Whether they were making posters, watching movies, performing skits or reading stories, students throughout Chesterfield’s schools this month were working toward a common goal: Putting a stop to bullying.
January is designated Bullying Prevention Month by the Virginia School Boards Association, but eliminating bullying is a year-round effort, according to information from Chesterfield County Public Schools.
Patricia Reeves, a school counselor at Beulah Elementary School, said this was the second year the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program had been in place at the school. A total of seven Chesterfield schools are using the program, according to information from CCPS.
“It entails having very clearly stated anti-bullying rules,” Reeves said of the program. The rules are posted in each classroom at the beginning of the year, she said, and students learn about the four types of bullying: Verbal, physical, emotional and cyber.
“You can’t deal with just the ‘bully,’” she said. “You have to deal with changing the climate of the whole school. … It’s teaching kids how to support and help each other and foster that climate of kindness.”
During No Name Calling Week, which began Monday, Jan. 24, students were set to participate in, among others, “No Put Down Day,” “How Sweet It Is” day and “Pledge Day;” on “Pledge Day,” students were to sign and turn in a pledge not to bully others.
Though only seven schools use the Olweus program, every Chesterfield school “does something different with bullying,” Reeves said.
At Enon Elementary School in November, fourth- and fifth-grade girls and their parents attended a movie night about bullying prevention, according to information from CCPS. Enon School Counselor Christi Meyerhoeffer said the movie night was a success, and she was looking for a film to show at a corresponding event for boys.
“We kind of do things all year long,” she said of the school’s bullying prevention efforts. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade get classroom lessons on bullying, its forms and what they can do if they’re being bullied, she said.
Typically, when a program teaching students about bullying is put in place, “you will see a rise in reports because they are more aware,” Meyerhoeffer said. The classroom lessons at Enon Elementary have been in place for three years, she said, and “we did a survey last year and the results were fairly positive.”