There are times when a silent message can make more of a statement than a verbal one, which was what occurred at a recent Hawthorne Junior and High School assembly. Two students walked into the assembly wearing white sheets, proclaiming a simple message on posters stating “What you put on-line could haunt you forever.” The three solutions were to “recognize” what is being said, “refuse” to participate in negative cyber bullying and “report” it.
Deputy Michael Barnes, the school’s resource officer from the Mineral County’s Sheriff’s Department was on hand to inform the students that his job was to keep them all safe. Deputy Barnes shared about the use of social media and the legal implications of electronically passing inappropriate photos or materials to other students.
The U.S. Department of Health defines bullying as “being intentionally aggressive and usually repeatedly, using verbal, social or physical behavior aimed at a specific person or group of people.” This behavior rises to criminal behavior when harassment or hazing is used to intimidate. Legal ramifications can also arise, with the worse outcome leading to one’s suicide.
Teens admit to seeing bullying, with 30 percent admitting they perpetrated an act of bullying. This included rumor spreading; teasing; physical touching; isolating; using threats; stealing; hiding or breaking another’s belongings and sexual harassment. Nationally, one in three admitted experiencing these things, while 20 percent of teenagers in grades nine through 12 say they are bullied. At the junior high level, the percentage rises to 29 percent experiencing bullying in the main public areas of schools, such as in classrooms, lunch rooms and hallways.
Kathy Trujillo, the Safe School Professional, shared that her position was to help foster a safe environment where every student can receive a quality education and develop their full potential in school and within their lives. Students were encouraged to step up and look out for one another instead of being a quiet bystander that allows another to be bullied.
Principal Jeffrey Wales led the students in the Anti-bullying Pledge which reads as follows:
“I make a Commitment to take a stand against bullying.
I will treat others with Respect and Kindness.
I will have the Compassion to not be a bully and the Courage to not be a bystander.
It is my Responsibility to help others being bullied and to report bullying.”
Completing the school assembly was Curtis Schlepp, Chief Juvenile Probation Officer with Nicole Mathias, Probation Officer and John Gavin, school counselor, who handed out wrist band reminders. The message of creating a safe foundation for learning rang true. Principal Wales stated, “Hawthorne Junior High and Mineral County High School students, staff and administration are committed to creating an environment that meets the foundational levels of learning, which includes physical needs, safety, belonging and self-esteem.”