Shenandoah schools recognize bullying prevention

WOODSTOCK – The Virginia School Boards Association has declared the month of October to be Bullying Prevention Month.

David Hinegardner, director of middle and secondary education for Shenandoah County Public Schools, said this is a topic the take very seriously.

“We have a multitude of proactive measures that each school takes to deal with bullying,” Hinegardner noted at last week’s county School Board meeting.

Chadwick Hensley, director of elementary education in the division, added, “Bullying happens everywhere.”

According to Hinegardner, people misuse the term bullying. He sited the division’s policy manual for the definition of bullying, which is “any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to harm, intimidate, or humiliate the victim; involves a real or perceived power imbalance between the aggressor or aggressors and victim; and is repeated over time or causes severe emotional trauma. Bullying includes cyber bullying.”

The definition went on to say, “Bullying does not include ordinary teasing, horseplay, argument or peer conflict.”

“Proactive,” is the key word Hinegardner used in regard to preventing bullying. He said that the best practices for dealing with bullying are programs that educate children, focus on the social environment, involve all members of the community, establish clear rules and policies, and increase adult supervision.

Hinegardner listed some of the programs that are implemented in the schools to prevent bullying. These include the daily morning announcement, Rachel’s Challenge, Pushing the Positives, Hallway Heroes, DARE class, Peace Council, recognition for positive character traits that is supported by Food Lion, peer mediation, playground supervision, and the Watch Dog Program.

“It takes a village,” Hinegardner said, because it takes an entire community to get behind the anti-bullying initiatives in order to make a change within the schools.

Hensley added that the community needs to “work together as a team” to combat bullying.

“In the end, what it comes down to is relationships,” Hensley said. The community needs to build relationships with students and students need to build positive relationships with each other.

Hinegardner added that in regards to bullying today, “Cyber bullying is the number one issue.”

At the meeting, Hensley provided a few statistics that indicated the challenges of dealing with cyber bullying. The include:

  • 38 percent of children under 12 are already on Facebook.
  • 81 percent of youth agree that bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person.
  • 85 percent of parents are not aware of their child’s social networking presence.
  • 90 percent of cyber-bullied kids don’t report the abuse to parents.

Hensley continued by saying, “we can’t do just one thing.” Multiple people and multiple strategies are necessary in order to tackle bullying.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com