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Salem High School Addressing Bullying Problem

By Bruce Kropp

Salem Community High School has turned to a cross-section of students in the school to deal with the bullying problem.  Assistant Principal Kelly Conklin felt that was a better approach than programs she had seen that address the issue from an adult point of view.   Seventy students from each grade level and from all segments of the school population volunteered to talk about the problem.  

She reports one thing became apparent during the discussion, the students didn't know what to do when they became a bystander when a bullying act was completed.  "Fifteen-percent of our student body is actually involved in being a bully or a victim and that's why we really want to focus on the bystander because that is the majority of our student body.  They are the bystanders and they don't know how to react to situations, and that's what we're hoping to get across to them in this anti-bullying program", said Conklin.  

And what should be the role of the bystander?  "We're not actually encouraging them to face the bully, but to empower the victim by approaching the victim, not necessarily the bully", said Conklin.  

Conklin thinks such actions by the bystanders will cause bullies to rethink their actions.  The 70 students are being paired up to lead discussion on the bullying issue in each home room.  The program will be conducted at the same time State Police are in the school for the annual teen safe driving program.  Conklin hopes the combination of the two programs can help students be more compassionate and kind to each other.  

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