Doing Nothing is Not an Option
A larger group of concerned parents and community members met last night at the Berthoud Community Center to discuss bullying. We heard stories of repeated bullying and no proactive attention from school administration at TMS and we also heard an example of successful intervention in a bullying situation from a Berthoud High School parent where Principle Garcia involved all the parents, the football coach and followed through with actions that prevented further bullying.
Organizers are asking the community to attend the Thompson Valley School District meeting tonight May 4th at 7:00 PM at 800 South Taft Ave. in Loveland, to bring attention to the issue of bullying at TMS. They hope that their voices will be heard by those who have it in their power to make necessary changes. They ask that participants document as completely as possible what happened to their child and how the administration handled the situation. Written statements are strongly suggested and will be handed to the Board members for their review. There will be a sign up sheet as you enter the meeting that must be signed if you want to speak. Karen Stockley, Berthoud parent and TVSD School Board representative suggested that public comments be well prepared and at three minutes. If there are many speakers comments will be timed. Organizers want community members to know that you are not alone and they will stand side by side with you to protect our children and give them a voice.
Again it was an emotional meeting. We heard from one TMS girl who described a detailed suicide pact with her best friend to be carried out later this year. This child has been repeated bullied at TMS.
Lisa Scott, a Statewide Bully Prevention Champion gave an excellent presentation that stated statistics:
Less than 30% of physical violence is reported
Verbal abuse is the most common form of bullying affecting boys and girls equally.
70% of bullying happens under the radar of adults
6% of students bully
9% are targeted
85% are bystanders
Teachers intervene 4% time
Students intervene 19% of the time
Ms. Scott recommended a book by Barbara Coloroso, The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander.
Reasons for bullying are cultural and include: A sense of entitlement, intolerance of differences, liberty to exclude and imbalance of power. The three rules of her program Power Up are:
1) Doing nothing is not an option
2) Stay Safe
3) Don’t bully back
Ms. Scott pointed out that positive outcomes against bullying are made by focusing on the 85% of bystanders. Her program brings kids together to form a plan of how to best deal with bullying and gives them the language and actions of how to do it. She offers programs and training for kids and adults. An adult training will happen this June 3-5 and will cost $100 for room, board and training. The majority of the costs are being provided by a grants. Please contact:
Lisa Scott, Manager Mission Delivery Region 7
Girl Scouts of Colorado
1600 Specht Point Road, Suite 101
Fort Collins, CO 80525Lisa.Scott@gcolorado.org
Ms. Scotts’ approach addresses concerns that the programs that are currently available to TMS students are not working. Adults tell kids how they should approach the problem and it simply is not working. Children do not think or process confrontation like adults. A parent commented that our children are told to Talk, Walk, then Squawk and to try to handle the problem themselves. Children that do “squawk” are often targeted for more bullying and are called into the principle office during school hours which singles them out.
Brenda Peacock, parent organizer, spoke about a program the she hopes will help called safe2tell- www.safetotell.org
call: 877-542-7233. This program leaves a paper trail for children and parents to report anonymously. She cited positive outcomes including: disciplinary action, referrals for counseling and interventions by police and administration. While safe2tell is available it alone is not enough. Ms. Scott said that if enough parents call or e-mail the program that it will help.
Victoria Baldwin a Berthoud parent, recommended engaging the Berthoud police if you are not getting a response for school administrator. She asked parents to be specific with the police with the details of the bullying activities. Her involvement with the Berthoud police has been positive. Ms. Baldwin said, “It is devastating, the fact that we have children in town that are hurting themselves”.
Claudia, a TMS school employee and secretary to the school councilors told the group that the TMS administration is committed to the safety of our kids and are doing as much as they can. She also said that more needs to be done.
Scott Crossen spoke about the need to provide more tools to the children to protect themselves. He has offered free boxing and self defense training for kids. Please call Berthoud Athletic Club and leave a message for more details 970-532-CLUB.
Monica and Harvey Bauer again stated their resolve to fight for our kids. Their daughter Nicole, a TMS student committed suicide this year and was known as a Defender of bullied kids at TMS. Being a Defender puts kids in a very desperate, high stressed position and leads to feelings of hopelessness.
A suicide expert spoke about signs of depression and reminded that it is not the fault of family and friends that the disease took the life of the victim much like a physical disease results in death. We were reminded that Nicole Bauer did not suffer from depression.
The Bauer’s also spoke to people in this community who have targeted this group of parents as agitators or people who are on a witch hunt to go after the administration at TMS. They followed the rules to keep their child safe and did everything in their power to protect their child. They were engaged parents and hope that none of us find ourselves with the gravity of loss and frustration they are experiencing.
Finally thank you to the Bauer’s for their courage to fight for our kids and community while struggling with the loss of their precious daughter. Thank you to members of the community who cared enough to come to the meeting. Thank you to our school representative Karen Stockley who has relayed concerns to the Superintendent and School Board Members. Thank you Richard owner of Royal Digital Reprographics of Loveland who refused to take payment for the signs advertising the meeting. Thank you to organizer Brenda Peacock and the experts who took their time to offer to help our community. If you would like to be added to the mailing list of concerned community members please contact Brenda Peacock 970-692-0202.