Sampson County Schools is taking action against a growing bullying problem with a county wide anti-bullying campaign.
“The anti-bullying campaign was started last year but each district kind of did their own thing. This year, we’re going county wide,” said Latonia Melvin, Parent Involvement coordinator with Sampson County Schools.
As part of their anti-bullying campaign, Sampson County Schools has designated Feb. 18 - 22 as Bullying Awareness Week.
The highlight of the week will be speaker and comedian Keith Deltano who will present his “Don’t Bully” message to eight school assemblies. He will speak to the Union and Lakewood districts Tuesday, Feb. 19 and to the Hobbton and Midway districts Wednesday, Feb. 20.
Melvin and Sampson County Schools’ committee of lead school counselors went searching for someone who could come in and speak to students about bullying in a way that the students would accept. They came across Deltano’s website and were instantly taken with his message of acceptance and his proven effective approach for reaching school-aged children.
Deltano has worked with youth in numerous capacities — he’s been a public school teacher, military police officer, youth leader, private counselor, and educational comedian.
According to his website, what makes his “Don’t Bully” message unique is that it “goes beyond the bystander/bully/victim labels to get at the underlying causes of bullying. He uses comedy to show students why they do what they do. Deltano’s background in public education gives him insight into school culture.”
“He addresses the issue with comedy and is very interactive with the students,” said Melvin. “We thought his message and way of delivery could make a positive impact.”
Melvin added that Deltano will speak primarily to middle school and high school students, but that she and the committee of lead school counselors also decided to invite fifth graders to his presentations.
“It [bullying] really seems to start in middle school so we want to reach these fifth graders before they go into middle school next year,” noted Melvin.
Deltano will also hold two additional workshops while in Sampson County, one for teachers and one for parents at the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center Tuesday evening, Feb. 19.
“We really want to get those parents involved,” stressed Melvin. “They are the ones that know their children best and know when something might be wrong. We want them to know the signs to look for. They really need to listen to and observe their children, watching for any changes or differences because those can be major signs.”
In addition to Deltano’s presentations, individual schools will be organizing their own anti-bullying activities to further promote Bullying Awareness Week.
Union Elementary school counselor Jennifer Little shared that she has ordered anti-bullying banners and signs to place around the school.
“Our students will also be taking an anti-bullying pledge,” said Little. “They’ll sign a “Be Buddies, Not Bullies” banner as part of their pledge.”
Students at Hobbton Elementary will take a similar pledge while also participating in “different spirit activities” during Bullying Awareness Week, acording to school counselor Kathy Williamson.
“One day we’ll have a”Team Up Against Bullying” day where the kids will wear their favorite sports team clothing,” shared Williamson. “Another day will be “Give Bullying the Boot” day and they’ll get to wear their boots.”
“I will also be going around to all the classes to talk with them about bullying. We’ve got to start talking to the younger grades because it’s now becoming a problem at that level,” explained Williamson. “In addtion to the bullied and the bullies, we especially want to reach those who are bystanders and talk with them about what they can do. We feel that if we can reach them and get them to stick together, they can really help prevent bullying.”
Sampson County Schools is taking these kinds of proactive steps to stop bullying because it is becoming a very real and troubling issue in the schools.
“We’ve been having a growing number of students self-reporting,” shared Little, referring to the online bullying reports that students can fill out on their school’s website. “I know that when I took a survey of my kids, 25 percent of my third graders felt scared or were afraid of going to school because of the bullying situation.”
“The numbers [of bullying incidents] have been rising according to all our school counselors. There seems to be a lot of teasing and then it just goes from there,” Melvin added. “It’s just getting worse and worse. We’re hoping that the action we’re taking will make an impact and that we’ll see less and less incidents of bullying occur.”
For more information about Keith Deltano and his anti-bullying message, visit dontbullyonline.com.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 123 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.