Anti-bullying campaign becomes a focus in Ascension schools

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Sheriff Bobby Webre speaks during press conference to announce the Sheriff's Office partnering with Ascension Public Schools, Oct. 07. The new campaign titled "Don't Stand By; Stand Up!" aims to end bullying in schools.

Ascension Public Schools launched an anti-bullying campaign alongside the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office. The campaign titled, "Don't Stand By; Stand Up!" is focused on bystander intervention.

This will provide students with the resources and understanding on how to foster an environment where bullying is not tolerated.

"The collaboration and the relationship that the Sheriff's Office has with the school system, it is so strong," Sheriff Bobby Webre said. He says this started with putting school resource officers in schools, and it has continued with implementing a tip line to report bullying.

Last year, Ascension Public Schools brought in experts to work alongside 100 students from each high school, the Early College Option, and APPLe Digital Academy to discuss bullying.

"What our students wanted was a means to be able to work and create a culture of kindness and inclusion on our campuses, but really didn't know how to get that process started," Director of Secondary Schools Mia Edwards said.

And since then they have been focused on making that a priority. They created a video that will be shown to middle school and high school students this year. During this time they will have an opportunity to lead group discussions with students.

"Unintentionally making others feel excluded or as outcasts leaves a lasting impression on them," stated the campaign video which emphasized the need for bystander intervention. It displayed several measures that students can take to ensure everyone is treated fairly.

Other aspects of the campaign include assemblies at primary schools. Assemblies feature a skit with McGruff the Crime Dog, the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office anti-bullying wristbands with the campaign slogan, posters throughout schools, and diversity training for educators and students.

"All of our schools have worked very hard to support our students in developing the appropriate, effective communication skills, how to manage their emotions and make sure that we practice empathy and help them to negotiate conflict," Assistant Superintendent of Ascension Public Schools A. Denise Graves said.