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Shirley students learn to walk away
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SHIRLEY — On Jan. 20 and 23, the PTA sponsored Vanish Bullying, at Shirley Middle School and Lura A. White School. Jason Kallio, also known as Jazzy J. from “Say it with Magic,” came to the schools to perform and teach the students about bullying and what to do when you are bullied or see someone being bullied.

The first point Kallio expressed to the students was that everyone has the right to feel safe at school. He then identified the three types of bullying: physical, verbal and emotional. Kallio described the bully as a person who feels the need for attention, is tough and jealous of other people.

Inappropriate behavior was described as breaking things, laughing at others (how the person looks, acts or talks), leaving other people out and hitting other people. Appropriate behavior is thinking first before talking and acting, respecting and helping others.

Using optical illusions, Kallio had the students look at a spinning wheel with a circular pattern for about 15 seconds. Then he instructed students to look at his head. His head appeared to grow smaller. He compared this to the victim who feels smaller when bullied. He showed the students how to walk standing straight up and how to look confident.

One student asked, “Can you fight back?”

Kallio recommended that the best thing to do is walk away, but sometimes you cannot get away. He told the students not to fight because fighting is wrong. He said that if necessary, students should use enough physical force to get away and run to an adult. Kallio said the program does not recommend responding to violence with violence.

How bystanders of a bullying incident can help the victim was also addressed during the presentation. Standing and watching someone get bullied is actually a form of bullying, said Kallio. He recommended that the bystander go up to the bully and tell him that he is using inappropriate behavior and it is not nice. The bystander should then leave the bully and ask the victim to go with them — remove the victim from the situation.

He asked the students to make the school a bully-free zone. He asked that everyone sign their names to a bully-free zone poster, creating a safe place for all students at the schools.

Meredith Marcinkewicz’s fourth grade students went back to their classroom and wrote, “bullying matters if you want a safe year in school walk away and be calm.”

Jackie Quesnel, guidance counselor, is reinforcing this program using the social-emotional learning program, Second Step, at both schools.