At Kenmore Junior High, no fear of bullying

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by TONYA MOSLEY / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 3, 2012 at 7:41 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 3 at 7:41 PM

KENMORE, Wash. -- In the cafeteria at Kenmore Junior High, the students are giving their pain a name.

"I've been bullied and it's depressing," says Jonathan.

"I've been called fat many times and it really gets to me," says Clare.

These students are making a paper "bully chain" ... pieces of paper on which the students have written their own bullying stories. And with that chain comes a promise to each other: "We want to put an end to it today."

Kenmore Junior High gets it, but attorney and bullying expert Yvonne Ward says that's not the case in every school district.

"Instead of bullying, they call it 'a disgreement,' even if it's physical and violent," says Ward, who has taken on several high-profile bullying cases. She says there's a reason why some districts may be hesitant to call it what it is. "If there are a number of instances, one of the government agencies can come in and look it over and start scrutinizing."

With government scrutiny can come the reputation of being a "bad" school. That label could affect state support and funding.

Ward and the staff at Kenmore believe being educated, sympathetic and open to hearing what's really going on with students and bullying will ultimately make the difference.

"There's no bullying allowed, and so if you're a hater don't even come around us," says a student named Clare.

Ward suggests parents formally report instances of bullying to administrators in writing. If the incident falls under the state definition of bullying, by law a school must report it.

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