Bullying is mental, bullying is verbal and bullying is physical. That message was emphasized to students of Denmark-Olar Middle School during a bullying workshop on Aug. 29.
“Bullying is about control mentally, physically and verbally,” said Paulette Evans, who created the workshop two years ago.
A former teacher from Sumter, Evans has conducted the workshop in more than 28 South Carolina schools in the past year. She shares her message at elementary and middle schools.
“I saw personally … how bullying impacted children and adults at schools,” she said. “If we don’t target (children) by middle school, then it will be too late by the time they reach high school because … they’ve already got their minds made up by the time they reach ninth grade.”
Evans combines slapstick comedy, PowerPoint slides and involves students in skits to keep them engaged during the presentation.
“It’s really something the students can understand,” she said. “The program has been well received.”
Her messages to the students were clear:
* Don’t bully someone into getting what you want. Respect your parents. “My mom is 84, and I still say ‘yes, ma’am’ to her,” Evans said.
* When you’re being bullied, “Stop. Walk away from it and talk to an adult about it,” she added.
* Cyber-bullying is illegal. “Sending someone a threat through the computer or in a text message is illegal,” Evans said. “It’s nameless, it’s faceless, but it’s against the law.”
At the end of the workshop, she told the students to stand up and repeat, “We won’t be bullied!”
Daryl Brockington, principal at Denmark-Olar Middle School, said having Evans speak to his students was more of a precautionary tool against bullying.
“We’ve had small cases (of bullying),” he said. “It’s preventative measures to make sure we don’t have any large-scale bullying. It was a great opportunity to expose our children to the problems that are caused by bullying.”
Additionally, Brockington said the school hosts its own character education assembles throughout the year that touch on bullying, self-esteem issues and the characteristics of depression.
“I feel that it’s always important to discuss the yields of bullying, along with the causes and effects, and to help students realize the importance of respecting each other and themselves,” he said.
Brockington said the school paid for Evans to conduct the workshop.