DPS works to stamp bullying out at an early age

Thursday, December 6, 2012
Chris Dishman (far right) poses with kids after delivering his anti-bullying message earlier this year.

As children, many of us probably witnessed bullying first-hand or were possibly a victim of bullying ourselves. It seems that bullying has been around as long as recess has been in place, but Dyersburg Primary School is looking to change that culture and eliminate bullying altogether from its school grounds.

Chris Dishman, home-school advisor for DPS, has been visiting each classroom at the school this year to discuss bullying, teaching students to identify bullying behaviors and encouraging students to eliminate them. His visits are part of the School Wide Positive Behavior program and include a reward system for positive behavior.

"Bullying has become accepted in our society," said Dishman. "People say that it's just a phase and it's something that kids will grow out of, but anytime you intentionally say or do things that hurts others, it's bullying."

During his classroom visits, Dishman focuses on the school's Stop, Walk and Talk program as a way to combat bullying. He explains to kids that making good decisions and eliminating bullying will lead to DPS being an even better school than it already is. The keys of the Stop, Walk and Talk include:

1. Ask the bully to STOP the behavior they are doing. Kids are taught to place their hand out and say the word 'stop'. Dishman stresses to kids that a teacher that sees this will come and protect them.

2. Walk away

3. Talk to a grown-up

Dishman teaches students that if they are in danger they should skip steps one and two and go straight to a grown-up. After talking to kids about bullying and what it looks like, Dishman distributes necklaces from SWPB. Kids have the opportunity to earn charms through the program, such as a little bull that says 'I don't bully' after they listen to Dishman's anti-bulling message.

"It's something fun that they will love and incentives like that really motivate this particular age group," said Dishman.

Dishman says one of the biggest challenges is educating children on what bullying is exactly versus what they have been taught by other adults in their life. Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and can include actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Teaching kids the differences at such a young age is a tough task but DPS is already seeing results. According to Dishman and DeBerry, the number of discipline referrals at DPS has seen a decrease over the last six years.

"Our bullying program plugs right in and teaches kids to be a good friend," said DPS Principal Linda DeBerry. "If we can start at 4 then maybe it will not be a problem at 16."

"Maybe years from now people will look at Dyersburg Primary School as the first place that really got it and can point to us as the place where bullying came to an end," added Dishman.

View 4 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • How ridiculous! Having to face bullies is an important part of growing up, builds character. This just encourages kids to become snitches so they can be used to the government's advantage when they're grown. Guess what parents, the government is also encouraging your kids to snitch on you, their parents.

    -- Posted by A Touch of Reality on Thu, Dec 6, 2012, at 9:29 PM
  • An older boy tried to bully me when I was 14. He was 18 and a well known bully. He tried to get me to perform a sexual act on him. I broke away and ran home. I never told anyone, but I later walked up behind him and struck him with a two by four piece of lumber. I went to visit him later and told him if he bothered me again, I would do him worse next time. He never bullied me again. When the word got around, no one else ever bothered me. No one messes with the meanest kid in town.. Bob Boatright

    -- Posted by Bob Boatright on Fri, Dec 7, 2012, at 10:37 AM
  • Bullying should not have to be a part of growing up. Yes it happens to some and you need to learn techniques to deal with it but let's not pretend like it is okay and if a person chooses to intentionally hurt another person they should be dealth with accordingly.

    The same thing applies to online stuff. Anyone ever seen the Dyersburg Topix forum? It is pure trash and nothing but libel and defamation by cowards who hide behind a keyboard. That is not what free speech means and even if you avoid the site it still goes into google search engines meaning a person can have their reputation destroyed by lies. It happened to a couple of people I know. Everyone needs to learn to act like that of the human instead of a savage.

    -- Posted by personwithvoice on Fri, Dec 7, 2012, at 1:59 PM
  • What ever happened to "treat others as YOU would like to be treated"? I guess unless you're one of those who like that sort of thing. One day it will be a law that we have to LOVE one another.

    -- Posted by sdf1914 on Sun, Dec 9, 2012, at 2:58 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: