HENNEPIN — The Putnam County Elementary School observed National Bullying Awareness Month with Blue Shirt Day on Oct. 8. In addition to encouraging all staff and students to wear blue for the day, the school had activities in the gymnasium to educate the students on bullying, how to combat it and encourage them to do their part to eliminate it in the school.
Brandy Baele, social worker for the Putnam County Primary and Elementary Schools, designed four games for students to play to understand bullying.
“We wanted to do something fun for the kids and learning at the same time. I’ve been talking to the ladies from the county probation office, and we wanted to do something altogether,” Baele said. “I have a lot of books, resources and materials, so I took some of that to make some fun activities out of those, so the kids could have fun and learn at the same time.”
Putnam County probation officer Nikki Tonioni and Kerry Gensini ran some of the games at the event and also talked to students about bullying.
Some of the games dealt with how to prevent and stand up to bullying and what to do if you’re a victim of bullying. The games also branched into other areas.
“We have a tattling versus reporting game. We want kids to report bullying instances to a teacher, any adults in the building and to their parents. Some kids don’t understand the difference between reporting and tattling, so we’re trying to teach that from an early age,” Baele said.
Another game was centered around cyberbullying, something fairly new but just as bad as regular bullying. Baele said many children in third grade already have cell phones.
Once students finished all four games, they signed a pledge to help stop bullying at school.
According to a study by Business Insider, using information from the National Education Association and other sources, bullying affects one out of every three students in Grades 6-10. It’s also estimated more than 160,000 students a day stay home from school to avoid bullying and harassment.