“Don’t be a bully: walk tall, respect for all!” shouted students at Oquirrh Elementary as they welcomed local and regional Shoe Carnival management to a schoolwide assembly in September. The company wants to embolden students to rally around the school’s anti-bullying campaign and learn that bullying can and should stop with them.
“Shoe Carnival came to us and asked if there was a way they could support an anti-bullying program. This is our second year doing it,” said David Butler, Oquirrh Elementary climate and culture director. “We are teaching students three steps to respond to disrespect and bullying: stop, walk away, and get help from an adult now.”
In order to encourage the students to walk tall, Shoe Carnival provided anti-bullying T-shirts for all of the students and teachers. Additionally, they donate four $25 Shoe Carnival gift cards each month to use as prizes for students who have shown good behavior, friendliness or acts of kindness.
“Bullying is becoming very prevalent in elementary schools and can have far-reaching effects in kids’ lives and in the community,” Shoe Carnival Regional Manager Tom Wells said. “Shoe Carnival wants to reward kids who are doing the right thing and standing up against bullying.”
The students, who signed a pledge to walk tall and respect all, are encouraged to wear their T-shirts every Friday to reinforce their commitment against bullying. The efforts are paying off as faculty and administration have noticed a dramatic decrease in negative conduct.
During the 2012-2013 school year, there were more than 500 incidents of Think Time, which is a consequence for students with disruptive classroom behavior. In one year, the number dropped to a little over 200 incidents. Along with this 56 percent decrease in Think Time, the school has also seen a 37 percent decrease in office referrals for adverse behavior.
“We want that to go even lower,” Butler said.
As part of the initiative, Butler is teaching the kids how to recognize bullying.
“Bullying is one-sided; it’s on purpose; it’s repeated and it’s hurtful,” he said. “Sometimes, when kids come down to my office, they don’t quite understand what bullying is.”
During the assembly, a group of students went onstage to rap about bullying.
“Stop, walk away or listen. Oquirrh’s back with a brand-new commitment. If someone isn’t treating you nicely, you just walk away politely,” sang D-Man Butler and the Mountain Man Rappers. “Talk to your teachers, they know what to do. Bullying stops with you!”