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Bullies beware: TUSD is out to stop you
Cyber bullying, saying negative things about people on the computer through social networking sites, e-mails or text messaging, is a new type of bullying that school officials have seen in recent years. - photo by Photo Contributed
Spring is the time of year for flowers to bloom and Mother Nature to come out of hibernation, but it is also the time when bullying incidents spring up the most.
To stop the bullying before it starts, the Turlock Unified School District will start their “Bully Free at TUSD” program campaigns this January or February, said Gil Ogden, TUSD director of student services.
“We want the students to know that bullying is not OK and it is not socially acceptable,” Ogden said. “Bullying is not cool.”
The “Bully Free at TUSD” program started a couple of years ago, but in the past, the campaigns have been mainly pushed during the fall, he said. During these campaigns, TUSD administrators present the anti-bullying program at all  elementary schools, while the junior highs are bombarded with presentations by the TUSD bullying consultant, and high school organizations and clubs are targeted for anti-bullying sessions.
The anti-bullying crew has yet to decide what approach they will take this spring but they are thinking about doing a district campaign or separate campaigns for each individual school, Ogden said.
With the years of experience in anti-bullying now, TUSD has seen the different types of bullying within Turlock schools and at what age the bullying really begins.
The main types of bullying in Turlock schools are verbal and social, Ogden said. Verbal bullying involves name calling, while social bullying includes excluding certain students from different groups. Social bullying is most commonly seen at the high school level.
A new type of bullying is cyber bullying, which is not bad in Turlock yet, Ogden said. Cyber bullying is saying negative things about people on the computer through social networking sites, e-mails or text messaging.
Bullying typically starts in fourth grade with peaks of bullying incidents in junior high, Ogden said. The bullying seems to go down in high school.  
Since the launch of the “Bully Free at TUSD” program, there has been a decrease in bullying incidents, he said. There has even been a decrease in disciplinary actions, such as suspensions.
“We want students to stand up and say ‘hey, that’s not right,’” Ogden said. “It just takes one person to say that isn’t right.”
When starting the program, TUSD hired the No Bully consultant company based out of San Francisco to help train all staff members about anti-bullying.
The most critical point in bullying is identifying the situation to prevent it from continuing, Ogden said. Training TUSD staff helped them know the signs and symptoms of bullying.
“We want to focus on stopping it right away,” Ogden said.
TUSD is hoping the campaigns in the spring will help remind students that bullying is not socially acceptable, he said. Their main campaign strategy this spring will be to target all students along with emphasizing the social aspect of bullying.
“We want to let students know where they can get help when they are being bullied,” Ogden said. “We also want to turn the students around that are doing the bullying.”
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.