Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

October 24, 2013

Bullies beware: Change is here


Bullying may occur on the Internet, on the street, at school during recess, in the hallway and even in the classroom, Henrichs said.

Nancy Reye is all too familiar with bullying that occurs outside the classroom.

She said her son Tom was bullied as a third-grader at Old Mission Peninsula School, mostly during recess. Other boys continually challenged Tom to contests or dangerous activities, she said.

“There wasn’t enough supervision on the playground,” Reye said. “They’re left to their own devices, so there’s nobody catching these problems.”

Reye said school officials didn’t believe her son was being coerced into his actions, so she moved him to private school.

The Henrichs also had trouble getting the schools to acknowledge and follow through on their complaints.

“The one thing that makes me cringe is when I’m in talking to a teacher or a principal and I keep hearing over and over again, ‘my perception of the situation is…’” Kari Henrichs said. “When you’re trying to bring something up to them, their perception to me doesn’t mean squat. It’s the perception of the student who feels as if they’ve been bullied or unsafe in any way.”

She believes too few parents are willing to reprimand bullying behaviors at home.

“I think the schools are trying, I just don’t think there’s enough follow through,” she said. “If it’s not carried over to the home, it’s basically a slap on the wrist at school and they’re going to continue doing what they’re doing.”

The Olweus program aims to fix those and other low-supervision situations by training bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other non-teaching staff how to recognize and confront bullying situations.

Staff and students learn there’s more than just a bully and victim in each incident.

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