Ridgway schools enforces anti-bullying initiative

Francis S. Grandinetti Elementary School in Ridgway has established a school-wide discipline program to prevent bullying. The PROUD initiative stands for polite, respectful, on time, under control, and follow directions. These rules are displayed in the cafeteria and in individual classrooms throughout the year. Students are encouraged to review the PROUD rules often by faculty and staff, and the initiative is imbedded early on. “At the beginning of the school year the principal and guidance counselor hold mini workshops with grades three, four and five to open up the discussion on bullying,” said Anne Herzing, Principal at FSG Elementary School. “Children work in small groups to identify what a bully is, how to stop a bully and why a bully does what they do. A second mini workshop is done around April to promote the grade level as a team and how we all can support each other and our talents.”Bullying seems to be more pertinent in intermediate grades four and five at the elementary level, and focuses on personal characteristics. “It is interesting that when talking to the female victim and the female bully they bring up a situation that happened maybe a year or two ago,” Herzing said. “Girls focus on boys, how a person dresses and looks, and family situations. Whereas boys tend to focus their bullying on how a person looks, dresses, acts, athletic ability, and family situations.”Being a victim of bullying can have detrimental effects on students. “A student being bullied doesn’t want to come to school,” said Herzing. “Friendships break up, other people get involved, kids get sick, and they become afraid of school.”Bullying can be prevented before it becomes a problem at school. “In the family setting, parents can voice their disapproval of bullying, when children are around,” Herzing said. “It is also important for children not to be exposed to a bullying behavior.”Ridgway schools have customary disciplinary actions if bullying occurs. “The first offense involves writing the victim(s) an apology letter and an educational component with the guidance counselor.  The second offense involves contacting the parents/guardians, having them come to school and work as a team to design a behavior plan to help the student,” Herzing said. “The parents’ involvement is very important in order to stop this type of behavior from happening.”Pick up a copy of the Friday, Dec. 2, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.