By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Enid grandmother Patsy Shepard is tired of the bullying she hears about at her grandchild’s middle school.
Three of her older grandchildren attended the same Enid school without encountering what the grandson now attending there sees, Shepard said.
Now she hears about students bullying each other, disrespectful and explicit comments boys make to and about girls, and students being so disrespectful to teachers that one of the teachers cries.
“One girl was bullied every day and in her own front yard — by the same girl,” Shepard said. “When the girl finally had enough, she socked the bully. The principal expelled the girl who was being bullied and did nothing to the bully or her friend.”
Some students have transferred from the school, Shepard said. She said her grandson is so fed up with what he’s seeing happen as school he has asked for homeschooling next year.
“It’s got to stop and the principal doesn’t do anything about it,” Shepard said.
Shepard said it’s a problem with roots in the homes.
“Parents have got to start disciplining their children,” Shepard said. “Not abusing them, but teaching them discipline.”
Enid Public Schools has initiated programs intended to reduce bullying. Bullying involves a cycle of behavior for both the bully and the victim, said school psychologist Lisa Ellington.
“What we often find with bullying victims is a lack of social skills,” Ellington said.
If a student is socially clumsy, or for some reason does not “fit in,” that can make them a ready target for bullying.
Part of breaking the cycle is helping the victim learn better ways to adapt, Ellington said.
“The victim and the bully both need to learn appropriate boundaries,” she said. “The long-term consequences for both the bully and the victim aren’t pretty.”
Hayes Elementary School has been designated a model school for “Great Expectations,” a character education program emphasizing self-esteem and development of respect, courtesy, integrity and compassion.
Expectations for students include such principles as “we will not laugh at or make fun of a person’s mistakes nor use sarcasm or put-downs.”
Additionally, each school has a safe school plan, developed by the individual school’s committee.
Any report of bullying is investigated by the school and appropriate disciplinary action is taken.
Oklahoma Safe Call, an online and telephone hotline service sponsored by Oklahoma Department of Education, allows anyone who hears anything of a threatening or harmful nature, whether said to them or said to someone else, to anonymously report the incident.
A typed copy of the message is sent to the school for investigation. Callers even can call back after three school days and find out the status of their report.
The phone number for Oklahoma Safe Call is (877) 723-3225, ext. 651.
At Oklahoma Bible Academy, a private Enid school for middle and high school students, Headmaster Paul McDonald said students are well aware no bullying will be tolerated.
“We have no-tolerance policy on bullying here,” McDonald said. “I want this place to be a place students can try things and take risks without fear of being mocked.”
McDonald believes students of the Christian private school have enough positive things going on in their lives that they are less inclined to bully one another.
In talking with educators at public schools, it seems to be a bigger issue in public schools than at OBA, McDonald said.
McDonald’s thoughts on the problem of bullying cutting across all areas of life — school and home — echo Shepard’s.
“There are a lot of kids in this town, sad to say, who don’t have adults who are there for them,” McDonald said.