St. Vincent dePaul Takes on Bullying Prevention

By Scott Sarvay
By Megan Trent

October 8, 2010 Updated Oct 8, 2010 at 9:32 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Local students are taking aim at what they call a dangerous problem on the rise. Students at Saint Vincent dePaul Catholic School joined community and business leaders today in taking a stand against bullying.

It was a sea of blue as faculty and students all wore matching "Catch the Spirit" t-shirts. That's the name of the school's new bullying prevention program that hopes to help families deal with bullying in schools.

State Senator Tom Wyss, who helped pass anti-bullying legislation in Indiana five years ago, spoke at the rally. That law states that all Indiana schools must have a bullying prevention program in place, much like the one being introduced at St. Vincent. He says he's working on new legislation that will bring other schools on board when it comes to fighting bullying in schools.

Senator Wyss says, "If we can start in and teach them at a young age to do this, that's what's going to be important. And make sure that students can go to school and be safe, and parents and grandparents, like myself, can be sure that our kids are safe in the schools."

Students also acted out bullying skits at the rally, which included singing, dancing, and acting.

Saint Vincent Social Worker Jodi Helmer says the students are committed to following the program's four Community in Christ Responsibilities. Helmer says students have pledged, "We will not bully others. We will help those who are being bullied. We will not leave each other out. And we will tell an adult if we see bullying going on."

The school's principal, Sandra Guffey, says it's important to teach students to have open lines of communication with parents and other adults so that they are able to come to others for help in a bullying situation.

If there is an occurrence of bullying at the school she says the first bullying offense warrants a verbal warning and education on bullying. The second time students perform community service during recess. After that the punishments get more severe, but Guffey stresses the importance of prevention first through programs like "Catch the Spirit."

Students also made a giant banner thanking the sponsor of their bullying prevention program, DuPont Hospital.

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