Irmo – Five schools in Lexington-Richland School District Five attended the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) youth anti-bullying summit, Bullying...NOT In Our School!, on September 13 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. The event hosted by the SCDE Office of Student Intervention Services aimed to help students learn the importance of taking a stand against bullying and develop an action plan to reduce bullying in their respective schools.
“The Anti-Bullying Conference was a wonderful opportunity to witness students from different schools, from different backgrounds and various ages coming together with the intent of addressing bullying in their schools. There was so much energy in the room and I was proud to see so many representatives from School District Five leading the way on behalf of their peers,” said Kelly Brown, School District Five Student Services Officer.
Students in grades 4-12 from Nursery Road Elementary, Seven Oaks Elementary, CrossRoads Intermediate, Irmo Middle and Irmo High attended the event.
CrossRoads Intermediate school counselor Laura Jones said, “As students get older, peer relationships change and teaching students the skills they need to be able to navigate complicated peer relationships is important. We want students to be a part of the solution to bullying. A positive school culture helps students feel safe in school so they will better be able to learn.”
According to the organization, STOMP Out Bullying, one of four teens are bullied, one out of five kids admits to being a bully, or doing some bullying, and depending on their ages up to 43 percent of students have been bullied online.
Irmo High School students attending the Summit represented grades 9 - 12 with a variety of interests and backgrounds such as band, athletics, JROTC along with a new student to the school, a student that has been the bully and a student that was bullied.
“This event allowed students who would not usually share ideas with one another to bridge gaps and come to a mutual understanding of what bullying is, what it looks like and what can be done to help as a victim, a by-stander and a bully,” Irmo High school counselor Hannah Barnett said. “Students discussed the idea of the stigma of popularity needing to be replaced with kindness to all, that acceptance should be a priority and student leaders need to set the example for the majority.”
School District Five Superintendent Dr. Christina Melton said, “As Superintendent, a top priority of mine in School District Five is to promote a work and learning environment where students and staff feel safe physically, emotionally and socially. We applaud our students for having the courage to have these conversations and take action to prevent bullying in schools and create a safe space and family environment for all students to learn and grow.”