Here we go! Pencils are sharpened (do they even have to do that anymore?), pages in notebooks stand ready for notes and scribbles and teachers have spent hours upon hours readying their classrooms for another batch of students to walk through the doors.
Sheridan County School Districts 1 and 3 (Big Horn, Tongue River and Clearmont) went back to class earlier this week. Sheridan County School District 2 students will start roaming the hallways again next week.
I hope you all pay extra careful attention as you pass through school zones and please remember the rules of the road when you see a school bus stop to unload passengers.
In addition to safety on the roads, I wanted to take a second to touch on bullying.
While I don’t have children, many of my friends do. Some of their children dread heading back to school. No, it’s not because they hate learning. Quite the opposite. For some, though, the start of a new school year means a return to being bullied and feeling like they don’t belong.
I hope we all take a second to reflect on that. It’s disheartening to think that any child would fear or dread going to school.
As Tuesday wrapped up the primary election season in Wyoming, I couldn’t help but think about the example some set for the younger among us. If we can’t even treat each other — as adults — with respect online, how do we expect children to do so? I hear complaints all the time that kids these days have no respect, no manners. I wonder, sometimes, where they learned it. Then I head to social media and it’s easy to connect the dots.
StopBullying.gov outlines warning signs a child is being cyberbullied or is cyberbullying others. They are:
• noticeable increases/decreases in device use
• emotional responses to what is happening on their device
• hiding screens or devices when others are near
• social media accounts are shut down or new ones appear
• avoidance of social situations, even ones that were enjoyed in the past
• withdrawal or depression, loss of interest in people and activities
So what do you do when cyberbullying happens?
Advice here varies. But here’s a compilation of what I’d consider the best steps forward for any parent who has a child being cyberbullied:
• Make sure your child feels safe. Listen and talk with them about what’s happening.
• Collect evidence. Clear proof of what is occurring will be important in reporting the incident (or incidences) to the school and/or law enforcement.
• Don’t respond. Don’t retaliate.
As another school year full of excitement and activity begins, I hope we can all set positive examples for civil online (and face-to-face) interactions for the youth in our community.