By SHANNON WATKINS
“We’re all excited to talk about this,” says Dublin Middle School Principal Robin Keener, “We’re inviting our community to come and realize we’re all in this together.”
Keener is referring to the school’s Anti-Bullying Community Kick-Off Event, which will begin at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the school football game. Business and community leaders will be introduced during halftime to demonstrate the community’s solidarity with the goal of ending bullying.
“We also want to define what bullying is and what it is not,” she says. “It’s intentional behavior that’s repeated over time to attempt to hard or hurt someone else. It involves an imbalance of power, physical, social or another kind.”
As far as bullying itself at Dublin Middle School, Keener says, “I don’t think it’s more so than any other school. I think it’s a problem everywhere. I think in a middle school this is always a topic of conversation. It’s a problem not just for those bullied but the bullies themselves.
The undertaking was developed through Olweus, a company that offers several projects to schools tailored to address different problems, such as bullying, dating violence and youth suicide.
“I had read or seen a newsletter that Radford City had used it and found it successful,” said Keener. “This is not the only thing going. There’s such nationwide attention to it. Students are bringing us things they have found. We did this one though a grant with New River Community Services. Our three feeder schools – Dublin Elementary, Snowville and Riverlawn – are doing it, too.”
While bullying used to be a fact of life in schools, it’s now, as Keener pointed out, under national scrutiny, and it’s far less acceptable to turn a blind eye to it. She says that one of the program’s trainers likened it to smoking in restaurants: something that used to be the norm, then became less so, and will hopefully become a thing od the past as society evolves.
“It’s a process to change our culture,” said Keener.