News

Earlier the better to stop bullying

(From left to right) Laura Long, Grade 7, Cameron Screen and Emma Williams, both in kindergarten, Josh Collins and Lauren Jenkins, both in Grade 7, gear up for anti-bullying week at Glenwood Elementary School on Monday. Josh and Lauren sign an anti-bullying pledge that will be up at the school for the rest of the week for both students and parents to sign.   - Colleen Flanagan/The News
(From left to right) Laura Long, Grade 7, Cameron Screen and Emma Williams, both in kindergarten, Josh Collins and Lauren Jenkins, both in Grade 7, gear up for anti-bullying week at Glenwood Elementary School on Monday. Josh and Lauren sign an anti-bullying pledge that will be up at the school for the rest of the week for both students and parents to sign.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

When it comes to combating bullying in all its forms, the most effective steps are those taken early.
Jovo Bikic is the principal of Glenwood elementary in Maple Ridge, and like many schools across School District No. 42, Glenwood will be celebrating Anti-Bullying Day today.
Bikic says teaching children that their words and actions can help as well as hurt can’t start soon enough.
“At this stage, you set the groundwork for how they will treat each other for the rest for their lives,” said Bikic. “Elementary school experiences are huge, they create the foundation. And the positive things will stand out, and that’s the seed we want to plant.”
The school has planned a week’s worth of events, including an anti-bullying assembly, a pink button fundraiser, a pink shirt day, and an event where all the students at the school will link arms.
“It’s to symbolically say, ‘We’re in this together, and we help support each other,’” said Bikic. “We are one school and one community.”
When nearby Mount Crescent Elementary School closed last June due to low enrollment, Glenwood was faced with influx of hundreds of new students.
With so many new faces, there was the potential for conflict between new students and the old ones.
“There hasn’t been any tension at all, which has been really good,” said Bikic. “The one thing that we hear from parents is that their kids have more friends now.”
Being located not far from downtown Maple Ridge, the school population has its challenges, Bikic admits.
“We have kids who are vulnerable because of their socio-economic situation,” he said. “But they have a ton of potential. It’s really unbelievable how caring they are.”
At Glenwood, like most elementary schools, the fight against bullying is a year-round effort, he notes.
“It’s not a problem at our school, and we want to make sure it doesn’t become one,” he said.
When conflicts arise, the school’s administration brings the children together to discuss the matter. Staff help mend friendships, and show students how their actions can affect others.
“It’s not about discipline, it’s about re-establishing a relationship,” Bikic said. “We want to create a learning experience.”
The school also has a buddy system, where older students are paired with younger students to help mentor them.
Bikic says he hopes the lessons touched on by the anti-bullying campaign will spill over into other aspects of children’s lives.
“It’s about effective communication ... and building a positive and caring culture,” he said.

• For more information on Anti-Bullying Day,
see pages 25-30.

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