Education

No tolerance for bullies in Biloxi schools

Alexis Zorich, 9, signs a friendship pledge with 6-year-old Taylor Richburg as part of a week of anti-bullying exercises for students at North Bay Elementary School.
Alexis Zorich, 9, signs a friendship pledge with 6-year-old Taylor Richburg as part of a week of anti-bullying exercises for students at North Bay Elementary School. jvicory@sunherald.com

Bullying can threaten students’ physical and emotional safety at school and can negatively impact their ability to learn.

More than 70 percent of students say they’ve seen bullying and 62 percent have witnessed it two or more times. Yet only about 20 to 30 percent of bullying is reported to adults, according to data compiled by Stopbullying.gov.

Most bullying occurs in school, on school grounds and on the school bus.

Making things more complicated, cyberbullying is now considered just as equal of a threat as physical bullying.

For those reasons, the Biloxi School District has been holding “anti-bullying” education exercises all week. The exercises are part of the district’s “Red Ribbon Week,” when the district puts a special emphasis on drug prevention, respect and bullying prevention.

Nashville recording artist Daniel Thomas kicked off the week on Monday with video and dancing programs that shared an anti-bullying message.

On Wednesday, students in the third through sixth grades partnered up with kindergarteners and first- and second-graders.

It was a way to educate students on the dangers of bullying and to team them up with one another to prevent it from happening, North Bay Elementary School Principal Laurie Pitre said.

“This is a great chance to spread the message about bullying and for the students to make a friend, to have a mentor, in a higher grade. It gives them someone to look out for bullying,” Pitre said.

Students signed anti-bullying pledges, put on temporary anti-bullying tattoos and polished each others nails the color blue. The color blue represents anti-bullying.

The best way to address bullying is to stop it before it starts. Schools can do several things to prevent it.

Some tips include:

▪ Educate the student body, faculty and parents about the dangers of bullying.

▪ Build bullying prevention material into the curriculum and school activities.

▪ Train teachers and staff on school’s rules and policies and give them the skills to intervene consistently and appropriately.

Justin Vicory: 228-896-2326, @justinvicory

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