SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — We are only a couple of days into the school year, but it is never too early to tackle some important issues students face, regardless of their age.
Bullying is something the Springfield Public School district says it wants to address right away this school year with students.
The first week of school is a time that students are familiarizing themselves with their surroundings and classmates. It can be a scary time for kids, but faculty says stopping bullying is a group effort.
As the counselor at Delaware elementary school, Robyn Fondren makes it a priority to stop bullying before it ever starts for all of the kindergartens through fifth-graders she looks after.
“I think the first week of school is important because we have reminders for everything. We remind kids about walking in the hallway, about sitting in their seat, about raising their hand. So, of course, we are going to remind them about how to be a kind friend and a respectful classmate,” Fondren says. “Sometimes students don’t know what a friend is, or what it looks like to be a friend. Not only have friends, but to be a friend.”
She says they classify bullying if it meets checks three different boxes.
“So it’s always repeated, intentional, and power-based. If we do have a report of bullying there is definitely that happens between myself and sometimes we add in our principal. We take the appropriate steps,” says Fondren.
Those steps could be a conversation between students, the principal, and many times they’ll bring in parents.
The district stresses open dialogue between families as a crucial part to stopping and preventing bullying
Krysten Bean has a 4th grader in the district. She believes that staying engaged with her student is key to preventing issues at school.
“I just try to make sure and ask her how she is doing, how everyone around her is doing, what her favorite part of the day was, and maybe what her least favorite part of the day was,” Bean says.
Meanwhile, Fondren says many students could have trouble opening up about their issues. For parents, be persistent.
“If the student doesn’t talk the first time, don’t stop asking the questions. Continue that open dialogue, continue to talk to them, and let them know that you’re there to listen and help. Our school is here to help as well,” says Fondren.
No matter what grade your student is in, the SPS encourages families to contact their school’s counselor or principal right away in the event of any type of bullying, whether it’s face-to-face or cyberbullying.
The district is big on the mantra of “See something, Say something.” You can make an anonymous tip by texting the number 417-319-2901.
The district will step in and work to stop problems and tend to any issues they receive messages about.