School is taking a strong stand against bullying. Through an innovative new
campus-wide initiative, "Speak Up and Be the Change," students,
teachers, parents, and administrators are joining together to put an end to
bullying on campus and in the community at large.
At Adams, they don't buy into the clichés that "kids will be kids" and "kids are just mean at this age." The over 930 -student middle school in North Redondo is part of growing movement to change how bullying is handled. "It's more than just a one-hour assembly or showing a short video once a year. It's a culture that starts with kindness and on a fundamental level changes how we as a school respond to bullying -- consistently and all the time," says Anthony Taranto, Principal. "All matters involving bullying on our campus, online or anywhere else in our community will be handled swiftly and appropriately."
It is estimated that over 13-million American kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation. Plus, with the popularity of social media, victims of bullying can now be subject to harassment 24/7. Putting an end to bullying may seem an insurmountable task, but what makes Adams Middle School's anti-bullying campaign so powerful is that involves the community at every level. Students, parents, teachers and staff are all united in their commitment to foster kindness and stop bullying behavior.
Teachers are sporting "Speak Up and Be the Change" t-shirts, they are continually talking about bullying in the classroom and assigning lessons on this important subject. Administrators are conducting a series of school-wide assemblies, including talks on cyber-bullying and creating a dialogue for change. And, most importantly, the students themselves are actively engaged in the effort. "We have students making films about bullying, hanging posters in our hallways, demonstrating random acts of kindness, and taking pledges to stand up against bullying," adds Taranto. Counselors are also on hand to provide counseling services to students have been victims of bullying. The school is even planning a special Parents' Night screening of BULLY, a documentary film directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, which documents how bullying has touched five kids and their families.
"Our parents play an important role because we know that if a child has a strong sense of self they are less likely to be a victim of bullying and more likely to stand up for their self and others," says Taranto. "We know that teaching and modeling tolerance, kindness and empathy begins in the home, but we are also doing our part to reinforce those behaviors on campus," says Taranto. "If we are united in our actions and behaviors, I know we can be the change."Also, like many other schools in the area, Adams has Safe School Ambassador and WEB (Where Everybody Belongs) programs that regularly support anti-bullying initiatives. "As a parent, I can definitely see a change occurring. Kindness is contagious. When my son comes home from school and shares stories of how he and other students are joining together for the positive it makes me very proud," says Cindy Malouin, Mother of an 8th grader at Adams.