The Custer School District had an all-day staff training last Friday over best practices for preventing, intervening in and responding to bullying behavior.
Superintendent Mark Naugle said the reason for this training is the need to deal with a difficult issue that has been happening in schools for a long time.
Dennis Lewis led the staff training in addition to seminars in both Custer and Hermosa that were open to parents.
Lewis has over 38 years of experience in working to provide safe schools and communities, including 17 years as director of a school police department for a large Midwestern school district.
He has held numerous offices in the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officers (NASSLEO) and is the past president of that organization.
“Bullying is not a unique problem. All kids at some point engage in it or are a victim of it. There are records of the term going back to 1538,” Lewis said.
The objectives of the training are to teach staff and parents how to understand how bullying impacts learning and school climate, how to recognize when bullying is occurring, knowing prevention and response strategies, understanding cyber-bullying, teaching parents how to help their children and to know the legal obligations.
Lewis also talked to staff about the number one strategy he sees for reducing bullying in schools, which is for teachers to really connect with students.
“Schools and parents working hand-in-hand can lower the amount of bullying we see happening, and when staff are able to make that meaningful connection with students, we see them become more comfortable, which makes them feel protected from bullying,” said Lewis.
Naugle said it was not just teaching staff who attending the training, but all those employed by Custer School District.
Lewis also made it clear that no one can stop bullying completely and that communities should give school officials reasonable standards.
“It’s not always happening under direct supervision. Kids who are truly bullies and show that repetitive and intentional behavior usually get smarter after being caught and that is just the reality,” said Lewis.
That is why he trains teachers and parents to recognize the signs of bullying and how to determine bullying behavior.
These trainings are intended to reduce bullying in schools, which results in an improved school environment that is friendly and welcoming to all students, and allows them to spend their days learning, building friendships and dreaming about their futures.