By Chrystal Smith (USAG Wiesbaden)October 26, 2011
WIESBADEN, Germany - With stateside incidents of youths committing suicide and homicides as a result of being picked on or harassed by peers, it's no wonder Department of Defense Education Activity officials are making a grand effort to stamp out bullying.
Wiesbaden Middle School enlisted the help of 73 V Corps Soldiers and parents to address the matter of bullying with students during SAVVY Commitment Day Oct. 13.
"It's a powerful message when our community stops and gives attention to how important this issue is," said Frankie Nielsen, Wiesbaden Middle School counselor, of the participants who volunteered to talk to students to promote SAVVY fundamentals.
SAVVY, or Students Against Violence and Victimization of Youths, Commitment Day made Soldiers the mouthpiece of the message of anti-bullying.
"This is what they're fighting and sometimes dying for," said Nielsen who said it was appropriate that Soldiers be a major part of getting the messages to the youths.
Individual Soldiers and parent volunteers worked with small discussion groups of students and worked through topics such as the collective benefits of promoting non-violence, respect, kindness and courtesy toward others, the violence continuum -- the seeds of violent crimes such as put-downs, insults, threats, trash talk, bullying, pushing and fighting, and the attributes of a SAVVY-trained environment.
Nielsen said the shaping of mental attitudes and behaviors happens during the ages that children are in middle school, based on research. Therefore, an extra push is being made to provide the special training now.
"Psychologically it's like an iceberg," said Nielsen as she explained that the youths are in a major transition phase of life.
Taking a note from the Army's protocol on handling issues, it was recommended that peers try to amicably solve matters at the basic level, but to seek help if that approach is not effective.
"Try to solve problems at the lowest level. … If problems are too big, reach out for help," said Pvt. 2 Quinton Pittman, Signal Company, V Corps.
And while officials and volunteers were hopeful of efforts to stop bullying, there remained the reality that some cases may still go undetected.
"It's never going to be gone, but you can control yourself," said Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Foldenauer, Signal Company, V Corps, as he worked through the topics of the day with a small group and encouraged the students to take responsibility for their actions and non-actions.
Because this is a reality, faculty and staff are working various angles to ensure children and incidents of bullying or harassment are not overlooked.
"We do have conflicts and we have to make sure that we're handling them positively," said Nielsen.
Students also wrote about different things one can do to take steps toward achieving peace in their environment, and they were encouraged to take the SAVVY pledge, promising they would take an active stance in the campaign on anti-bullying.
Statistics and facts about bullying
* About 42 percent of children have been bullied while online, with one in four being verbally attacked more than once.
* About 35 percent have been threatened online.
* About 58 percent have reported that something mean has been said about them or to them online.
* Other bullying statistics show that about 77 percent of students have admitted to being the victim of one type of bullying or another.
* The American Justice Department bullying statistics show that one out of every four children will be bullied sometime during their adolescence.
* 46 percent of males followed by 26 percent of females have admitted to being victims in physical fights as reported in one report of bullying statistics by the Bureau of Justice School.
* Many studies have shown that increasing domestic violence at home are leading to an increase in bullying online and at school.
* Researchers note that one way to help begin to lower these bullying statistics is to tell an adult when it is happening. (Information courtesy of www.bullyingstatistics.org)