Joining Forces: An Effort toward a Bully-Free Future
By: Sioux Johnson
When we hear the word “Bullying,” each of us have a tendency to identify with the term in our own way. Whether we have witnessed the action, been a victim of it, or managed to become a bully ourselves, chances are we have all experienced it at some point in our lives, and in defining this word for ourselves, come up with differing opinions. The Center for Disease Control, for this purpose, has come up with a definition that best encompasses bullying in its entirety, calling it, “any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths, who are not siblings or current dating partners, involving an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated.”
The unfortunate truth is that bullying is something that has often been dismissed as something we simply encounter on the road to adulthood. However, in 2006, a group named PACERS, who emerged as an organization for bullying prevention, was founded and adopted what would be known as their National Bullying Prevention Month campaign. According to Pacers.org, “The campaign is held during the month of October and unites communities around the world to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention.” As a result, J. P. King Middle School decided to do their part in educating their students about this sensitive and often untouched subject. “October is anti-bullying month, and of course we’ve been working with the students here in the school, but we’re also working to strengthen our partnership between the school and the community,” said Meta Stratton, the school’s Guidance Counselor. “So I thought it would be nice to reach out to the police department and invite them into the school.” Patrol Sergeant Karl Boone was happy to assist in this activity. “Ms. Stratton had asked me to come out and speak with the children about bullying,” said Boone. “We defined the word bullying, we defined the word bully, and then we talked about three types of bullying, verbal, physical, and cyber bullying.”
Boone spoke with the kids on the issue for roughly 45 minutes, and then opened the floor for discussion. “The children were very receptive. They seemed to understand what the topic was and what I was talking about,” said Boone. “I was very impressed with Sgt. Boone’s ability to relate to the students,” said Stratton. “He put a lot of time and effort into preparing what he did today; it was very obvious that he had taken his time to be prepared in speaking with the students.” But as this assembly progressed, it proved to be about more than just bullying. The importance of education, staying out of trouble, and instilling a sense of trust in J. P. King students for law enforcement was also a goal that Stratton feels they accomplished. “I also want them to see the police officers, not as someone to run from, but to run towards,” said Stratton regarding relationships between officers and students. When children trust the law enforcers in their areas, and feel they can communicate with both them and their school officials, they are able to focus on what is truly important, their education. “I think the number one thing is the
importance of education. If you are serious about your education then you’re not going to be interested in drugs or alcohol. If you’re serious about education you’re not going to be engaging in picking on your peers or bullying or disruptive behavior in school. So I think being serious about education alleviates a lot of the other problems that we have with students.” Sergeant Boone could not agree more. “I think Ms. Stratton hit the nail on the head,” said Boone. “When I’m in court, most of the people who have done serious crimes or dealing with drugs and selling, using and abusing narcotics, most of those people do not finish school at the high school level, and I’m just a firm believer that in order to be successful in life you must go to school and you must educate yourself.” When the police and schools work together to foster a healthy and safe environment for students to learn, every individual in our community is able to benefit. “They are the future,” said Boone. “We are counting on them, I’m counting on them to one day be the doctors, the lawyers, school teachers, and who knows maybe even the governor of Virginia.”
The threat of bullying has the overwhelming potential to disrupt our children’s success. This is why Bullying Prevention is so important and why events of this nature are something Stratton and Sergeant Boone would like to continue in the years to come. “They made me feel welcome, I really enjoyed it and I look forward to going back and spending time with them in the future,” said Boone. “I want our students to know that it is a community, Franklin is a community, and the only way that Franklin is going to be successful is if we all work together.