Power of One program aims to stop bullies

FRESNO, Calif.

For many kids recess is usually the best part of the school day. These happy, carefree Moments can quickly take a downturn when a bully gets involved.

Aneitra Davis, a teacher at Reagan Elementary in Clovis says the effects are immediate.

"Because it shuts them down somewhat. When they get discouraged out in the yard -- when they come back in the classroom -- they're a little intimidated, or withdrawn," said Reagan Elementary Teacher Aneitra Davis.

The school is teaching its students that even when they're not directly involved; every one of them plays an important role in stopping the bullying. It's called the "Power Of One."

"Some of them like it as a leader role. So I actually get to be the leader and say stop that, that is not right and at the same time they can let somebody know without tattling on somebody," said Vice-Principal Kacey Gibson, Reagan Elementary.

The program was incorporated last fall and introduced the role of the bystander -- a kid or kids who witness an act of bullying or harassment.

"The bystander is someone who can either go get the teacher or stand around and watch -- or the bystander could be someone who cheers the bully on," said student Jennafer Halbrook.

As part of the program, 4th grader Jennafer Halbrook and other members of the student group "T-Wolf Voice" – a role-play for students that shows them how to handle bully situations.

In the end-- the bystander leaves to get help -- something kids don't often do for fear of being labeled a snitch.

"I think they are scared of the bully and they don't want to be the target," said student Kaitlyn McFarlane.

Vice-Principal Kacey Gibson says the program is empowering kids to stand up for themselves and for others. "We've seen more traffic coming into the office, and that's not necessarily because there is more bullying going on, it's more that people they are starting to feel they can communicate with us what's going on, letting us know, feel comfortable and want to change things."

Every kid on campus has signed this pledge to do their part to stop the bullying. Students say knowing they're not alone -- that someone else is looking out for them, makes them feel safer.

"We used to have a lot more problems and now people are starting to learn," said student Lauren Duff.

"I know that my friends are there to help me and go tell the teacher or tell the bully that it's wrong," said student Elder Garcia.

6th grader Elder Garcia even turned the Power Of One into his campaign platform when he ran for student body president, and won. "I said if you're ever scared like if somebody is bullying you, come up to me and I'll try to solve it."

Reagan Elementary is also adding peer mediation. If kids don't feel comfortable going to a teacher, they can talk to another student.

This story is just one of several featured in a new Children First special highlighting bullying. You can watch the program this Sunday, April 3rd at 6:30 p.m., right after Action News at Six.

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