ORANGEBURG, SC (WIS)
Bullying can cut much deeper than a dust-up on the playground. The impact can last for years, and the number of school fights on YouTube shows that pent up frustration often gets violent.
“It’s harder for adults to see with the invention of electronic devices, bullying and mistreatment can occur 24 hours a day,” said John Linney with Community Matters. “There is no escape from it now. Kids see it on their phones, on their computers. Adults miss a lot of that. They don’t how to handle that. We’ve really got to catch up.”
To begin that process, one school district in Orangeburg County applied for a grant to bring in the group Community Matters. The California-based non-profit specializes in training students to be “safe school ambassadors” — kids who act instead of standing by when they see bullying.
“I see a lot of things on the playground like people kicking people and like pushing them down and stuff like that,” said student Bryan Green.
Linney shows kids just how damaging that kind of behavior can be. The day is packed with examples, exploring what words like “exclusion” and “intimidation” mean, and, in one of the most powerful exercises, he has students feel the physical effects of being bullied by filling up a backpack with rocks.
Training for safe school ambassadors also includes middle school students and will wrap up this Friday.