Local schools taking on bullying problem

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By Nick Schrager

Imagine sending your child to a place that makes them so sad, so upset and intimidated that they tell you they would rather die than go back.
Now imagine that place is your child’s school.

A local woman who asked not to be identified has a child who has experienced those and other emotions about going to school, and the problems stem from bullying experienced at school.
“She said she’d rather be dead than go to school. She’s not suicidal, but those are not normal feelings. Initially, I just stood there and watched her and cried,” said the mother. “I thought, ‘how could they do this?’ It’s been so stressful.”
After hearing about her daughter being tripped, hit and told she was worthless by the students who were bullying her daughter, the mother said she initially asked herself if it was really happening. Then she noticed other behavior, and she decided to address the issue with school officials. She first contacted an attorney, who is a friend of hers, and he told her to write a letter to be sent to the school. She wrote the letter and quickly was granted the meeting with the principal and superintendent she requested.
“The school system took it seriously right away,” the mother said. “I was amazed. It was a very fast response.”
The problems had become so serious the daughter didn’t want to attend classes. Her mother said she has not been able to get her to return to school, and the school district has been working to help her keep up with her class work.
“She’s in the impact plus program for one hour per week, and she meets with an independent counselor,” the mother said. “We got her to a psychiatrist, and she is on a mild antidepressant.  She’s not walking around sad all the time, but she’s still not herself.”

Finding the source
Seeing her child suffer was such a disturbing sight that the mother didn’t sit by and wait, she addressed the problem with parents of the children who were doing the bullying. She said she contacted them and told them she wanted them to be aware of what was going on.
“I talked to two of the kids’ parents, and one lady was surprised her daughter was doing it,” she said. “She has since called back to speak to my daughter, and one of the girls who was bullying her has apologized. I talked to another parent and told them I wasn’t calling to stir up trouble, but I said I would want you to call me if my child was doing this. She has called a few times to ask how she’s (my daughter) doing. I was really surprised at that response.”

Schools face the problems
School officials didn’t take the problem lightly. Washington County Middle School Principal Christina Sagrecy said the problem of bullying is not a new one.
“Bullying in schools has been a problem for years. Schools continue to look for initiatives to help minimize the problem,” she said. “At Washington County Middle School, we have taken several preventative measures to do just that.”
Among the measures taken by the school was the presentation of the Rachel’s Challenge program, which was recently presented to students and was based on the life and death of a Columbine High School shooting victim, Rachel Scott. Other programs include having an interventionist who works with students; a dress code revision to eliminate students teasing each other; school assemblies to address bullying; a focus on cyber-bullying in technology classes, and even having students say the Pledge of Allegiance in an effort to instill pride and integrity.
“I do believe that these preventative measures assist us in being proactive and minimizing bullying at Washington County Middle School,” Sagrecy added.