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Educators Discuss Ways To Curb Bullying At School

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — School leaders say there is only one approach to bullying: zero tolerance. They say we can no longer accept bullying as a cultural norm, but as a precursor to violence. Educators met Thursday to discuss ways to curb the problem.

Eighth-grader Grace Haaland is a peer mediator at McDougle Middle School in Carborro. Her goal is to help difuse bullying situations.

"There's a lot of rumors and sometimes there are fights," she said. "If people can't feel secure coming to school then they can't learn."

"They shouldn't feel intimidated by people just because of what they wear, their race or ethnicity and all of that stuff," student mediator Jason Stover said.

Hundreds of North Carolina educators are meeting this week to talk about ways to prevent bullying. Their approach includes educating kids about the problem and getting them involved in the solution.

"Everything is taken seriously. When we hear about it, when teachers hear about it, when administrators hear about it, when counselors hear about it, we do something about it and the kids know that, and I think that's made a real difference," said Kathleen Kauffmann, guidance counselor at McDougle Middle School.

Teachers said their experiences with bullying as children make them more compassionate with students who are going through the same thing.

"I was afraid to death when I got on that bus every morning. I hated to see the bus coming, because I knew they were going to have seats and wouldn't let me sit down," guidance counselor James Greene said.

Experts said victims of bullying may live with the scars well into adulthood, and not even realize what an impact it has had on their lives. They said most bullying is verbal, but it can escalate into violence if the bully or the victim brings a weapon to school.


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