Stopping bullies in their tracks

Written by Dick Mason, The Observer November 26, 2012 01:48 pm

A skit on bullying is conducted Tuesday at Central Elementary during a school assembly. Central counselor Linda Carlsen, a cast member, is shown talking to students portraying bystanders at a bullying incident. Later in the skit the students report what they saw and heard to a school official. DICK MASON - The Observer
A skit on bullying is conducted Tuesday at Central Elementary during a school assembly. Central counselor Linda Carlsen, a cast member, is shown talking to students portraying bystanders at a bullying incident. Later in the skit the students report what they saw and heard to a school official. DICK MASON - The Observer

Central program teaches students to be buddies 

Bullies can make the brightest of children feel helpless. 

No child, however, should feel helpless when encountering a bully or seeing someone struggling with one. In fact, they should feel empowered. 

This is the belief of Linda Carlsen, a counselor at Central Elementary School. Carlsen is leading a program at Central aimed at making her school a “Bully-Free Zone.”

Carlsen emphasizes that there is not a bullying problem at Central. However, she said it is important to raise awareness of the issue because bullying is getting worse nationwide. One reason is the increase in cyber bullying via the Internet. 

The staff at Central, led by Carlsen, is striving to let children know they have the power to end bullying of all types. This message was made emphatically during a school assembly on the subject Tuesday.

“You have the ability to stop bullying. All you have to do is report bullying if you don’t want it to continue. It only takes one person to make a difference. You can be that person,”
Central Principal Reta Doland told students at the assembly.

A skit on bullying written by Carlsen, “Trash Talking,” was the highlight of the assembly. The skit featured Carlsen, Doland, third-grade teachers Sharon Bullock and Kristy Boyd, fourth-grade teacher Misty Hines and fifth-grade teacher Leslie Graham.

The Central staff members portrayed children involved in bullying. 

One staff member played the role of a girl who is a bullying victim. The victim is ridiculed for the clothes she wears. The issue is successfully addressed when children played by actual Central students report the bullying to school officials.

“They go from being bystanders to reporters,” Carlsen explained.

One thing Carlsen is striving to emphasize during her effort to make Central a “Bully-Free Zone” is to make children aware of exactly what bullying is.

“A lot of children don’t understand that it is not just physical action but also gestures and words,” Carlsen said. 

She said some children do not realize they are playing the role of bullies.

“All of us inadvertently do things that we don’t realize will have the impact they do,” Carlsen said.

Children sometimes do not understand they are bullying someone because many people witnessing it are often laughing, the Central counselor said. 

“If the person who is the target of the action or words is not laughing, then it is not teasing,” Carlsen said.

The theme of the program Carlsen is leading is a proactive one.

“We are teaching students to be a buddy, not a bully.”