Nobody Eats Alone: ​​School Harassment and Social Isolation Fought in Bibb County

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Melissa Adkins remembered the name decried as her classmates called her in the elementary schools she attended in Macon.

"People called me" glasses upside down "because my glasses looked literally upside down," said Adkins.

The insult stung. She was humiliated

"When you talk about social isolation, I was really that kid," she said.

Now, decades later, she laughed instead of crying.

"They looked sort of like glasses backwards," said Adkins, adding that, in retrospect, she felt it differentiated her from her peers. "This is the moment when you retrieve the current. That's what I call growth. I did not have the tools we are trying to give you now.

Adkins works as Community Relations Coordinator for the Peach State Health Plan. She shared her story with dozens of college students during a recent afternoon at St. Peter Claver Catholic School. The occasion was National Day "Nobody eats alone", an initiative created by Beyond Differences, a non-profit organization.

The Peach State Health Plan partners with the non-profit association every year to promote social inclusion in Georgia's schools.

"We want them to understand (intimidation) is social. It's physical. It's emotional, "said Adkins. "So we try to talk to them. Just a conversation. We do not want it to be so heavy that they do not understand what we are telling them. "

Beyond the differences was created in honor of Lili Rachel Smith, suffering from Apert syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by the melting of skull bones too early, which affects the shape of the head and face. Smith suffered social isolation because of his appearance. According to the Beyond Differences website, she died unexpectedly at 15 years of medical complications.

Bullying is a problem encountered in public and private schools, although private schools are not required to report data on bullying to the state.

Every school day, 2% of Georgia's middle and high school students are bullied or threatened. About 4% of third, fourth and fifth year students reported having classmates. chosen on them every day, according to the 2016-17 state report Student Health Survey 2.0.

In Bibb County, there were at least 232 bullying-related disciplinary incidents last year, according to information collected by the Georgia Ministry of Education.

Weaver, Howard and Rutland colleges each reported more than 20 incidents, the largest number of all other Bibb institutions. The punishment imposed on the respondent may range from suspension at school to suspension from school, detention, parent conferences, loss of privilege or assignment to a district alternative school. .

Bibb schools are working to combat bullying with a number of efforts, including the creation of a bullying hotline at 478-779-3711 and an online platform called Let's talk!

Some Bibb schools also have "intimidation boxes" for confidential notes. Howard Middle students can scan a "QR code" – a smartphone-readable barcode – with their mobile phone to ask to speak to a counselor.

The school system also hosts an annual anti-bullying symposium in October "to give parents and the community the opportunity to hear what we are doing and solicit their ideas / recommendations," said Beverly Stewart. Director of Student Support Services for the District.

Another way for Bibb schools to address bullying is to adopt a positive behavioral intervention and behavioral support approach that focuses on positive incentives. PBIS "teaches students the appropriate behavior," Stephanie Hartley, spokeswoman for Bibb Schools, said in an email to the Telegraph.

An initiative called "The chef in me, "Fights Harassment and Promotes Character Formation." It was implemented in 21 Bibb schools and is based on Stephen Covey's Personal Improvement Book, published in 1989 and entitled "The Habits of an Extremely effective".

Information from Telegraph's archive was used in this report.