By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Public Affairs August 14, 2013
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Bullies beware. As the 2013-2014 academic year begins, the Bavaria Military Community is partnering with Department of Defense Dependent Schools administrators to stop bullying in its tracks.
According to the National School Safety Center, school bullying is the most under-rated school issue. Research shows that over 160,000 students nationwide skip school each day due to peer cruelty and over half, approximately 56 percent, of all students have witnessed a bullying crime take place while at school.
"Our goal is to reduce bullying behaviors and create a more respectful community and learning environment," said Ann Bruennig, School Liaison Officer for the BMC. "And students are asked to help by reporting any bullying to a trusted adult - their teacher, Child, Youth and School Services staff, coaches, chapel volunteers, they are all there to help."
Bullying is an imbalance of power and comes in many forms. Bullying students may demonstrate their strength by overpowering their peers physically by pushing or fighting.
Accessing embarrassing information or using one's popularity to control or harm others verbally or via social media (cyber-bullying) is another form.
While the anti-bullying campaign is working toward eliminating these types of behaviors with all agencies that work and volunteer with children and youth, it is not a quick fix.
Bruennig said the campaign is about prevention - changing destructive attitudes and behaviors and replacing them with healthier habits.
Children take a vow to respect and honor their peers and learn the impact of their actions. In turn, educators reward positive behaviors and demonstrate zero tolerance when it comes to bullying.
The anti-bulling campaign was first launched within the Bavaria Military Community in October 2011 at Garmisch Elementary-Middle School. It found its way to Grafenwoehr last year and has so far seen success.
"The cooperation of community organizations has helped get this awareness across the BMC," said Bruennig. "We are seeing positive changes."
The program successes incorporate numerous community entities. DoDDS principals and teachers, CYSS personnel and guidance counselors, work alongside members from religious services, Directorate of Emergency Services and Family Advocacy program, as well as school based behavioral health and adolescent substance abuse prevention counselors to access risks and diminish bullying behaviors.
The campaign allows military children to learn and grow in a safe and nurturing environment both in and out of school.