New River Primary School combats bullying

During this National Bullying Prevention Month and beyond… we can all help stop negative narratives and instead encourage kindness, acceptance and inclusion.

“Sometimes something could be going on outside the school and the child will bring it into the school,” said school counselor, Michelle Dolph-Burgess.

“We try to get to the bottom of it and see why it’s even occurring and then try to teach how to make a better choice and how to be a better person.”

No child should be afraid to go to school. Bullying creates long-lasting damage. Keep the lines of communication open and reassure them that it’s not their fault.

Dolph-Burgess goes into Pre-K through 2 (4 to 9-years-old) classrooms and talks about the signs of bullying, what to look for, how to report it, the difference between bullying and a mean moment or bullying and a conflict. She says if it’s truly a bullying moment, always report it to an adult. A conflict you can first try to work it out.

“There’s a zero tolerance for bullying here,” the school counselor said.

According to Michelle, bullying happens over and over again; it’s not just a one-time thing. It’s one-sided and purposeful. If these traits come up consistently then it’s bullying. And there are four different types.

“Physical bullying, verbal bullying, social bullying — where you use your friends to cause harm to others, cyber bullying since I know a lot of our little friends like to go home and use cell phones or tablets,” said Dolph-Burgess. Like taking an unwanted picture or video, not social media at this age.

Bullying is sometimes a learned behavior, and often the child doesn’t even know they’re causing harm or hurting someone.

“So we have to show them, ‘hey, it doesn’t feel good,’ it makes people sad — sadder than sad.”

They may come from a home where domestic violence is a common occurrance.

“But here at school — keep hands, feet, all other objects to yourself and they don’t really grasp that concept until it does hurt somebody.”

If you child is being bullied, Michelle encourages parents to call the school, the administration, the school counselor. They can put an extra set of eyes on the student.

“Watch for signs of not wanting to come to school, watch for signs of sleep change, eating habits change, unexplained injuries, any kind of change in your student — there’s usually a reason.”

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