AHS clubs, parents still addressing bullying in schools

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, April 13, 2011

There are small posters lining the halls of Austin High School. Many of them were put up a few weeks ago with a simple message: “Do you realize what you say, when you say something is gay? Knock it off!”

The posters, put up by the Diversity Club, AHS’s gay/straight alliance group, are one of several indications bullying of any sort will no longer be tolerated in Austin Public Schools.

“We just wanted to just continue giving the message about bullying,” said Kirsten Lindbloom, CHAI coordinator. “We need to be careful and we need to think about things before we say them.”

An anti-bullying campaign is brewing with increasing parent and school support. More speakers are coming to schools to talk about bullying.

A parent group, started by Danielle Borgerson-Nesvold, is growing and hoping to start a community-wide campaign targeting bullies who take their antics off school property.

Even the Austin Police Department is getting in on the initiative, with officers organizing a group of high schoolers to work with elementary school students, giving presentations and teaching about ways to stop bullying.

“I’m very excited,” said Mark Walski, AHS liaison officer. “Hearing adults tell you what’s wrong and right is a lot different than when peers are doing it.”

The group will be put together at the end of the school year, as Walski said there wasn’t enough time to properly train high school students to give lectures and perform skits on bullying in time for this school year. Officers will have the summer to train the high schoolers, who could start volunteering at elementary schools in the fall.

Walski said while dealing with bullying is something he has to do if it becomes a criminal matter, cases of bullying hadn’t noticeably increased. He chalks up the current anti-bullying efforts to an increased awareness in parents and staff.

“I’ve been very impressed at how (AHS) has dealt with bullying,” Walski said.