Stopping bullying before it starts in school

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

KENNETT, MO (KAIT) - In Kennett, teachers and administrators feel starting early is the answer to try to prevent bullying.  While kids can bully each other at any age, some find that younger students bully others more often.

"We have had some bullying even in first and second grade," said Kennett Superintendent Jerry Noble.

Bullies don't look a certain way but they do act a certain way.

"You can't have school if the students don't feel comfortable and you let the bullies run the schools," said Noble.

In Kennett they've identified grades three through six as being grades where bullying can get bad.  A few years ago they started implementing new tools like videos and pamphlets to battle bullying and it's making a difference!

"We teach them to try to ignore it and if that doesn't work to use humor and then if that doesn't work to please talk to an adult," said Jennifer Nigut.

Nigut said sometimes a child may not want to talk about it.

"It depends on what type of support system they have.  Several kids develop physical symptoms like stomach aches," said Nigut.

The child may cry or not want to go to recess to avoid their bully, all signs teachers know to watch for in children.

"You can't just sit back and not take it serious," said Noble.

Noble said when a bully is identified and they see a pattern of behavior they intervene talking to parents of both children to try to stop it before it goes too far.

"We talk about 'sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me' but really words do hurt," said Nigut.

So far this school year four students have been suspended for more than ten days for bullying, all of them in elementary school.

There are two types of punishment for bullying depending on the severity  Noble said they still use corporal punishment like paddling but also use short and long term suspension depending on the severity and the frequency of bullying.

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