Bullying is certainly nothing new and has occurred in schools for multiple generations. But sometimes students are afraid to talk about it and its effects can be devastating, even to the point of thoughts of suicide.
This morning, students and staff of Wawasee High School were given a strong anti-bullying message by student peer facilitators from Tippecanoe Valley High School. For about one hour, Wawasee freshman students gathered in the auditorium at WHS, while sophomores were in the main gym. Those two grades were released and then juniors filled the gym while seniors were in the auditorium.
Beginning with the current academic year, the state of Indiana now requires schools to provide anti-bullying training to all students and staff. Valley students, who trained Wawasee’s students involved in their peer program that kicks off this week, dealt with peer pressure, harassment, intimidation, bullying and cyber bullying.
The students noted bullying usually involves three elements: the bully, the bullied and the bystander. They heavily utilized the book “The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander” by Barbara Coloroso.
TVHS junior Sarah Jones spoke quite candidly to the Wawasee students. She said she has been personally affected and still is by bullying. Students have excessively harassed her about her hair color and clothes.
She noted some members of the swimming team at TVHS reached out to her and offered to help. They told her she has a unique personality and not to try to be someone else.
While being interviewed after her presentation, Jones said the swim team members encouraged her to help others being bullied. “I got my mind wrapped around this idea that I could help kids in my peer group,” she said, “and I could have an amazing impact on kids.” Kids are sometimes afraid to talk about bullying, she added.
Bullying can be defined in different ways and that is sometimes why it can be difficult to effectively address. Often, though, it involves intimidation or threats in some manner.
TVHS senior Tanner Andrews said after his presentation the student peer facilitators are “very passionate about doing what we can to stop bullying.” He said one goal of their message is to make more clear the line between teasing and bullying.
Valley peer facilitators gave a presentation to their own student body, but had not spoken to another student body prior to Wawasee. Nearly 30 TVHS facilitators made the trip to Syracuse.