Franklin City Public Schools to put bullies on notice

Published 9:53 pm Thursday, October 13, 2022

The Virginia School Boards Association is again taking up the cause of confronting the issue of bullying in school divisions throughout the commonwealth and has declared October as VSBA Bullying Prevention Month. Naturally, Franklin City Public Schools heartily joins in this  campaign.

An FCPS news release stated that the VSBA believes that school board members, superintendents, school leaders, teachers and parents can play a critical role in creating a climate where bullying is not tolerated. It has been proven that when adults and children stand together, bullying ends. 

Childhood bullying is a significant problem nationwide. It can cause school absenteeism, mental  and physical stress, poor school performance, poor self-esteem and, in some cases, school  violence. Statistics also show that students who experience bullying are at an increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement and dropping out of school. 

The National Center for Educational Statistics reported that one out of every five (20.2%) students report being bullied. This means that upwards of 13 million school-aged children are  bullied each year. 

Charles L. Spain Jr., principal at S.P. Morton Elementary School, said about this issue, “More  and more students are standing up, speaking out against bullying, and encouraging other students to do the same. It is important to understand that silence, inaction and indifference are some of the greatest enablers of bullying. Each time people stand up and denounce bullying, they are taking one more step toward ending bullying altogether. ‘WE’ here in Franklin City Public Schools are ‘Upstanders!’ and will not tolerate any student feeling unsafe at the hands of another.” 

Dr. Regina Stafford, principal at J.P. King Jr. Middle School, added, “The scholars of Franklin  City Public Schools love school and love to learn; it is our responsibility as leaders in the school  division and as citizens of the city of Franklin to work together to ensure that our students have a safe environment to do just that. We have adopted the mantra, ‘If you see something, say  something because silence is approval.’ During our Anti-Bullying Campaign, we will focus on educating our scholars on the signs of bullying, what it looks like, how it could affect victims, and action steps to prevent it from happening. Knowledge is power!”

Travis Felts, principal at Franklin High School, said, “Franklin High School and Franklin City  Public Schools stand united against all types of bullying. Bullying affects students’ self-esteem, ability to learn, attendance at school, and their right to a safe environment in which to learn. Parents, if your child shares with you that they are being bullied, picked on or harassed at school or on social media, please contact the administration of FHS, and we promise to address the situation immediately.” That offer, he added, of course also applies to students. 

Locally, each school has come up with activities and lesson plans to not only highlight this issue but also offer ways to find solutions to the bullying: 

FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL 

◼ Classroom Guidance and Cafeteria Chats targeting bullying prevention. Woodburn Press  pamphlets will be used as support documentation. This includes materials regarding bullying and bystanders, students against bullying, parents and bullying, targets and bullying, bullies and bullying, and cyberbullying. 

◼ Anti-Bullying essay contest as part of the Building Foundations for Greater Character  Program initiated by Franklin High School’s Guidance Department. Acceptable submissions include an essay, drawing or picture identifying bullying and/or how it can be prevented. Gift cards will be awarded to the first- and second-place contest winners. 

JOSEPH P. KING JR. MIDDLE SCHOOL

◼ Classroom guidance lessons using toothpaste and toothpicks to demonstrate the difficulty of taking back mean or hurtful words. 

◼ Bullying Prevention poster contest. The contest winner’s design will be printed on a shirt that is sold to students, staff, parents and community members, with proceeds going toward a charity of their choice. 

SAMUEL P. MORTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

◼ Each hall will be given a theme for a door-decorating contest that incorporates the students’ vision and thoughts on bullying prevention. An ice cream social will be awarded to the winning classroom. Parents will be invited to come celebrate with their children. 

◼ Chalk4Peace. This organization, which started in Arlington in 2003, offers a creative way for young artists of all ages to express themselves using the theme of “Peace.” Pictures of the sidewalk art will be shared with Chalk4Peace to be included in their global electronic portfolio. 

The VSBA, a voluntary, nonpartisan organization of Virginia school boards, promotes excellence in public education through advocacy, training and services.