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No place for bullies at OMS, OHS



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OHS seniors Kayli Kammerer (left) and Sara Ruch are helping to organize and promote the Bully Busters program. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
January 25, 2012 - Nobody likes a bully, especially Oxford High School seniors Sara Ruch and Kayli Kammerer.

That's why these two young ladies chose to help organize and promote the Bully Busters program at their school and Oxford Middle School.

"I don't think bullying is acceptable at any level," Ruch said.

Ruch and Kammerer are using their participation in the Bully Busters program as their public relations project for the high school's DECA Club, which consists of students studying marketing, management and entrepreneurship.

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Right now, the Bully Busters program consists of 58 OHS students who visit middle school classrooms for about 35 minutes every other Wednesday.

"Each Bully Buster has a classroom that they go to so they can teach the kids what to do when you see bullying, how to stop it and who you should tell," Ruch explained. "We have a different lesson plan every time we go there."

Ruch said they're focusing most of their efforts on the OMS to start with so "we can stop bullying before it gets worse in high school.

As part of the program, Ruch and Kammerer also helped conduct an anti-bullying week at OHS and OMS during which they helped spread awareness by selling t-shirts and wristbands bearing anti-bullying messages.

When asked what the bullying situation is like in Oxford Schools, Ruch replied, "I think it could be a lot worse, but it could also be a lot better. I have seen a lot of bullying here, but I've heard about much worse things at other schools."

"We're trying to put a stop to it before our school gets to that level," she noted.

Based on her discussions with middle school students, Ruch indicated most of the bullying there takes place in the hallways.

"It's usually like pushing or name-calling or knocking someone's books out of their hands," she explained. "It's mostly boys bullying girls they said. Girls being called names by boys."

Over at OHS, Ruch indicated the bullying isn't so much physical as it involves rumors, tearing others down emotionally, and conflicts over romantic relationships.

"There's also a big cyberbullying issue that we're trying to deal with," she said. "There's a lot of bullying going on through Facebook and Twitter."

Cyberbullying is when the internet, cell phones and other technological communication devices are used to send or post information or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person.

Cyberbulling can include harassment, threats, sexual remarks, name-calling, ridicule, spreading rumors or false information, disclosing personal information and ganging up on people.

Since its inception late last year, the Bully Busters program is definitely having a positive impact.

Ruch's heard from OMS students that the amount of bullying there has "significantly decreased."

"The (school's main) office said they haven't had as many issues with certain people as they did before. It's really toned down," she said.

Over at OHS, Ruch said the administration "used to have several reports (of bullying) in one week."

"Since semester two began, we've only had two bullying reports," she said. "I think there's improvement at both schools."

Ruch noted she's never been bullied or acted as a bully, but she's been a "bystander" in many bullying situations.

"I saw it happening and now that I'm older, I wish I would have done more about it," she said. "Now, I am."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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