(11/15/2010)
Bullying in schools is still a problem in West Virginia schools and across the USA.

Calhoun schools have had some incidents that landed in the court system, with some school leaders generally defending the problem, saying, "It was just boys being boys."

The local school system has continued to refine bullying and harassment polices.

Calhoun Middle-High School is making an effort this week (Nov. 15-19) to address the problem with the First Annual Calhoun Anti-Bullying Awareness Week.

In an effort to crack down on school bullies, West Virginia's K-12 schools and colleges are reminding educators of their legal obligations to address harassment.

Nationally, the effort comes in the wake of high profile bullying cases involving gay students, but letters sent to all schools address all forms of bullying on school grounds.

A federal survey of West Virginia high school students found that nearly 25% of state students had been bullied in schools over a 12-month period.

Professor Donald Hall of the West Virginia University English Department told state media that educators across the state and the nation have not taken bullying seriously enough and in some cases ignored it.

"People have seen schoolyard behavior and sometimes behavior now through social media, through the Internet, as something that kids will do to each other and they will grow out it," Hall said.

"Well unfortunately the targets of bullying sometimes don't grow out of it because they don't survive it," Hall said.

Federal education officials are now warning school districts.

In letters, they stated that a failure to act on cases of bullying could not only violate state anti-bullying policies but also federal anti-discrimination laws.

U.S. Department of Education's Arne Duncan says civil rights statutes can apply if the harassment is based on race, color, national origin, sex or disability.

"If the federal government has to get involved, if we have to step in, that means the problem was ignored for far too long and that means that the adults and the students missed the warning signs or chose not to act and there's simply no excuse for that," Duncan said.

Emily Duskey and Jewell Dye, project coordinators for Calhoun School's week long event is inviting the public to join in and make it a community-wide event.

"People often don't understand the amount of pain bullies can cause until it happens to someone they love," they said.

One study says that 77% of students nation-wide say they have been bullied at one time or another.

Admittedly, half of those incidents go unreported.

About 160,000 students across America say they fear going to school.

- 90% of 4th through 8th graders report being a victim of bullying.

- 32% of parents fear for their child's safety while at school.

- 282,000 students in secondary school are attacked each month.

- Bullying has been linked to 75% of school-shooting incidents.

Calhoun's project coordinators say being bullied should not be looked at as a rite of passage.

Monday-Friday Anti-Bullying Awareness Week at Calhoun Middle-High School:

Monday

Students will be doing door decorations; Community, please wave or smile at a stranger.

Tuesday

Students, Act of Kindness Poster Day. (Students to make posters at home unless teachers make it a class project). Posters to be displayed throughout the schools; Community, feel free to make a poster for your workplace.

Wednesday

Students, Wear *Yellow Day (Suicide Workshop for high school 10:30 to 11:00). Sign anti-bullying pledge during lunches; Community, Wear Yellow Day, invited to the workshop.

Yellow is the Universal color for friendship.

Thursday

Students, Give a Yellow Flower Day. Decorate lockers; middle and high school. (Students bring own decorations). Bev Morford and students with The Learn and Serve Committee at elementary schools; Community, Give a Yellow Flower Day.

Friday

Students, Respect Life Day (Cafeteria employees will serve yellow apples at lunch. Elementary schools are encouraged to join in serving yellow apples); Middle school students will have an anti-bullying workshop (8:30-9:00); Parents/Guardians workshop (8:00-8:30 at CCMHS commons) discussion on what parents can do at home to prevent bullying. Refreshments to be served; Community, Respect Life Day. Eat a yellow apple day.


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