SIDNEY– School violence and bullying are growing concerns throughout ther city, state and nation. Sidney City Schools is taking action against bullying. Sidney Middle School has kicked-off their school-based program by providing a positive, cohesive learning and social environment to ensure students’ ability to thrive in the hive.
The SMS Against Bullying campaign delivers intervention strategies for students, staff, and parents to consistently bring awareness and education of bullying, mental wellness, and safety topics. This campaign will deliver information through structured lesson plans weekly during the intervention period while cultivating a themed unit for all classroom discussions.
Following Thanksgiving break, students began a six-unit curriculum scheduled through May. To help pledge commitment amongst the students, guest speaker Kris Haines was invited to motivate and encourage our students to be the best advocate for themselves and one another.
While Haines is a notable athlete at Sidney, The University of Notre Dame, and among the NFL, he is also a respected public speaker with his anti-bullying presentation. Haines, a graduate of Sidney High School, was at Sidney Middle School on Friday, Jan. 14, to speak to the students.
During his presentation, Haines shared his grades school experiences with mistreatment, as he prefers to say over the term “bullying.” He shared how he was able to skirt the harassment and meanness of his fellow peers, and even how it helped him become a better athlete.
His message focused on the three parts of any “bullying” situation—the target (the person being harassed), the aggressor (the person doing the harassing) and the bystander. He expressed that being part of the solution includes not being a bystander, as doing so gives the aggressor an audience and implies consent that the bullying behavior is okay. Recognizing that a bystander’s next steps are complicated, he offered some options to the students to help them if they ever find themselves a bystander.
Haines stressed the notion that every student has a right to be respected and feel safe in their learning environment. And likewise, each of them has the responsibility to ensure the right of others to be respected.
He encouraged the students to be a part of the solution, first by being kind, but also in developing a safe school environment plan.
Seventh- and eighth-grade students were privileged to see Haines speak live, while fifth- and sixth-grade students watched via livestream in the classroom. Intervention time was spent doing a lesson called “The Greatest American Hero” in which students talked about bystanders and their role in bullying scenarios. Students grouped up and created a hero bystander, noting the traits that would make a bystander someone who could “stop bullying in a single bound!”
Future actions and events
A part of the SMS Against Bullying campaign, staff will receive professional development from Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services and the Family Resource Center.
A series of family engagement opportunities are also scheduled. Amy Simindinger with the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center as liaison for juvenile court, alongside local law enforcement, will hold a parent presentation at the middle school on Feb. 24, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. This presentation will cover bullying basics and cyberbullying topics. Families are invited to attend this impactful presentation.
To help close the unit topics and conclude the campaign, a nationally known guest speaker will talk with students, staff, and community in April. This exciting theatrical production will teach an award-winning “Peace Sign” approach to conflict resolution through live music, illusions, and story-telling!