Do Unto Others…
Shenandoah County Schools Create Successful Programs To Eliminate Bullying
By Aimee Cregger
SHENANDOAH COUNTY – No matter what age, kids pick on kids and have been for centuries. The Valley is no exception for this naturally occuring phenomenon.
To cope, Shenandoah County Public Schools has implemented a county-wide bullying program and each school has created specific events to fight against kid-on-kid violence.
At Peter Muhlenberg Middle School, a bullying prevention task force was created to plan events and programs. The task force is composed of students chosen by teachers to help prevent bullying among their peers.
“The kids in the task force act as mediators and really look for any problems between fellow classmates,” said Kristene Wellings, PMMS guidance counselor.
The students on the task force have multiple roles including educating classmates about bullying, acting as liaisons between bullied children and teachers and acting as leaders at special events.
As one of the first events, PMMS students celebrated National Stand Up Day on November 21. In January, students took part in the No Name Calling Week to promote friendly relationships.
Also, aiding the program is the Bully Help Web site (www.bullyhelp.org). It is a free site available to school counselors where students can anonmously report bullying.
“Any student can go on the site, report an incident, and it comes straight to my office anonmously,” Wellings said. “We’ve had a good number of students use the site and it is working to prevent incidents.”
On the north end of the county, Signal Knob Middle school students are taking part in a program titled Rachel’s Challenge. Rachel Scott was a victim of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.
Rachel’s Challenge teaches random acts of kindness and was started by her parents, Darrell and Sandy Scott.
At Signal Knob, students are encouraged to treat one another nicely and hold a hand out to new classmates.
“General politeness in the building has increased and bullying has almost been completely eliminated,” said Missy Hensley, principal. “Last week I saw a student invite a new classmate over to the lunch table because they were sitting alone. That makes me proud.”
North Fork Middle in Quicksburg is offering individual and group counseling for bullies and victims and also participated in No Name Calling Week in January.
“I think the teasing and name calling in our school has decreased and hopefully we can continue to remind our students the affects of bullying and it will get better over time,” said Alison Zeiner, guidance counselor.
While middle school seems to be the age of transition where most bullying occurs, the elementary and high schools are also promoting good habits.