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Coalition Partners with Curtis Corner Middle School to Combat Bullying

CCMS Celebrates Pink Shirt Day As Part of School- Wide Prevention Effort

An age-old problem, bullying behavior peaks in middle school. But South Kingstown’s Curtis Corner Middle School staff and students are taking it head on. Almost a year into a schoolwide bullying prevention initiative, CCMS will be celebrating Pink Shirt Day on Wednesday, February 29th. Students and educators will be wearing pink, including hot pink plastic bracelets with their self-chosen slogan “Pink’s great! Don’t Hate!” Prizes will be awarded for the best pink outfits and for the most creative portrayal of the Pink Shirt Day message. Special lessons will focus on an anti-bullying theme.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the way our students have rallied around this issue,” said CCMS Principal Patricia Aull. “I expect February 29 will be a day to celebrate.”

“Pink Shirt Day is a perfect avenue to address bullying issues and acceptance,” agreed CCMS Assistant Principal Jared Vance. “The message of Pink Shirt Day is that every student must feel safe in every environment at the school. I’m confident that’s just what will happen.”

“Pink Shirt Day is a day to build awareness,” said Ruby Wildes, a teacher and member of the school’s Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee “I see CCMS’s long term responsibility to teach the entire school community – students, educators, victims, ‘bystanders’, and the bullies, too – skills they can actually use to end the terrible cycle,” she added.

A tradition born in a Nova Scotia high school

Pink Shirt Day began in 2007. After witnessing a 9th grader being bullied for wearing a pink polo shirt in their Nova Scotia high school, seniors David Shepherd and Travis Price organized a protest. They bought 50 pink shirts at a local discount store and contacted classmates that night to wear pink to school the next day.

In the morning, Shepherd and Price were standing in the school’s foyer handing out the shirts, when the bullied boy walked in. His face spoke volumes.

“Definitely, it looked like a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders,” Price recalled. More importantly, the bullying stopped at the school.

“If you can get more people against them [the bullies] … to show that we’re not going to put up with it and support each other, then they’re not as big as a group as they think are,” added Shepherd.

News of the incident sparked a movement throughout Canada and around the globe now known as Pink Shirt Day.

Day is part of a long-term effort, partnership

Celebrating Pink Shirt Day is just one of the strategies CCMS is using to combat bullying, a major public health problem among youth. Last year, CCMS began partnering with the Washington County Coalition for Children to implement the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, a school-wide intervention and prevention program backed by 30 years of research.

“Bullying can undermine a child’s self confidence, damage their school years, and scar them for life,” said Susan Orban, Coordinator of the Washington County Coalition for Children. “For generations, no one knew what to do about it. Now we do, and we’re proud to be partnering with CCMS in their bullying prevention efforts.” Orban noted,

Orban reports that CCMS is the first school in Rhode Island to implement the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program [http://www.olweus.org/public/index.page], one of only 11 Blue Ribbon Prevention Programs identified by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration), from the federal government.

She said the Olweus program, which is designed to change the school culture, comprises three components:

  1. School-wide components include assessing the nature and prevalence of bullying at the school, establishing a Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee, and increased supervision of students.
  2. Classroom components include establishing and enforcing class rules against bullying and holding regular discussions with students.
  3. Individual components include interventions with children identified as bullies and victims, and discussions with parents of involved students.

As part of our bullying prevention efforts, Orban said the Coalition has also published a “bullying prevention newsletter” designed for parents. Click here to download newsletter.