The halls of Lonoke Primary School were filled with blue on Monday as teachers and students participate in the National Blue Shirt day for Bullying Prevention Month.


The first Monday of October is Blue Shirt Day, World Day of Bullying Prevention which signifies the importance of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.


In the everyday fight for bullying prevention, Lonoke Primary school counselor Allyson Dodds said as part of the counseling program, she tries to speak with students about the importance of being kind to others.


“We talk about being a buddy instead of a bully,” Dodds said. ” However, the main focus is on being a “bucket filler.” I use books and other curriculum to bring this point home. It is the perfect way to reach primary age kids. It is also useful in everyday language. For example, the entire staff has caught on and often asks students, “Have you filled a bucket today?” This simply means have you done something kind for someone? We focus on filling as many buckets as we can instead of dipping buckets (negative actions).”


Dodds said she talks with students in both whole and small groups, and if there are students who need more one on one help with treating others nicely then she addresses it during the groups or individual sessions. Dodds also said she encourages students to watch for someone who may need a friend.


“I also encourage students to look out for students who may be lonely,” Dodds said “The perfect way to implement this is through “The Buddy Bench” located on the playgrounds. I have witnessed many students sit on it who may be lonely that day and have seen multiple students approach them and ask them to play.”


Bucket filling posters as well as other kindness and anti-bullying posters are on the school walls to encourage students daily, according to Dodds. She said the school also holds rallies that focus on “anti-bullying” type discussions, where they show videos or give real-life examples to help drive the point home..


“I feel as though our school does a great job of promoting positive behavior that we all want to see,”Dodds said. “Of course the goal is for this to continue and even expand in greater ways. I think prevention is key as well as taking advantage of individual moments and using them as learning tools for students.”


Dodds said it is also important that the staff also shows positive behavior towards one another.


“The students see interactions between staff members and actions speak louder than words,”Dodd said. ” I believe our principal does a wonderful job of keeping everyone accountable which in turn has led to more fulfilling relationships in our building.”


Primary school principal Amanda Rather said the school’s anti-bullying promotion isn’t just campaigned in October, but throughout the year.


“I feel that in October, as well as, all the other months, we focus on the positive behaviors we intend to see instead of focusing on the negative behaviors,” Rather said. “I have been proud of the work our counselor, Allyson Dodds, has done with our students and staff in promoting positive actions towards one another. We have the mindset here at LPS that as we are helping to develop these young children that everything that happens, positive and negative, is a learning experience. When we see a child or adult “filling another’s bucket” by doing something positive, we talk about it. How did it look, how did it make that person feel that had their “bucket” filled and how did it make the person feel that did it? Same goes for the undesired behaviors. We talk about it. What could you have done instead of calling someone a name? What could you have done instead of push, etc. I feel this language, our guidance as a staff, and parental support is why we really have not had a big issue of bullying at our school. Sure, there is peer conflict, but teaching kids how to work through that is our job and is very rewarding when you see it happen correctly, especially if you have been working closely with a student on that skill for a while. It is important for us all to know the difference in bullying and peer conflict and teach our students how to properly identify bullying when it happens and what to do so it can be addressed.”


Every October, schools and organizations across the country join STOMP Out Bullying in observing National Bullying Prevention Month. The goal is encourage communities to work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying by increasing awareness of the prevalence and impact of bullying on all children of all ages. For more information about National Bullying Prevention Month or the STOMP Out Bullying program, visit http://www.stompoutbullying.org/