Grand Junction man fights back against bullies
Phoebe Prince. Asher Brown. Tyler Clementi.
Although their names have faded from national headlines, their plights with bullies have not been forgotten by one Grand Junction resident.
Rudy Malesich, a former middle school principal and county coroner, is making it his goal to reduce bullying in area schools by bringing parents and school administrators together as a combined front against perpetrators.
“To me, there are parents that are doing terrific jobs, and there are schools doing terrific jobs, but they’re doing them separately,” Malesich said.
Six months ago, Malesich created http://www.BullyPTA.com, which serves as a forum for discussion and a bridge between schools and parents.
“I thought, ‘How could I, along with others, do something that would really help parents address bullying with their children, and really help schools address bullying with parents and with their students?’” he said. “What we’re trying to do is provide a very usable tool where parents and educators can actually work together to really move forward with bullying.”
The website features a video showing bullies in action. The bullying ends with a young boy being zipped into a body bag, and another boy in handcuffs being placed in a police car. In the video, Malesich asks parents to open up a discussion with their students.
Communicating is the first step in eliminating bullying, Malesich said. The next step is for schools to listen closely to parents, followed by taking actions to address the issue. The final step is to check back to make sure the problem has been handled effectively.
“It’s not necessarily a program. It’s a process,” he said.
Malesich decided to take action against bullies after witnessing the issues first-hand over the course of his careers.
As Lake County coroner, Malesich saw the violent effects of domestic disputes.
“I saw a lot of poor modeling as far as conflict management was concerned,” he said. “I saw what could happen as a result of people not getting along, people not resolving conflict in appropriate ways.”
That poor model of conflict management would then trickle down through the children and creep into the schools, which Malesich witnessed during his time as a principal at Fruita Middle School.
“I saw both sides (of the issue),” he said.
His career as a middle school principal also allowed him to see how School District 51 handles instances of bullying.
“From my experience in our school district, we’re on a very effective path to addressing bullying,” he said, “but everybody’s job could be made just a little bit easier, or the results could be enhanced, if everybody worked together. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Malesich said hopes to continue expanding resources on the website. An e-book written by students and parents who have dealt with bullying is in the works.