Avoyelles Parish is taking steps to prevent bullying in schools by educating students and teachers this month.
“A lot of education needs to be done across all districts,” Avoyelles schools Superintendent Dwayne Lemoine said. “We’re definitely doing what we can to educate our employees.”
Teachers completed an online in-service about anti-bully to become familiar with signs and methods of addressing bullying in October, which is National Bullying Prevention Month.
Educators then take what they’ve learned and teach their students — from pre-K up — about the signs through presentations, projects and guest speakers, with more coming in November as well.
“A lot of kids don’t recognize it now,” Lemoine said. “Our biggest concern is that they won’t share with an adult.”
Lemoine said the district is working with local social clubs and an anti-bullying organization to bring in applicable speakers. Efforts like these are raising awareness of all types of bullying, including cyber-bullying.
“With the social media, no one is excluded (from bullying),” Lemoine said. “It can follow them everywhere.”
Marksville Elementary hosted a poster contest, and the winners released balloons outside the school last week to signify releasing bullying, third-grade teacher Liz McSween said.
“(Bullying) is a real problem in public schools,” McSween said. “You deserve to be in a safe environment where you can love who you love. … The climate is much more protective.”
Students signed an anti-bullying contract and have been pointing out any such behavior, she said.
“It’s really an initiative we’re passionate about,” she said.
But it’s not only about safety. Students can’t learn in that environment.
“It hurts feelings. It hurts academic progress,” McSween said.
She said students are responding well to efforts at her school spearheaded by Principal Cindy Schaub.
“It’s a safe environment for the teachers as well as the kids,” she said.