At 9:45 a.m. on Oct. 30, 12 students at the Taft 7-12 school left the building during an Anti-Bullying Walkout.
Several students who were, “demanding action against bullying,” organized the peaceful protest, made anti-bullying signs and were met outside the building by several parents who showed up to support their children.
“We need to have a change,” said Tiffany Davis, whose daughter participated in the walkout. “Everyone as a whole in the community needs to step in; students, teachers, parents… and it doesn’t need to be confrontational, everyone can get their point across in a calm, responsible and respectful way.
“This is a tight knit community, there’s no reason that we can’t make this stop.”
For the students participating in the walkout, they were marked as absent and risked the consequence of detention, which is a standard procedure for all schools, according to Lincoln County School District (LCSD) officials.
“If students choose to walk out in a demonstration, LCSD staff will respect their choice,” LCSD Human Resources Director Tiana Tucker said. “Staff is prohibited from participating in such walkouts as they cannot make political statements during work time. However, if students protest on campus, we will continue to supervise them and reduce the educational impact of such a protest.”
Tucker added that students that leave campus in the event of a walkout will not be supervised by staff and will be reported to Student Resource Officers and local law enforcement.
School bullying is largely considered an epidemic nationwide. Bullying often falls under four broad categories including physical, verbal, relational (efforts to harm the reputation or relationships of the targeted youth) and damage to property. According to stopbullying.gov, between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school.
While LCSD may not condone the nature of the protest made by its students, they are in full support of the cause.
“It is an activity in support of a cause that all LCSD is creating awareness and support around,” LCSD officials stated Thursday. “We especially encourage any student, staff or community member to use tools such as SafeOregon.”
SafeOregon is a resource LCSD uses to give kids, parents, schools and their communities a way to report safety threats or potential acts of violence. To report a tip, parents or students can visit lincoln.k12.or.us/resources/family/safeoregon/.
Hoping to spread more awareness, many of the students have organized a second Anti-Bullying Walkout for Friday, Nov. 1 at 8:45 a.m.
“We are hoping to have more students and parents attending this walkout,” Davis said. “It will be much more organized and several student are planning to speak about bullying.”
For more information, statistics and prevention techniques regarding bullying, visit stopbullying.gov.