Brookings resident Gordon Clay is frustrated that the Brookings-Harbor School District isn’t doing more to address bullying, so he decided to create an essay contest to shine a light on the issue.
“I want as much awareness out there as I can get so adults learn how to talk to their kids (and) learn how to support kids who are either being bullied or are bullies,” Clay said.
Currently, the Brookings-Harbor School District is talking to district staff more, teaching lessons about bullying in advisory and will participate in “Rachel’s Challenge,” a program that teaches people to combat bullying and create a culture of kindness and compassion, according to its website. The Brookings-Harbor School Board recently changed its bullying and harassment policy as well.
“We’re really focusing on talking to the kids and paying attention,” Hodge said. “Bullying falls into the category that you can never do enough. It’s in the public eye. … “We’re here to do what’s best for kids. That’s why we all got into this field. We’re here to educate the children, and they have to feel safe to get what they need.”
Clay, who also organizes the “Through My Eyes” alcohol essay contest in collaboration with Brookings-Harbor High School and the Curry Coastal Pilot, thought an essay contest would be a good way to spark conversation.
He also wants “to encourage the school administrators, local (law enforcement) and judges to take a ‘No tolerance’ stance and dole out serious consequences to students and adults who violate the bullying, hazing, harassment, and cyberbullying laws,” Clay wrote on www.TheCitizensWhoCare.org.
The contest is open to private, public and homeschooled students in grades kindergarten through 12 up to age 19 in the Brookings-Harbor area. Essays should be postmarked by Sept. 28 and sent to Bully Prevention Essay Contest, PO Box 1080, Brookings, OR 97415 or submitted on www.TheCitizensWhoCare.org.
To enter, students need to write a 350- to 500-word typed, double-spaced, nonfiction essay about their experience of being bullied or observing bullying and feeling they can’t do anything about it, Clay said. Students may submit anonymous essays.
Sample essay topics include:
-“How bullying has affected my life? Whether it’s scary or positive, feel free to share it.”
-“Are you dealing with peer pressure to join in to bully a classmate? How do you say no?”
-“How you have helped a friend who has been bullied or how you have helped a friend to stop bullying others. Are there specific ways you and your friends have avoided using being a bully?”
•“What do you know about the dangers of depression from being bullied and that it can lead to suicide?”
•“How often do you see bullying on your school campus?”
•“If you are homeschooled, do you get bullied by students attending a local or private school? How has that impacted you?”
The top 10 essays will appear in the Curry Coastal Pilot during the month of October, which is National Bullying Prevention Month, and the winners will receive a gift certificate to Dairy Queen.
The contest is needed because “studies show that a great many students are bullied before, during and after school which can lead to students not feeling safe at school and lead to depression and some to suicide,” Clay wrote. “And, the public will get to see the kind of impact bullying has on them from their perspective. It’s time to listen.”
According to the 2010 Oregon Healthy Teen Survey, 21 percent of sixth graders, 23 percent of eighth graders and 15 percent of 11th graders in the Brookings-Harbor School District don’t feel safe at school and 12 percent of sixth graders, 10 percent of eighth graders and 7 percent of 11th graders in Brookings-Harbor School District did not go to school for at least one day in the last 30 days because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school.
“To me, if kids don’t feel safe to go to school … something is really outta whack,” Clay said.
“I want honest stories of how (students have) been impacted by bullying. We know the numbers. We know what happens to kids who drop out of school.”
For more information on the contest, please visit www.TheCitizensWhoCare.org.