Program director says anti-bullying messages need to be delivered consistently

Tonya Laville offers homework help to students.
Tonya Laville offers homework help to students.

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A deadly fight that led to the death of a student in Moss Point last week has shed some light on the problem of bullying and violence in schools.

Some schools and after-school care programs have been focusing on an anti-bullying curriculum. And organizers say they are getting results.

After the final school bell rings around a dozen kids come to the Alan Weatherford Youth Center for the Gulfport Police Department's After Care program. The students get one-on-one homework help, and do activities geared towards conflict resolution. A play helps these kids learn how to peacefully respond to bullying.

According to Tonya Laville the director of the program, the anti-bullying message needs to be delivered consistently to have a real impact on violence in schools.

"Teaching them conflict resolution, we do that through physical fitness classes, martial arts classes, life skills. Just keep talking to kids about it; you can't do it just once. You got to keep it going," said Laville.

The Executive Director of the Substance Abuse Task Force Carolyn Anderson offers counseling to parents and students on a variety of issues including bullying.

She works with schools to help students learn to give positive feedback to others instead of negativity using the Rachel's Challenge Curriculum.

Anderson said, "We're trying to teach our children all the positive things to do, how to say nice things, 'You've got a great smile today. You're eyes are pretty. Great job on that homework.'"

Rachel's Challenge was implemented into the Long Beach School District this past January. Anderson says the school district is already seeing results.

"Disciplines down, we cannot, we have not surveyed yet, but we're hoping that substance abuse is down," said Anderson.

Laville and Anderson say even if your child's school doesn't offer a curriculum on bullying, parents and guardians can still make a big impact on the problem by talking to their kids about the importance of dealing with problems without resorting to violence.

The Alan Weatherford Center is open to all children from 4th - 8th grades. Official say it's a safe place for children to go to interact with both teachers and police officers. The center is also seeking donations. If you'd like to help you can call 868-5703.

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