Brandywine teachers learn to bully-proof classrooms

Published 2:09 pm Wednesday, August 27, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Bully proofing school was the topic of a teacher in-service at Brandywine Middle-High School's cafeteria on Tuesday.
During the in-service, Brandywine Public Schools teachers listened to Marcia L. McEvoy, Ph.D, a licensed psychologist and an expert in the area of violence prevention, including the prevention of youth suicide.
On Tuesday, McEvoy talked about ways the teachers can prevent bullying and violence from happening at their schools.
McEvoy, who has worked in Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan, and is a sought after violence prevention consultant, has worked in a variety of settings, including public schools, community mental health centers, child diagnostic clinics, and two universities.
She has also co-authored a book related to these issues.
Part of her presentation, therefore, was to inform teachers how to recognize, and how to deal with bullying complaints and peer pressure problems that take place at schools.
Among common mistakes teachers do, McEvoy said, is telling students and children to either ignore the bullying they are exposed to, or that the students will have to learn how to stand up for themselves.
Teachers mean no harm when saying these things and think they are helpful when in fact they drive the students away from seeking help again, she said.
McEvoy said recent research has shown 25 percent of all students in elementary, middle and high school are involved in bullying, or being bullied on a fairly regular basis.
The bullying starts as soon as children start school and peaks in grade eight and nine before subsiding to fewer incidents in the latter years of school.
Beth Law, a former Merritt Elementary K-2 teacher, who is now a high school counselor, enjoyed McEvoy's presentation.
As a counselor, however, she has been exposed to much of the same material before.
Mary Wood, a Brandywine Public Schools Adult Education teacher who sat next to Law, agreed.
Wood said there often seems to be an understanding bullying only takes place in schools with a lot of minority students.
Wood, however, said if you look at several of the large school shootings in this country, the majority of students weren't minority students.
Dave Roeder sat at a different table and enjoyed his lunch with colleagues.
A Brandywine High School social studies teachers, Roeder offered interesting insights into the problems associated with bullying.
Roeder said in the first half of her presentation, McEvoy gave good examples of the small things that can lead into bigger things, such as gossip and intimidation.
He found the presentation informative.
One of the reasons teachers often don't pick up on bullying is because, as mentioned above -- they don't know how to recognize it -- or they don't have time to deal with it.
Roeder thinks bullying and violence happens everywhere. "Violence doesn't only happen at large schools, so everyone has to be aware," he said.
McEvoy will return to Brandywine Public Schools sometime this fall to speak to parents about bullying and violence.