Community awareness night addresses bullying

Lewis County C-1 School District acknowledged that bullying is happening in their schools. In order to combat the problem, the district hosted a community awareness night Wednesday at Highland High School to help identify and address parents' concerns.

One parent attested to the fact that bullying can become a cycle. Her daughter has been the victim of bullying for years and has become a bully herself in order to defend herself.

"I used to have a sweet innocent little girl who brought home A's and B's and now two years later I'm finding out she brings home D's and F's and now she's the bully," Gwen Renfroe said.

Her daughter is an 11th grade student at Highland High School and has been dealing with bullies since their family moved to the area.

"There are so many kids in our small community unfortunately that are being bullied," Amy Lay, who has an 8-year-old daughter in the Lewis County School District, said.

Parents with children of all ages spoke up with questions and concerns about how school officials are handling bullying and what they can do as parents. Speakers presented information on how to identify victims and bullies, as well as dealing with the effects of continued bullying.

"I think the school is more aware of the problems and I think that's what's important. It's comforting for me and my husband to know that there are other parents who have concerns and are definitely making sure that those concerns are voiced," Lay said.

Lay was not the only parent who was releived to hear that bullying was being addressed.

The district's D.A.R.E. officer began teaching bullying as part of the D.A.R.E. program about three years ago. He was surprised to learn about students' concerns about bullying.

"It's hard for them to report bullying," Jerrod Eisenberg, the district's D.A.R.E. officer said. "One, because they don't want to become the target of the bully and two, sometimes they feel like their parents don't really listen and other adults don't really listen to them fully. They need to report this, it starts with them."

Lewis County School District administration has taken action to discourage bullying in schools. Training for students and staff has been increased and students recently designed posters to make students "Think Twice" before being unkind to someone. If parents still have concerns about how situations are being handled, there are other options available.

"They can contact us at the Lewis County Sheriff's office any time they have a concern about their child's well being," Eisenberg said.