Defining Bullying Could Help Keep Students Safe

By: Elizabeth Lamb Email
By: Elizabeth Lamb Email
A proposed bill in Virginia would define bullying in an effort to keep students safe.

Two teenage girls (15-17) pointing at girl crying beside locker

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY -- A proposed bill in Virginia would define bullying in an effort to keep students safe.

Sarah Figgatt, a Spotswood High School junior, mentors students about anti-bullying practices.

“I feel like everyone has at least experienced some form of bullying. That's why it's so important. It's so present,” said Figgatt.

Students launched a bullying awareness program this fall. It uses a definition close to the one proposed in Virginia's General Assembly and Figgatt said it's made a difference.

“Since we've defined bullying, a lot of students are actually interested in learning what's bullying, what's not bullying and just being a role model.”

Last year, Spotswood High School had only three cases of bullying reported. So far this school year, that number has more than doubled thanks to its new advocacy program.

Gina Roth, the bullying program coordinator, said a definition would make it easier to discipline. She wants students to know school can be a safe place.

“It would be great to get the kids through high school and successfully on their way to college or whatever it is that they plan to do and they feel good about themselves, that there's not someone who's constantly making them feel bad,” said Roth.

Figgatt is one of more than 40 students at the school working to promote an anti-bullying message among its student body.

“Since elementary school, teachers have been drilling us, 'Oh, Don't bully,' but when you have an upperclassman, a role model, telling you, 'Hey, bullying isn't cool,' they're more inclined to listen,” said Figgatt.

The anti-bullying program is paid for by an 18-month grant from Virginia's Department of Health. Other schools in Rockingham County have looked into adapting a similar program.

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