Area students are tackling bully problem |

Area students are tackling bully problem

The good news is bullying apparently isn’t a problem in the valley’s schools.The bad news is that it exists, and it’s just the symptom of the same malady that turned fatal at Red Lake High School in Minnesota last week and at Columbine High School nearly six years ago.It’s fortunate that Roaring Fork High School administrators say the school doesn’t have physical abuse or the extreme emotional harassment students portrayed in a video highlighting the problem. A student doesn’t have to get shoved into a locker to get pushed too far: Name-calling and cliques still constitute bullying, and so bullying is present in our schools.Because bullying is just a symptom, it probably won’t stop until the underlying problems stop. And while schools probably never will be miniature utopias, students provide yet more encouragement by looking beyond bullying and addressing the culture in the schools.Student Empowerment, a group at Roaring Fork High, produced “Subconscious Actions with Unknown Reactions,” a video on cliques and bullying. Through the Safe School Ambassadors program, Kathryn Senor Elementary School is training 25 students from different social groups to change the school’s cultural norms.Cultural change, even in schools with populations that change every three or four years, is slow. So even though administrators at the New Castle school say the program doesn’t seek to turn students into “little police,” the students are checking one another.Programs where students police themselves are the only ones that work, because bullying doesn’t just happen in the classrooms, hallways and schoolyards, but carries over into other parts of the victims’ lives. It takes more than a policy change get rid of bullying because it’s something over which teachers and administrators have only a limited amount of control.Instead, the students are starting to take control of their schools earlier – neither program was a response to the shootings in Minnesota; both happened earlier, allowing students to change the culture at their schools before they even get to high school.Bullying has evolved to a point that makes adults nostalgic for bloody noses and stolen lunch money. Bullying, coupled with the violent response it has prompted, has become a fatal cancer in schools. But by taking aim not at the moving target that is bullying, but rather its underlying causes, students are taking the responsibility of creating safe classrooms.

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