New Forms Of Bullying Spur Increased Prevention Efforts

By: Stephanie Diffin Email
By: Stephanie Diffin Email

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March 8, 2011

It's a type of abuse impacting children, threatening their mental health and self esteem. Bullying is running rampant in schools and online, so local districts are reaching out to staff and parents to help battle the problem.

Today's bullying isn't what it was like even ten years ago. With a constant stream of communication on websites like Facebook and Twitter, students have cyber bullying to deal with 24/7 in addition to what they may face at school.

"There's nothing that I won't do to keep this from happening to not only my kid, but any other kid," said Wichita parent Kacy Standley.

What's happening to Standley's daughter, she says, is one of the most obvious forms of bullying. According to Standley, her 7-year-old, who is just a first grader in Wichita Public Schools, has already come home with injuries from being hit and kicked.

"She's one of those kids that used to love going to school everyday and she does not like it anymore," said Standley.

So Standley has made it her mission to do everything she can to make it stop.

"You want to do everything under the sun to make sure your kid is protected, and the one place you should be able to trust besides your own home is school. And if I can't protect her at school who can?" said Standley.

That's the question a workshop tonight aimed to answer. Wichita Public Schools safety specialists hosted the seminar for staff and parents to raise awareness of just how detrimental bullying can be to a child's self esteem. Those speaking at the workshop say stopping bullying is handled best with a team approach, requiring attention from teachers, administrators, and parents.

Speakers suggested parents pay attention and report any possible bullying, while teachers and administrators also need to keep communication open, and make sure bullies face appropriate consequences. They also suggest helping coach and protect the target of bullying so they can try and prevent it from happening again.

"It becomes essential for [students'] success in life to give them the skills to handle this," said Wichita Public Schools Safety Services Supervisor Michele Zahner.

Zahner says those coping skills have become even more important as bullying on the playground makes its way to the PC.

"When somebody receives a damaging email or text and it circulates, that's going to impact them for a really long time," said Zahner.

But Standley is hoping her daughter's bullying won't make it past the first grade.

"There are so many problems that kids face today that they shouldn't have to worry about getting physically hit," said Standley.

Those hosting the seminar say a key factor in stopping bullying is reporting it. Wichita Public Schools has made a website available to report bullying and other crimes anonymously.

You can visit it by clicking here.

There will be another bullying prevention workshop Thursday, March 10th, at the Sedgwick County Extension Office from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

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