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OC Elementary gets creative for bullying prevention

(Dec. 21,2012) With all of the fanfare and enthusiasm that one would typically associate with chanting to Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” Ocean City Elementary School presented its own anti-bullying curricula to the county’s Board of Education this week, bringing to the primary level a topic that is typically reserved for the high-school level.

“O-C-E-S Stand Up! Speak Up!” students sang to a choreographed number before each read part of an outline of the program, and, in unison, the pledge that all students took at a recent assembly.

“I can do my part to stop bullying. I can stand up for myself and others around me. It takes strength, courage, and positive leadership. I can do it. I can make a difference.”

The idea of the program, according to OCES Principal Irene Kordick, is to encourage students to support their peers against bullies when problems arise. Too often, Kordick said, bullying is an isolated, one-on-one scenario in which bystanders are reluctant to intervene.

“Research shows that they key to eliminating bullying is in empowering children and adults to stand up and speak up for themselves and others when confronted with bullying,” Kordick wrote in her summary of the program.

“Studies have shown that more than one-half the time, bullying stops within 10 seconds of a bystander stepping in to help.”

The main element of the program is a daily scenario, posed to students via the morning announcements, that questions how they would react in a certain circumstance that involves bullying or intimidation and are discussed with peers and teachers. The theme is to teach reactions of empathy and tolerance.

“I think, too many times, it [the bullying issue] is put on high schools and middle schools,” said Assistant Superintendant for Instruction Dr. John Gaddis. “When you start with these young people, you start the change at that level and it moves along.”

“I personally believe, as a principal, that we have a lot of educated people, but we don’t have a lot of kind people,” Kordick added. “It’s not just a kid problem, it’s an adult problem, and a national problem.”

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