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Donna Barker

Taking a swing at bullying

She lives out-of-state. She’s in middle school. She’s overweight. On her first day at school, she’s bullied and taunted for her weight. She wants out.

This girl is a real girl; a girl I’ve met. But it could just as easily be any girl, any boy, in any school, in any town.

This is a rough way to start a school year.

When I was told about this girl’s first day back at school, it felt like a kick in the stomach to me. No one should be punched around physically or emotionally, much less a child who has already experienced enough heartaches and challenges to buckle many of us to our knees. I can’t imagine her discouragement, her fear, maybe anger.

There’s nothing I could do to help this girl. I don’t know the family that well to offer any kind of comfort or a listening ear.

But still, I can’t let her story slip through my hands like it never happened.

Maybe this isn’t the wisest time to bring up the topic of bullying, especially with the school year only a few days old. Kids and staff are just getting settled into a routine. It’s too soon for anyone to get bored or to feel superior to others and to make fun of whomever they feel is a worthy target. Or is it?

Maybe now is the best time to talk about bullying before it happens or before it becomes a pattern.

Bullying has got to be one of the biggest mysteries in life to me. It’s hard to comprehend why someone would be deliberately cruel to someone else.

Trying to get inside the bully’s mind — is it an attempt to make the other, thought-to-be “weaker,” person look or feel bad, so the bully will feel better about himself/herself? Or is because the bully somehow truly perceives himself/herself to be smarter or stronger than others and therefore above consequences for their actions?

The problem of bullying is there, not just in schools, but also in workplaces, even in some families.

But I do believe there are some answers to be found.

I was really encouraged at Monday’s meeting of the Princeton Elementary School Board when Logan Junior High School Principal J.D. Orwig announced the school is bringing an anti-bullying program, “Rachel’s Challenge,” to the school on Sept. 18. The program focuses not just on the anti-bullying message but also encourages a “random acts of kindness” kind of lifestyle, Orwig said.

The Sept. 18 program will include assemblies with the Logan student body and the Reagan Middle School student body. A training session will be held with 30 to 50 Logan students. In the evening, there will be a special program for the parents and community.

I can’t imagine a better way to spend a couple hours on Sept. 18.

I’m sure there are many other schools around Bureau County who are also beginning their school year with their own anti-bullying programs and plans.

All things considered, the best I understand it, we are all in this thing called life together. We can make it easier for each other ... or harder.

And, from what I’ve seen and experienced, the more we help others and build into others in a positive way, the stronger we become ourselves.

BCR Senior Staff Writer Donna Barker can be reached at dbarker@bcrnews.com.

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