Jackson schools combat bullying anonymously - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Jackson schools combat bullying anonymously

JACKSON, MO (KFVS) -

One school district in southeast Missouri is combating bullying in a new way: anonymously.

Jackson R-2 School District put a link on their website where parents or students can report any possible bullying that they may have seen or heard.

We talked with the guidance counselors from the elementary and junior high schools about why it's important to address bullying in this new way.

They say it's important that they have a variety of avenues to help students feel more comfortable. They say students that are uncomfortable and worrying about their safety are not able to learn as efficiently.

"Children's safety is our number one priority," Junior High Guidance Counselor Angel Klund said. "Of course education is very important but it's hard to learn when you're not in a safe environment."

Elementary Guidance Counselor Jenny Moyers said it's important to make sure they teach these students early in ways of respect for another.

Moyers starts each year with reading the book "Have you Filled a Bucket Today."

"It teaches students to look for ways to help others or to show each other kindness," Moyers said. "I feel like starting the year off on that foot it almost in of itself can prevent bullying because their looking for ways to be kind."

With this new online anonymous anti-bullying avenue, students or parents can go to the Jackson School District website and click on the link that takes them directly to which high school or elementary school they want to report about. They can send a message and be completely anonymous.

"Having one additional place, like this online form that a student can report, a parent can report, it's another area to go," Junior High Guidance Counselor Sara Pylate said. "It's one more way that communication is open. And that is the secret with education is communication."

The guidance counselors say this isn't the first time that they have tried to reach out to the students and make them feel more comfortable. They have planned book clubs and other activities to also make them feel more welcomed.

"We send our children to school and we don't know what's going on during that day," Pylate said. "We know that it's a safe place and we know we're in a great district but we want them to feel that safety and feel that they are in a comfortable climate."

Also, they have recently installed what they call "buddy benches" at the elementary schools.

The buddy bench is designed for students who feel alone or feel they just aren't part of a group. The student sits down on the buddy bench and then other students will notice him or her and come over there and accompany them to make sure they don't feel alone.

"We really taught about being part of a community," Moyers said. "And when you're part of a community, you're helping each other out. And so I have had students come up to me and tell me either, 'I sat on the buddy bench and somebody came and asked me to play;' or students would say, 'I saw somebody on the buddy bench and I went and asked them to play.'"

Counselors say the buddy bench has had a lot of success; and they are impressed about how many students care so much to make those students feel they aren't alone.

Pylate said they have had their fair share of students in the counselor's office who feel they needed some support, or have felt bullied.

She said when a student comes in and talks, it's confidential and they will take appropriate actions if anyone is in danger.

"For them to come in and find us, and  no one has to know they came in to see us," Pylate said. "It's a really really important thing that they know that everything they say stays with us but that they also know that we are responding."

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