|The new initiative is designed specifically for Franklin County|
Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston:
Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton, along with several of his deputies and Cabbie the Coyote, visited Ferrum Elementary students Wednesday to launch a new anti-bullying program.
Friday, September 13, 2013
By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office and Franklin County public schools have partnered with Radford University to launch a new initiative to stop bullying in the community and schools.
The Communities Against Bullying (CAB) program kicked off at Ferrum Elementary Wednesday with a visit from Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton and several deputies from the sheriff's office.
"The sheriff had indicated that one of the initiatives he wanted to be involved in was bullying in Franklin County schools," said Capt. Mark Torbert, organizer of the program. "So we reached out to Joseph Jones, a former Radford University professor, who is a nationally known expert on bullying and who has written several books on bullying."
Torbert said the sheriff's office wanted a program that was not just a "stand-alone" unit, but one that would be "tailor-fit" for Franklin County.
"Bullying is unique to every community," said Torbert. "Bullies bully for different reasons, depending on the area. We wanted a program that would be unique to our area."
Dr. Jennifer Jones, a professor at Radford University who specializes in elementary education, was contacted to help with the project.
"Dr. Jones has also worked in Franklin County in the past, so she is familiar with the issues in Franklin County," Torbert said.
CAB includes an age appropriate book that was written specifically for the sheriff's office. Students listened as Overton read the book, which explains exactly what a bully is and what students need to do if they are being bullied.
"We have been talking a lot about bullying at Ferrum Elementary," said Principal Jennifer Talley. "I think the assembly went very well. It is a tremendous support for us to have the sheriff's office on board, and it's great for the kids to see police officers and the sheriff involved in what they are doing in school."
After reading the book, Overton introduced Cabbie the Coyote, the program's mascot, to the students.
"The students really enjoyed the program and were excited to meet Cabbie," said Talley. "I think the part they enjoyed the most was when the sheriff gave them the charge of becoming deputies. He gave students the part of making our school a bully-free school."
As part of the program launch, Cabbie will be presenting each county elementary school library with a series of books dealing with bullying. The books were purchased through a grant awarded to Radford University.
"We will be using the books at least once a month in our classrooms," said Talley. "The lessons and activities targeting bullying are also tied into our SOL curriculum."
Teachers will be able to utilize the books as a part of the SOL curriculum, said Torbert.
"This type of partnership has never been done before," said Torbert, referring to a bullying program that is tailor-fit to a specific school district while also tying into the schools' academic curriculum.
"The program is still in its developmental stages," said Torbert, who added that a program for middle and high school students is also in the works.
"We are planning for middle school students to help us with poster contests and some marketing of the program," said Dr. Mark Church, superintendent of Franklin County schools. "We would also like to have our high school students do some community service activities, such as going into the elementary schools and reading to the younger kids from the CAB books. Elementary kids love high schoolers. They look up to them."
Church said CAB's basic concept for high school students would be for them to be able to utilize tools to help them build self-esteem and learn to combat bullying.
"What's unique about this program is that our sheriff and deputies will be having an actual presence in our schools," said Church. "Students will be learning at a young age not to fear police officers, but to trust them."
Torbert said the sheriff's office intends to make visits to each elementary school in the county by the end of the first semester.
Each student attending Wednesday's assembly received an anti-bullying bracelet from deputies.