WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- An increase in reports of bullying in local schools toward the end of last school year presented a challenge to Andrea Attaway-Young, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base school liaison officer. She was not just frustrated by the uptick in the number of reports, but also concerned about the possible follow-on effects for student victims.
The Kid Power website, www.kidpower.org, reports students who are bullied are at risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, anxiety and depression. Victims are twice as likely as their classmates to suffer from head and stomach aches. Many avoid the situation by skipping school.
“That’s why we want to try to get in front of it,” Attaway-Young said. “Students, children, are staying home from school in tremendous numbers. We want to help them understand there’s a better way.”
Attaway-Young’s idea was to have what she describes as an old-fashioned, 1960s-style peace day.
She reached out to helping agencies on base, such as Family Advocacy and Military Family Life Consultants; local school districts and community organizations like Ohio PTA and the Dayton International Peace Museum.
On August 2, the Stop Bullying—Give Peace a Chance event was held in the WPAFB Religious Education Facility with about 120 students participating.
There was a mix of games and teaching moments. The concept was to have the students play an active role in helping each other.
“I can stand and talk to them, I could lecture them for three hours,” Attaway-Young said, “but they are going to learn better from working with one another.”
Games and face painting was interspersed with students working on skits to demonstrate prevention and intervention techniques.
Emphasis was placed on the idea that everybody has an anti-bullying role to play.
“The main point of what we’re trying to do today is to tell you to help your friends,” Rebecca L. Westlake, 88th ABW vice director, told the students while leading a discussion. “Tell a teacher, tell someone to stop bullying.”
It is a lesson Hannah Haley, 11, daughter of Renea Haley, 88th Medical Support Squadron, took with her.
“If it’s happening to anyone, you have to stop it,” she said. “And, if it’s happening to you, try standing up.”