Program aims at reducing bullying among students

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Sixth-graders from across Beaufort County participated in a special district-wide anti-bullying event designed to raise awareness and empower bystanders to intervene when students are being bullied.

“See Something, Say Something” featured thought-provoking skits performed by the theater department at Beaufort High School.  The production was viewed by sixth-graders in the northern part of the county on Monday, November 19 at Beaufort High at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.), and by sixth-graders in the southern part of the county on November 20 at Bluffton Middle School (8:30 a.m.) and Hilton Head Island Middle School (11 a.m.).

“The idea is to get students to step up and be accountable — to take responsibility for their own behavior and also to protect their fellow students,” said district Chief Student Services Officer Gregory McCord.  “If you see someone being bullied, you need to find the courage to say something to your parent, to your teacher or to a school resource officer.  It’s hard to be a bully when two or three or more stand up to you.”

The Rotary Club of the Lowcountry co-sponsored the events and provided anti-bullying reading materials to students at the event, and students also received bracelets that read “Speak up against bullying” and that carry the school district’s toll-free anti-bullying hotline (843-322-2435 or toll-free 866-611-1102; e-mail bcsdbullyinghotline@beaufort.k12.sc.us.)

Bullying is a significant problem nationwide.  A study by the Family and Work Institute reported that one-third of youth are bullied at least once a month, and children who witness bullying feel helpless or worry that they will be the next targets.

“Being pushed around or beaten up is not acceptable at school or anywhere else,” McCord said.  “Bullying damages kids, period.  It hurts their academics and it damages their relationships with other kids. And if it continues, it can lead to unhealthy lifestyles when they become adults.”

Last week’s events are part of a broader district-wide effort aimed at improving student behavior. Every school in the district has anti-bullying measures in place, and many of those efforts are led by students.