Promoting a positive environment in classrooms and throughout an entire campus requires the commitment of teachers, administrators, and staff. Nine years ago, Memorial Middle School created the Anti-Bullying Committee a campus-wide initiative to help foster a community of acceptance for all students.
Comprised of students, counselors, and administrators the committee empowers the school’s community to take a stand against bullying by spreading awareness about the signs of bullying and what to do about it.
“Our anti-bullying program hosts events to help build awareness among students, parents, and school personnel about bullying, the effects of bullying, and how that can impact students’ lives,” said Instructional Coach Merissa Saucedo. “We need everyone on campus to know the signs of bullying, what it looks like, what it sounds like, and how can we prevent bullying by working together.”
Along with creating awareness, the committee sets up designated points around campus where students can discretely report bullying incidents. They also meet about once a month to plan events like door decorating contests, bumper sticker design contests, school walks, dress up days, plays, and lunch activities among others.
Committee members can often be spotted wearing their pink shirts at school events. The color pink to them represents unity against bullying and makes reference to “Pink Shirt Day” an anti-bullying campaign created by youth in Canada.
“We chose pink as our color in reference to a story of a boy who wore a pink shirt to school and was bullied for it,” said Delia Davis Padilla, counselor. “The student population decided that on one specific day they would all wear pink to take a stand against bullying and to show the aggressor that if he was going to bully the boy for wearing pink, then he would have to be bully all of them too.”
Over the years, Saucedo has seen the program grow into a movement across her campus.
“Students are very interested and excited about the program. I see more awareness of what bullying is and more awareness of just being kind to others,” said Saucedo. “I see a lot of students reciprocating kindness towards one another. I think students are more aware of being kind to others and the importance of that and how that impacts their peers’ lives.”
Student input helps administrators assess how often bullying occurs on their campus, where it happens, and whether prevention efforts are working. Memorial enforces a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to bullying, and students, as well as parents, are encouraged to report any occurrences of bullying, no matter how small.
“We want to be proactive. A lot of times, unfortunately, students may feel like they are being snitches when they report bullying,” said Padillaw. “We try to educate the students to help change that mindset.”
Bullying can jeopardize students’ physical and emotional safety at school and can negatively impact their ability to learn. Mary Ann Garcia, a teacher at Memorial, is all too familiar with detrimental effects of bullying.
“As a child, I went through bullying when I was in elementary school. It’s something that is very personal to me,” said Garcia. “We want to let students know they are not alone. There is something that we can do. That is why I got involved with this.”
Administrators and staff encourage students to become part of the solution through their participation in the Anti-Bullying Committee.
“We have to make sure everyone is ok,” said seventh-grade student Cesar Olguin. “It is everyone’s responsibility to put a stop to bullying. Please report bullying to a counselor, your parents, or teachers.