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FRIDAY, APRIL 18, 2014  01:12:58 PM

‘Bully Bands’ to help end bullying

Email   Print   Share By Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Staff
April 21, 2011 | Living
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Seventh-grade students show their “Bully Bands,” which provide students with a phone number they can call or text to report an incident of bullying. Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Staff
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CYSS supervisor Tina Smith talks to Smith Middle School students about “sexting” during a “band against bullying” assembly April 14 at Smith Middle School. Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Staff
A collaboration of the Fort Hood Police, Killeen Independent School District, and Child, Youth and School Services launched the “Band Together Against Bullying” program April 14 at Smith Middle School.

Police Captain Jonathan Caylor credited Officer Patricia Thomas, the Gang Resistance Education and Training instructor at Smith Middle School, and Sandra Forsythe, Smith Middle School’s principal, for coming up with the idea once they identified the growing epidemic of bullying in schools.

“There’s nothing that’s actually speared the program,” said Caylor, commenting that it has been more of a gradual development. “As educators and law enforcement, it’s our responsibility to make sure that when we see trends like that start to develop, that we attack those and try to stop it, or at least educate people on how they can prevent it from happening.”

During the assembly, Forsythe stressed to students that this program does not mean that Smith Middle School currently has a problem with bullying.

“This is a program of prevention,” Forsythe said. “A proactive program, so that we don’t have to react.”

A seventh-grader involved in the GREAT program last year said she didn’t understand why people bully.

“My personal opinion on bullying is if you bully, how far does it get you in life?” Abbiegayle Sjostrom asked. “It may not put you down, but it does put the other person down. It doesn’t make you cooler. It’s not cool.”

Caylor said that the ultimate goal of the program is to give the kids an extra voice, and provide them with an extra person who will listen to them.

“They can call the number on the ‘bully band’ and actually be able to report an incident anonymously or to give specific details about that information,” Caylor said. “And then we can provide that student with the appropriate resources to help them deal with the bullying.”

Students are encouraged to call or text the number (289-4750) on the band at any time, 24/7, to speak with a school-based law enforcement officer. If the student feels more comfortable reporting the incident anonymously, that is an option that they have.

“We just want as much information as possible,” Caylor said. “The more information we get about bullying – how it’s happing, who it’s happening to, where it’s happening at – the better. And the more comfortable that a person feels about sharing that information, the easier it is for us to be able to deal with it on a case-by-case basis.”

The program will be piloted at Smith Middle School with the possibility to later expand to other schools in the district.

“Middle school, that’s the biggest transition phase,” Caylor said. “You’ve got kids coming out of elementary school that have been on top for a year or two. And then they come into middle school, and all of the sudden they’re on the bottom.”

Sjostrom agreed that middle school can be especially tough at the beginning.

“I think it will help them a lot, because middle school does get really hard once you come in,” Sjostrom said. “There will be people that will judge you, (but her advice would be to) just blow it off. Blow it off,” she repeated.

Thomas closed the assembly by emphasizing to students that by calling this number, you’re not snitching. You’re taking the power away from the bullies.
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