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October 08, 2003 1 min read
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Saying No to Bullying

Students who push their peers around at Franklin Middle School in upstate New York run the risk of being boxed back—with a “bully box,” that is.

The bullying-prevention tool, installed in a school hallway at the start of classes this year, is shaped like a stop sign with white letters warning, “Bullying stops here!”

Any students who witness or experience any form of bullying—from dirty looks to physical abuse—can fill out a complaint form and drop it in the locked box, which only school officials can open.

The names of students who submit complaints are never revealed, Principal Dennis A. Priore said last week.

The bully box was introduced by the 600-student school’s new assistant principal, Richard E. Jetter, who said that 38 complaints had been dropped in the box by Sept. 30. Most, he said, were dealt with the same day, with an administrator interviewing the student who submitted the complaint, the alleged bully, and the victims.

“It’s only the fourth week of school, and we’ve been alerted to things we might never have known about otherwise,” Mr. Jetter said.

The bully box is part of Franklin Middle School’s larger effort to deal with what is perceived to be a growing problem among students at the school near Buffalo.

Last month, two-thirds of the teachers at Franklin who responded to a school survey said they believed that bullying occurred regularly in the building, but fewer than one-third said school faculty and staff members dealt adequately with the problem, Mr. Priore said.

The bullying-prevention efforts at the school also go hand in hand with what Superintendent Steven A. Achramovitch says is a broader effort to improve school climate and focus on the health and well-being of the 9,200 students enrolled in the Kenmore Town of Tonawanda School District, located in a northern suburb of Buffalo.

“What we don’t know a lot about yet is how well this works,” the superintendent said.

Mr. Jetter said he believes that the bully box does work and that “students have come to rely on it.”

“They know they can stand up to bullying,” he said, “and they don’t have to take it anymore.”

—Darcia Harris Bowman


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