McGruff the Crime Dog Visits Whitson Elementary

Today Whitson Elementary hosted McGruff the Crime Dog and TPS Officer Larry Alexander in the school’s auditorium. The duo was invited to support Whitson’s theme for the day: “Up-standers Have Powers.” Up-standers, or people who stand up for someone else, are key to stopping bullying behavior. The students and staff were also encouraged to wear their favorite superhero outfit in celebration of the day’s event.

During two different presentations, one for students in grades K- 2 and another for students in grades 3-5, Alexander and McGruff talked with the students about bullying and how they can put an end to it. The older students also heard about some of the dangers of cyber bullying and how to prevent the behavior. The kids really enjoyed the assembly and left with tips on how they can stand up for each other and themselves.

The issue of bullying has gotten a lot of attention over the past few years, but educators are continually working to make schools safer for all students. According to :
- nearly half of all children in grades 4–12 reported being bullied by other students at school at least once during the past month,
-approximately 30% of young people admit to bullying others, and
- over 70% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools.
-However, when bystanders intervene, or become “up-standers,” bullying stops within ten seconds nearly 60% of the time.
Cyberbullying is a relatively new form of bullying and affects many adolescents. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying involves technology…namely social media. Whitson’s school counselor, Mallory Jacobs, offers the following advice to parents to prevent and stop cyberbullying:
1. Keep the computer in a common area of the home. Do not allow it in your children's bedrooms. Monitor their online usage.
2. Learn how various social networking websites work. Become familiar with Facebook, MySpace, Snapchat and Twitter. Ask your children if they will show you their profile pages.
3. Talk regularly and specifically with your children about online issues. Let them know they can come to you for help if anything is inappropriate, upsetting or dangerous.
4. Build trust with your children. Set time limits, explain your reasons for them and discuss rules for online safety and Internet use. Ask your children to contribute to establishing the rules; then they'll be more inclined to follow them.
5. Tell your children not to respond to any cyberbullying threats or comments online. However, do not delete any of the messages. Instead, print out all the messages, including the e-mail addresses or online screen names of the cyberbully. You will need the messages to verify and prove there is cyberbullying.
6. Don't overreact by blaming your children. If they are being bullied, be supportive and understanding. Find out how long the bullying has been going on and assure them that you'll work together to find a solution. Let your children know they are not to blame for being bullied.
7. Don't underreact by telling your children to "shrug it off" or just deal with the bullying. The emotional pain of being bullied is very real and can have long-lasting effects. Don't tease them about it or respond with a "kids will be kids" attitude.
8. Don't threaten to take away your children's computers if they come to you with a problem. This only forces kids to be more secretive.
9. Talk to your school's guidance counselors so they can keep an eye out for bullying during the school day.
10. If there are threats of physical violence or the bullying continues to escalate, get law enforcement involved.

Thank you, Whitson Elementary, for welcoming us today! “Up-standing” students with tons of positive energy ensure that Whitson is a safe and fun learning environment for all. Students who stick up for each other make Topeka Public Schools a great place to be!

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