwards of 13 million students.
“More than one of every five school-aged children report being bullied,” said Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, which sponsors Unity Day and founded National Bullying Prevention Month in 2006. “It’s important these students know they are not alone and that they have the right to feel safe. By joining together and wearing ORANGE on Unity Day, we can send the unified message that we care about student’s physical and emotional health and that bullying will no longer be accepted in this society.”
Schools throughout SPS will participate in Unity Day by wearing orange on Wednesday, October 24. The theme is “Together against Bullying: United for Kindness, Acceptance, and Inclusion.” Wearing orange on Unity Day sends a powerful message of support, hope, and unity again bullying.
The bullying prevention efforts in Suffolk Public Schools include school-level campaigns, classroom discussions led by guidance counselors, and an expanding school-wide programs which teach, model and provide incentives for positive behavior.
In addition, the division has an anonymous Bullying Tip Line — (757) 538-5438 – and an online Bullying Complaint form. Information on what SPS considers to be bullying is highlighted at www.spsk12.net/programs/bullying-prevention as well as in the Student Handbook and the Student Code of Conduct.
Throughout the year, teachers and guidance counselors integrate discussions about bullying prevention in lessons at all grade levels. A few examples of school-level activities during this special focus month include:
- Learning about Buddy Benches, installed last year at each elementary school, where students who are lonely or upset can sit and others will know they need a buddy to cheer them up. (Suffolk Education Foundation project);
- Participating in anti-bullying discussions with deputies from the Suffolk Sheriff’s Department;
- Serving oranges at lunch on Mondays to support the school’s “orange dot” campaign to block out bullying (Creekside Elementary)
- Practicing the lessons from Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches, a book about how sneetches with stars on the bellies think they are better than plain-bellied sneetches (Florence Bowser Elementary);
- Creating a rainbow of positive messages from students and staff using colorful post-it notes, and demonstrating how each class will be bully-free with a door decorating contest (Hillpoint Elementary);
- Pledging to prevent bullying by writing your name on orange links to create a unity chain and creating handprints to lend a hand to spread kindness (Nansemond Parkway Elementary);
- Discussing the real-life story that inspired the 2017 movie “Wonder,” about a boy with facial deformities and his efforts to change how others see him. A family movie night is set for Oct. 25 (Oakland Elementary);
- Discovering through a featured assembly presentation “Bully No More” what to do if you are a bullet target or a witness to bullying, and how to recognize if you are being a bully (Pioneer Elementary);
- Blocking out bullying by wearing sunglasses and emphasizing the message of “See Something, Say Something” (Col. Fred Cherry Middle);
- Encouraging students to do random acts of kindness in a school-wide “Kind Challenge” and creating posters with messages about individuality, diversity, self-esteem, school spirit, and community(John Yeates Middle);
- Plus additional activities at all other schools.
For more information, contact Dr. Suzanne Rice, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, at 925-6750 or firstname.lastname@example.org