When it comes to tackling bullying in school, waving signs may not seem like much. But, as the Connect and Respect Week at Kaiser High School has shown, it really can make a difference in schools. Every morning during the week of December 11-15, leadership students lined up and waved signs and banners with positive messages against bullying. The purpose? To advocate for awareness about bullying and its effects, and to promote a positive school environment.
According to the National PTA, research shows that “one of the most effective ways to prevent bullying behavior is to create a positive school climate.” The more welcoming a school environment is, the more likely students will report incidents to counselors and stop bullying behavior. Thus, Connect and Respect Week is not only dedicated to raising awareness about bullying, but to show students who feel alone that they are safe and accepted at Kaiser.
Connect and Respect Week was first proposed five years ago and soon became a complex-wide anti-bullying initiative. According to head counselor Branden Kawazoe, the counselors are the driving force behind each school’s anti-bullying campaign. “It’s evolved over the years, but it’s something that really ties Kaiser together,” Kawazoe said. This week is especially important, he said, because “bullying has become a national epidemic: it’s a problem nationwide, and the more awareness we can bring to the situation, the greater the impact in stopping it.”
Leadership classes lined the front of the campus to sign wave and show their support. The signs students held displayed catch phrases such as “Don’t be a bully, be a buddy” and “Stop and think.” “I think that Connect and Respect week makes us more aware of the bullying that could happen. Because any bullying that does happen is behind the scenes, or under the wraps, we don’t see it a lot,” sophomore leadership student Holly Sinclair said.
According to the Stop Bullying organization, about 49% of children in grades 4–12 reported being bullied by other students at school at least once during the past month, while 30.8% reported bullying others during that time. Bullying is something that almost all schools address, and that first starts by creating a positive school climate. When Connect and Respect Week rolls around next year, know that Kaiser High School is tackling bullying, one sign at a time.