'Be a buddy, not a bully:' Fort Bragg anti-bullying campaign urges students to find common ground with each other
Miley Grimm, right, a music teacher at Irwin Intermediate School, leads students in anti-bullying songs at the "Be a Buddy not a Bully" assembly, Nov. 10, at Fort Bragg. The anti-bullying campaign taught students how to build character and learn the value of differences.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Elementary school can be an exciting time in any child's life. With new friends and classes, it can shape a child's outlook on their education and aid in developing their social identity.

Unfortunately, some children dread the prospect of going to school each day, not because of the classes, but because of that one classmate who chips away at their self-esteem.

Bullying is an issue that has recently been highlighted in the media across the nation and it's grabbing the attention of schools and parents alike.

"Bullying has moved to the national forefront and is an issue that needs our attention," said Charlie Council, principal, Irwin Intermediate School.

In an effort to focus on bullying, schools across the nation are creating programs to educate students and parents on the subject, and Irwin Intermediate School is following suit.

From Oct. 13 through Nov. 10, Irwin launched an anti-bullying campaign that, through a series of activities, performances and workshops, aimed to give students the tools to tackle the issue.

The "Be a Buddy, not a Bully" campaign is one of many themed educational months implemented by Irwin as part of the Department of Defense Safe Schools Program. The campaign's mission urges students to tap into their personal courage, make an effort to celebrate each other's differences and find common ground to help them connect to other students.

"The idea is to have students focus on what they have in common so that they can find a way to bond, instead of teasing each other because of their differences," said Diana Levy, school counselor, Irwin Intermediate School.

Levy has noticed a change in some of the students and smiled with pride as she recalled the efforts of one little boy to befriend students with whom he normally might not have associated with.

"One student in particular, after we began this campaign, took time each day to stop by the special needs lunch table to say hello. He's trying so hard to be friendly and kind, it really shows our progress," said Levy.

This campaign could be a big step in changing how students view bullying and what they do to prevent it, but the underlying theme is character. Students are being given the tools to build character and learn the value of differences that make each person unique. This is not your average science or math lesson, this is a life lesson.

"Character definitely counts," said Levy. "Not just in school, but in life."

Page last updated Thu December 1st, 2011 at 00:00