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Special programs address bullying in Columbia schools

Daniel Shapiro
Credit Daniel Shapiro / KBIA
Stars hang in Patti Watts’ classroom on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. The stars have messages written by the students about activities that make them happy.

October is National Bully Prevention Month, and some local schools are addressing the problem with special programs and discussions.

Every morning in Patti Watts’ classroom at Jefferson Middle School, she begins the day with an 18 minute advisory session, and this month, the topic covered is bullying. Watts’ enjoys this time with her students, and believes this more relaxed atmosphere gives students the confidence to speak their minds.

“Advisory is really fun because it’s a chance to connect with the kids without the pressures of assignments and points and that type of thing,” said Watts.

Watts’ believes that making these sessions interactive for her students makes it more enjoyable for everyone. She uses every day, ordinary items, like toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube, to demonstrate that once hurtful words have been said they cannot be taken back, just like toothpaste cannot go back inside the tube.

   Brooke Githegi, the Outreach Counselor at Jefferson Junior High School, believes that these sessions on bullying are important in helping students become their own advocates to end bullying.

   “I think bullying is a big topic to tackle because it has so many legs to it. It has a lot of components, and kids sometimes don’t realize that just talking about it with a friend or talking about it with a teacher can alleviate the issue,” said Githegi.

   School officials hope that this small amount of time spent talking about bullying, will make a big difference and help students to be more willing to stand up for themselves and others when bullying occurs.

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