Beating Back Bullying Before It Starts In Cleveland Schools
Should wearing a beat-up pair of shoes get a kid bullied? More than 300 middle-schoolers pondered that question this week at Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s (CMSD) annual anti-bullying summit.
The youngsters started laughing as soon as summit organizer Edward “DJ Phatty” Banks flashed a photo of worn-out sneakers.
“If J.J. wore these shoes, what would you say – and y’all better keep it 100,” he said.
“Most people, they would make a big scene and get everybody to see…” the kids admitted.
But the laughter stopped when Banks challenged students to help instead of hurt. The session was just one exercise in two days devoted to stopping bullying.
CMSD also has programs in place for kids as young as pre-kindergarten in an effort to stop bullying before it even starts. The “Not on Our Watch” bullying prevention program is being used from pre-K through high school in Cleveland to help kids build social self-control and critical thinking skills, as well as keep school a “safe, warm environment.”
Psychologist Bill Stencil the executive director of CMSD’s social emotional learning curriculum, said summits like the one this week and the school district’s other efforts pay off in several ways.
“Our attendance rates our improving and we know some young people stayed away from school when they’re being bullied,” Stencil said.