Students at Hood River Middle School have taken creative steps to stop bullying and harassment among their peers.
During the past two weeks, the Associated Student Body has helped orchestrate activities to raise awareness of the problem and seek out solutions. School Resource Officer Tiffany Hicks has encouraged the outreach.
“Bullying is the most common problem that I see at all of the schools I am in and we (HRMS staff) decided to help the students be part of the solution,” said Hicks, who worked with School Counselor Alison McDonald to develop an “anti-bullying” program.
Under the Safe Schools Project, the ASB inspired young artists to design posters about the issue that were showcased on the cafeteria walls. In addition, the Hood River City Police Department sponsored $20 prizes for the top essay about the issue in each grade level and an additional $10 for the second place writings. The first place entries were read during a motivational assembly last Friday and drew applause from the entire student body.
In her dissertation, sixth-grader Kylie McPherson suggested that more hall monitors be placed on duty since the majority of bullying and harassment took place between class periods.
The writing of Anna Flores, a seventh grade student, highlighted that parents had the responsibility to instill good values in their children so they would not grow up to be bullies.
Eighth-grader Lauren Hay penned an opinion that bullies had low-self esteem and the best way to stop negative bids for attention was to empower victims so they could either stand up for themselves or ignore the behavior altogether.
Other student suggestions to stop bullying and harassment were also read by staffers at the assembly. These included establishing a “bully box” for anonymous reporting of problems, placing “undercover bully detectives” in gathering places, providing anger management counseling for perpetrators, establishing a “Peacemaker Award” for those who didn’t bully, and having tougher disciplinary action taken against problem individuals. These recommendations have been forwarded to principal Bob Dais to review and possibly put into place. The students also signed a pledge to respect differences by not bullying others, and report any problems immediately.
At the May 2 gathering, Hicks reminded her audience that it was not only bad behavior to bully and harass their peers, it was also a punishable crime to make threats, touch people without permission or challenge them to a fight.
“I fully expect you all to be role models and treat each other with dignity and respect,” Hicks said.
She plans to carry the same message to students at Wy’east Middle School and Cascade Locks School, the other two facilities she serves through the Community Policing Program.
“Some kids hurt each other’s feelings on a regular basis and don’t even realize what they have done — it’s my goal to have students make more informed choices and take more responsibility for their actions,” Hicks said.