Tope fifth-grader takes on bullies

Eleven-year-old Aubrey Emmons didn’t want her classmates at Tope Elementary to suffer the taunts of bullies or think it was OK to become one.

She created an anti-bullying club at the elementary school after her older sister was bullied so badly at one local middle school she transferred to another. The club, started last month, has 11 members and is open to third- through fifth-graders.

Each Friday morning before school, club members gather to discuss with a teacher and a counselor what bullying is, what students should do if they see someone bullying someone else, and work on posters and other projects that discourage bullying. A main strategy for dealing with bullies discussed in the club is to “talk, walk and squawk.” That means a person who is bullied or who sees a person being bullied should ask that bully why they’re being mean, walk away, and tell an adult what happened.

The club also teaches students how to recognize when they or a friend are being bullied.

“There are so many different types of bullying,” Aubrey said. “Almost everyone in the club has been a bully and been bullied.”

Club member Truett Richardson, 11, said students are unlikely to bully again after learning more about the topic.

“Now they know how it can affect people,” Richardson said.

Tope’s anti-bullying club is the first of its kind in School District 51, according to Susana Wittrock, District 51 executive director of equity and minority student performance. The district’s new community anti-bullying group, the School Equity Advisory Committee, will take stock of all school anti-bullying efforts, including the club, at a meeting next month.

“We’re starting to really focus on doing something with meaning about bullying,” Wittrock said.

The committee, made up of 19 parents, district employees and employees of local community-based organizations, will provide intermittent input to the school board about bullying prevention. The school board approved the committee’s creation in February.


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