TWIN FALLS • Children who are bullied live in fear of coming to school each day. They suffer in silence afraid it will get worse if they say something or because they believe adults won’t do anything about it. According to the American Academy of Child and Adult Psychiatry, “some victims of bullying have even attempted suicide rather than continue to endure such harassment and punishment.”
Students don’t need to live in fear anymore at Robert Stuart Middle School. When a student at Robert Stuart is bullied, he or she can fill out a form and drop it into the school’s “bully bucket.” The school’s resource officer and administrators review the forms and confront the school’s bullies face to face.
“I had gone to some training in reference to the topic of bullying,” said Steven Gassert, the school’s resource officer who came up with the idea to have a bully bucket. “They said eight out of 10 kids don’t report bullying because they feel like adults wouldn’t do anything about it. It kind of got me thinking about giving students an outlet to report bullying.”
Students don’t have to feel like tattletales or fear others might know they filed a report because they are submitted anonymously.
The bully bucket, located inside the school library, has already made a difference since it was installed in late February, say students and school staff.
Gassert collects the forms at least once a day, sometimes more, and said since February there have been 125 reports of bullying at the school. Some of the most common forms of reported bullying are name calling, being disrespectful and pushing students into lockers.
A lot of this surrounds “girl drama” at the school, said principal Kasey Teske.
“I still don’t understand girl drama,”he said, noting that some girls are just downright mean to their peers.
Evelyn Mendoza, 13, said she’s been bullied both at Robert Stuart and other schools. One student called her “stupid” and other names.
“I don’t like to be called stupid,” she said, “because I’m not.”
Since the bucket was installed, however, she hasn’t witnessed as much bullying at the school as she once did.
Maribel Moreno, 11, said she appreciates the anonymity of the forms dropped into the bucket. Students don’t give their names, so they don’t have to feel pinpointed as a snitch.
On the forms, students include the date, time and location of the incident, as well as the name of the person who bullied them, names of witnesses and how they were bullied. If they witness bullying, they may also fill out a form for a friend or peer.
Teske said he doesn’t want any student to feel anxious about coming to class. He’d prefer to have face-to-face meetings with students who don’t get along, he said, but if that doesn’t work try the bully bucket.
Don’t fear, Gassert said. He and school administrators do review the forms.
“Students’ voices will be heard,” he said.
Mendoza said she thinks other area schools, even elementary schools where she also has witnessed bullying, should consider implementing bully buckets because it’s a way for students to express their fears and anxiety without being spotlighted. It also helps build trust that adults do hear their complaints and will do something about them.
“Ithink students would really appreciate this,” she said. “There’s a lot of bullying that happens at elementary schools.”
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.