Mountain Valley School says "No" to bullying behavior

Bullying of some kind at school is common across the board, but at Mountain Valley School in Sattler, administrators are doing what they can to bring awareness to their students as a preventative measure against bullying behavior by launching a series of "no bullying" seminars.

Dr, Denise Kern, principle of MVS, said there is not a bully problem at MVS, but because of the school's proactive philosophy, wants to educate the student body in an effort to maintain the school's safe environment.

"It's a total awareness factor," Dr. Kern said. "We had a little incident with some 5th graders before the holidays and we're wondering if there's more going on than we think."

Part of the problem with the aggressive behavior usually associated with bullies is that the child does not know what to do instead of physically acting out.

The WHO program already in place at MVS instructs a child what to do in a confrontational situation. Under the programs guidlines, the child says 'no' to the situation, walks away, and then tells someone they trust.

The "no bullying" seminars compliment the WHO program by examining the underlying mechanics of the bully process.

The seminars were tailored for a girls' group and boys' group. Administrators felt that way they could address issues specific to gender because there are differences between how a boy and a girl bully another or each other.

A boy's nature is to be more physical, while a girl's is to be more emotional. Therefore, a boy tends to fight physically, while a girl tends to fight verbally.

The "no bully" seminar helped children identify common traits that a bully might display, such as a bad temper, talking back, a negative attitude, or using physical aggression, to name a few.

The effects of bullying were also expressed in the seminar, like how it lowers self-esteem or becomes internalized.

Assistant principle, Bret Cormier, said, "There is always a reason why in the child's mind."

Cormier went on to say that the reason may not be valid or justified, but to a child it is reason enough.

"Students have poor social skills and don't accurately read social cues," he added.

Dr. Kern did say that there have always been measures in place to help curb these kinds of incidents or behaviors.

The student code of conduct is the primary source of what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior.

On the bus, cameras are always on and bus drivers are trained to help identify problems before they escalate.

Cormier added that from the research that was done, the common themes that bullies relied on were entitlement, intolerant to difference, and no empathy for the victims.

Sexual harrassment can also be considered a bullying behavior.

The seminars also helped students feel they can be open about what the interpret as bullying behavior so that they can report it.

Cormier said he talked about the difference between reporting an incident and tattle-telling.

Dr. Kern said she feels that throughout her career as an educator, bullying hasn't become a bigger problem, per se. Bullying, rather, has just gotten a bigger face because society has learned more about it over the years.

"We don't tolerate it, if we know about it," Dr. Kern said.

The "no bullying" seminars were primarily targeted to 5th and 6th graders because the hormonal changes that are attributed with puberty kick in around that age and make dealing with others more diffcult, especially if the child is not aware of alternative methods of coping.

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