SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Several area schools took a step toward eliminating bullying on Friday by giving students the information to stop it.
The most important lesson of the day at Derenne Middle School came during lunchtime - but it can be applied to anytime.
“Most of the time, the students are the eyes and ears because they’re around each other for a good part of the day, and they hear a lot,” said Leslie Walker, Derenne Middle School, Social Worker.
Derenne was among seven area schools to participate in the Peach State Health Plan’s No One Eats Alone Program. As a result, students learned about recognizing and preventing bullying.
The lunch hour was chosen because it’s a time when some students can be isolated.
“It was really fun. I like the encouraging words everyone was talking about each other, and it was really fun to meet new friends,” said Alesia Williams, Derenne Middle School, 6th Grader.
“We were talking and stuff and we were laughing and joking,” said Chase Hines, Derenne Middle School, 6th Grader. “I met a new friend and she said she liked the Rams, too.”
The program brought together sixth graders from different classes, so they were not necessarily comfortable with each other before they sat down, but they were by the end of the presentation.
“Absolutely, they were excited about the information, they were engaged and ready to get out and share the information with their peers,” said Erica Gaines, Peach State Health Plan, Community Relations. “Bullying is running rampant in our area, so we want to make sure that they are part of the message and become leaders.”
Leaders who can have a unique role in eliminating bullying.
“Kids know each other, so the best way to combat bullying is to make sure they are empowered and that they share it with other peers. It is very important to educate students and to make sure they know, if you see something, say something, and not say in silence if something is going on.”
It’s a message that could change the rest of the school year at Derenne and more.
“I think it will be a whole lot better to use encouraging words to other people you don’t know and make new friends.”
Students learned about cyber bullying and physical bullying in addition to isolation at lunchtime.