Taking A Stand Against Bullies - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/3/06-Frankston

Taking A Stand Against Bullies

160,000 kids a day avoid going to school because of bullying. For Julie Pharr and the Cherokee County Crisis Center, that number is just too high. That's why they're reaching out to East Texas Schools with a program called Take A Stand.

"The first thing is, we want them to identify what a bully is. Then, we help them identify some of the things that a bully physically, verballly and emotionally does to people. Then, we move on to 'What are you going to do about it," says Pharr.

The Take A Stand program uses role playing to teach kids they have the power to stop the bullying.

"I say, 'Oh, come on, come on. You know what you really want to do.' Then, they get all pumped up and say 'Yeah, we want to fight.' I ask them, 'Okay, what's that going to wind up doing?' And they always say, 'Well, everybody gets in trouble then," says Pharr.

Last year, the state passed the Bullying Prevention Act which requires schools to take a more proactive approach. That's one reason Teresa Hibbler with West Side Elementary in Jacksonville asked Julie to present the program at her campus.

"It really is a big problem, because kids on the bus get bullied, and kids at schools get bullied and of course, there's e-bullying over the internet," says Hibbler.

Hibbler says the program helped open the lines of communication between students, parents and teachers.

Some local schools are going above and beyond the state mandate, and taking a very specific approach to stop the bullying.

At Frankston Middle School, Principal Chris White says that means identifying each child's issues, individually.

White says "When an issue comes up, we call mom and dad, and say, 'Look. You need to be aware of this. These are some things that have been brought to our attention.  Are you seeing this thing at home, and do you have any ideas that can help us?"

Counselor Dianne Beard says addressing those bullying issues early on keeps them from getting out of hand.

Sometimes, they're not even aware that they are really causing a lot of heartache for another child," says Beard.

Frankston Middle School hopes to add the Take A Stand program to their current curriculum, and keep their school a no bully zone.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com

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