Students in the anti-bullying task force created a survey that garnered 1,803 responses out of a little over 1,900 students. In it, 11 percent, or about 200 kids, reported that they consider themselves a bully at least sometimes.
That percentage, school board member Stephanie Moran said, shows a need for supportive behavioral interventions. Senior Austin Chambers suggested a kindness education class that he said would be worth it if even one student was changed.
Moran said officials do “need to make a cultural change” to help stop the bullying. It’s not a unique topic for schools all over, she added, and the majority — on AHS’ survey — think it’s wrong.
But the majority of students, 83 percent, also said they had never reported bullying while 33 percent reported they just ignore it rather than stand up to it.
”Ignoring is part of the reason we’re here, honestly,” Anderson Police Chief Larry Crenshaw said. “It’s not fixing the problem.”
Instead, he added, officials should help the kids “get a grasp” on what they need to do when a situation arises.
Thompson said the focus at this point is “how are we going to make sure kids have a voice to be heard and how are we going to make sure kids feel comfortable in walking up to Johnny, who’s being bullied, and walking him out of that situation.”
”(Anderson High School has) got to create that environment that says ‘I have permission to do this and I’ll be supported in doing it,’” Thompson said.
In the meantime, he added, administration is stepping up supervision in areas of bullying such as hallways and working to let kids know they can come stand near an adult if they’re being bullied.
Chambers, who founded the school group Equality United, said he’s been bullied himself multiple times already this year, oftentimes kids bumping into him purposefully or calling him names.