Jefferson Middle School Works to Prevent Bullying

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COLUMBIA - October 9 marks Unity Day, one of the specific days celebrated during October's National Bully Prevention Month.  The day, sponsored by the National Bullying Prevention Center, aims to bring students, teachers and parents together as one cohesive band to fight bullying in schools across the country.

Throughout October, Columbia District Middle Schools, including Jefferson Middle School, have implemented programs to educate students on bullying and methods to counter the national epidemic. 

Each morning at Jefferson Middle School teachers give an 18 minute lesson on bullying and the resources available for students if they or a friend are being bullied. 

Brooke Githegi, a Jefferson Middle School Outreach Counselor, said the program lets students know they have somebody to talk to about their situation. 

"There's different scenarios that the kids are hearing about," Githegi said. "They are watching them on videos and hearing about other kids' experiences with bullying and how they've come through that experience. The feedback from students has been great. They have told me that they really appreciate the opportunity to talk about things that don't pertain to their regular school day."

Each year, 28 percent of students in grades 6 through 12 experienced some form of bullying, according to the National Bullying Prevention Center.  The center says 64 percent of those bullied did not report it to anybody.

Jefferson Middle School Assistant Principal Jimmy Hale says educating students is essential when trying to deter bullying in schools.

"Often times, our students don't understand the resources available to them," Hale said. "And these are such formative years and kids can be cruel. We always like students to know that we are their biggest advocates in the building."

In the coming weeks, students at Jefferson will make posters educating other students about bullying. On October 25, the school will hold "Mix It Up Day" which will have students sit at different tables during their lunch period in order to better get to know each other.