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12/5/2012 2:32:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Photo by Kacie Thrift
Dave Johnson came to the middle school last week to talk about bullying prevention with students and their parents. Johnson spoke as a representative of Canfield Insurance, the school districtís insurance company. He talked to the students about how bullies can be identified and how others can help to prevent bullying.
Bullying: Raising awareness
Kacie Thrift
Staff Writer



In an effort to bring awareness to students and parents about the issue of bullying, Canfield Insurance presented information on bullying in three segments last week to Cashmere Middle School students and parents.

Canfield, a third-party administrator to United Schools Insurance Program, had Dave Johnson, a retired teacher and coach from Ephrata, to present to students and parents the impacts bullying can have on a school, how to identify it, and how to stop it. The middle school has had multiple class discussions and presentations to bring awareness to students about bullying.

"This is continuing the vow we have had this fall. We had some high school kids come down last month. We talked about anti-bullying during the month of October and this continues that dialogue today. It takes that a little bit deeper," said Rob Cline, middle school principal.

The presentations were broken up into three segments. Early morning on Nov. 28 the fifth and sixth graders listened to the first presentation, in the afternoon the seventh and eighth graders listened to the second presentation, and in the evening, a presentation was held for parents and families of the entire school district who wanted to attend.

Johnson started his presentation by discussing the difference between bully behavior and normal peer conflict. The state passed a law about bully behavior saying harassment, intimidation, or bullying means any intentional electronic, written, verbal, or physical act including but not limited to: physical to a student or damages their property, has the effect of substantially interfering with a students education or is so severe it creates an intimidating educational environment, and has the effect of disrupting the orderly operation of the school.

Bullying is intentional, said Johnson. It's an intentional desire to hurt or harm someone. If you hurt someone unintentionally, then you are not bullying. When dealing with bullying, there is always a conflict of power.

"There is always someone smarter than you or better than you. There is always a balance of power but bullies misuse that power. Bullies think they have more power than the person they are picking on," Johnson said.

Bullies also enjoy what they are doing. Johnson told the students if they like hurting other people, then they should ask themselves if they are a bully, because most likely they are. The other two characteristics of bullying are when the victim feels trapped and the bullying is repeatedly happening. Johnson said a red flag for staff members is seeing a student being picked on three to four times by the same student. If this is happening, then it is most likely a situation of bullying.

Bullying can come in many different forms. Whether the bullying is physical, nonphysical (verbal and emotional), or indirect, all three are forms of harassment. Johnson said only 25 percent of bullying is physical. Boys tend to partake in physical bullying more than girls do and girls are more likely to gossip and spread rumors. Both genders name call and tease about the same amount. Excluding and ignoring is also a form of bullying.

One issue Johnson focused on during his talk with parents is cyber bullying. This is very serious because it is a state crime to harass people online. Johnson said a few years ago two 12-year-old girls from Issaquah were arrested for hacking into a classmates Facebook account and writing bad things about her.

Who is involved in bullying? According to Johnson, everyone is involved. If you are not the bully or the bullied, then you are a bystander and you too are a part of the problem.

"The bystander is the one who can make a difference in the school. Tell someone, stand up for someone. You as students know what's going on socially. Your teachers kind of know what is going on, but you students know before we know. You can make the difference as students," Johnson said.

A school is a place where students should feel safe to learn, according to Johnson, and when students are bullied, they have a hard time learning at school. Johnson suggested many things to do for the bully, bullied, and bystander. Bullies need to look in the mirror and recognize how harmful their actions can be. The bullied need to speak up by telling someone or telling the bully to leave them alone. The bystanders need to stick up for others or tell teachers.

"You are all involved and you can make a difference in your school," Johnson said.

Kacie Thrift may be reached at 782-3781 or reporter@cashmerevalleyrecord.com.



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