Indiana recruiters help students identify and stop bullying
October 13, 2011
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- There's an epidemic in our schools that accounts for over 160,000 absent students nationwide every day, according to the National Education Association. What is surprising is that none of these students is missing school because of an illness. The condition keeping these students away is the fear of attack or intimidation brought on by bullying.
The Chicago Army Recruiting Battalion's South Bend Company is working with area schools to educate teachers and empower students through the Army Strong Student Anti-Bullying Pledge.
Captain Wesley Lewis, company commander of the South Bend Company, says that social media sites have extended bullying beyond the school day.
"Students with access to personal computers or cell phones can be victimized by several people 24-hours a-day," Lewis said. "That's why an effective anti-bullying program is so important to students."
The Army's anti-bullying program incorporates the Army Values of respect and personal courage as a basis for the pledge.
"It takes a genuine effort to respect people that are different and we as Army representatives are seen as defenders of this value," Lewis said. "Students demonstrate personal courage by wearing the Army wrist band we give them for signing the pledge and thereby agreeing to stop bullying in their school."
Lewis says the South Bend Company plans to reach out to over 30,000 students through the campaign.
"We started by giving our presentation to the superintendents, principals and vice principals under the assumption that they in turn would be our advocates in the schools," Lewis said. "This campaign is win-win for all involved and a true partnership between the Army, the 79 schools in my area through the message we bring to the students."
The response has been incredible according to Lewis. "The schools have rolled out the red carpet because they understand that we were talking about a subject that they too are passionate about halting," Lewis said.
Two recruiters from each of the five South Bend stations have been trained to present the anti-bullying training, which discusses the four types of bullying: verbal, psychological/social, cyber and physical. Students are given various scenarios and asked to distinguish between the various forms of bullying in an attempt to identify actions they might have done that could be construed as bullying. The instructor then talks about the Army Values of self respect and personal courage and how they counteract the effects of bullying.
The training concludes with students signing the Army Anti-Bullying Pledge where they agree to demonstrate leadership by not participating in bullying activities, show respect to all their peers and refuse to engage in verbal, physical and cyber bullying.
"This campaign shows the schools, administrators and the community that the U.S. Army cares about our kids and that we are committed to winning the battle on this widespread epidemic of bullying in our schools." Lewis said.