‘Not in Our Town’: Bullying prevention at Watford City Intermediate School

Local News

A McKenzie County middle school is teaching students how to make good decisions — and prevent bullying.

Bullying is something that’s been around for a long time, but Watford City Intermediate School is working on changing that by teaching students what bullying actually is through the DARE program and Second Step.

“A lot of the time, it’s teasing, it’s tattling, things that don’t harm others. And then there’s mean moments,” said Sgt. Jeffrey Jensen, school resource officer.

You might not suspect it but those are things Sgt. Jensen dealt with for nine years.

“When kids just, kids can be mean, they just say things to each other that they don’t mean and it’s once, twice, it’s not a repetitive, over-and-over controlling of another student,” said Jensen.

But the issue goes beyond just face-to-face bullying.

In the 21st century, educators are facing the difficulty of handling cyber-bullying.

“Myself being a victim of bullying for nine years growing up, going through middle school and high school. Bullying started at the beginning of the school day and ended at either the end of the day at the end of sports or when you went home. There really was no bullying that happened, nothing followed you home, it all happened here at school. Unfortunately, today’s kids are seeing bullying 24/7,” said Jensen.

The bullying prevention programs teach students how to make good choices. They’re also learning coping mechanisms and how to socialize with other students.

Principal Brad Foss said developing these skills, especially at this age, is important.

“They’re learning, more so, the social dynamics of things. They’re learning who their friends are and who aren’t friends, and how to interact. In this day and age, kids don’t talk as much as they used to. They put their time behind screens and do that and so those skills have to be developed in different ways,” said Foss.

And it seems like the students realize the importance of knowing how to help someone who is being bullied

“Being a bystander, you’re not doing anything. You’re not helping the victim in any sort of way. So, if you do report it, or you do tell someone, that could change that kid’s life. They’re going to have a friend, they’re going to have confidence that nobody is going to pick on them,” said Vivian Villalobos, fifth-grader.

“Find a trusted adult or somebody that you can trust to just tell that somebody is being bullied. That could change their life,” said Kyle Best, fifth-grader.

“All these programs put together, change lives. And all we want for our students is for them to be very successful, and this is how we do it,” said Jensen.

Watford City Intermediate School started using the Second Step bullying prevention program at the start of this school year.

Foss said there have been 10 reports of bullying.

Jensen said the number of reports has decreased since the implementation of these two programs.

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