Florence school district cracks down on bullying

FLORENCE, SOUTH CAROLINA (WMBF) Florence School District One is pumping more than $20,000 into a new anti-bullying initiative.

While that new initiative doesn't begin until next school year, one school is already making changes.

Wilson High School is ahead of that initiative. After six months of planning, several faculty members hosted the school's new anti-bullying campaign called Challenge Day.

"It's an opportunity for everyone to get to know everybody in the whole school," said Derek Martin.

Derek Martin is just one of dozens of students at Wilson High School who was selected to participate in Challenge Day.

It's a non-profit, anti-bullying campaign out of California, school administrators brought to Wilson in an effort to stop bullying at the school.

"It's not a big issue, but bullying does exist at Wilson. We're trying to get ahead of the game so that we can eliminate it all together," said Willie Shaw, Director of Student Services.

Some ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders gathered in the gym for activities geared at helping to break the walls of cliques and expose the whys and how's of bullying.

"They're just repeating what was done to them. So when they really get to see… wow… I'm hurting people, it's because I'm hurt, and really talk about what's going on inside of them …they're hurt discharges," said Randy Fortes, Challenge Day Leaders.

Through various exercises, Challenge Day leaders encouraged students to speak out against bullying and embrace other people's differences.

Anti-Bullying programs like Challenge Day will come to the forefront in every school in Florence School District One next year, as the district cracks down on bullying.

"A lot of our children are being bullied and a lot of them are taking it in silence and you never know when they just can't take it anymore," said Pat Gibson Hye-Moore, Florence School District One Board of Trustee.

Florence One Board Trustee Pat Gibson Hye-Moore was one of the board members who suggested bringing an anti-bullying campaign into the district.

The district selected a program called Rachel's Challenge, which will help lay down some guidelines for schools to incorporate into their individual programs next year.

"Every school through District One is going to have a program we are going to try and start a club for the students. As well as the teachers and get everyone on track," she said.

And it's not just the students these campaigns are trying to reach.

"Adults bully as well. Adults bully other adults bully children," said Shaw.

Copyright 2014 WMBF News. All rights reserved.