Students discuss bullying prevention

Kalama Elementary School administrators and staff are placing a renewed emphasis on an age-old problem for schools of all sizes across the nation: bullying.

The school’s “theme” for the month of March has been “empathy,” and administrators say this focus has led to some great conversations and valuable teaching moments. Over the past few days, building leaders have assembled each individual grade level for discussions centered on the prevention of bullying. 

What does bullying look like? Why might someone do it? How can we work together to stop it?

These are just a few of the important questions students have been discussing, and over the coming weeks, teachers will be working with students in class to practice the “three-step stop” response to disrespectful behavior. 

The “three-step stop” response is a technique students can use to eliminate disrespectful behavior themselves, and to seek help from an adult if necessary. 

“These behaviors frequently occur in less structured settings, such as hallways, lunchrooms and playgrounds. Since these are situations where adults are often at the furthest distance to intervene, it becomes important for children to know how to tell someone to stop doing something they find bothersome,” explained Scott Fenter, the school’s interim principal. “We are teaching all students to say, ‘Stop, that is bullying (or bothering me).' Students being bullied tell them twice, but after a third irritating behavior, the student lets an adult know and we then intervene. Schools I have worked with that fully implement these techniques begin to see a clear decline in bully behaviors over several months.” 

Like any behavior that’s being learned, Fenter said these skills take time and repetition. The school is encouraging parents to talk with their children at home about the “three-step stop” technique.

“There is no simple switch to help kids immediately stop bullying behavior, but they need to know we take such behaviors very seriously and they should not be occurring at school,” said Fenter. “We must have a safe environment that is supportive and conducive to growth - academically, socially and emotionally.”

Parents that have questions about this topic are encouraged to reach out to Fenter at