WESTFIELD - It was a Saturday afternoon worthy of note when a group of adults and students got together at the Westfield YWCA to talk about a subject that is on the increase across the nation - bullying.
Upon the invitation of the Westfield/Mayville Rotary Club and its president, John "Doc" Hamels, Ph.D., representatives from the Fredonia Rotaract Club, Chautauqua Lake Central and Westfield Academy and Central schools' Interact Clubs, YWCA members and Rotarians heard about the presence of bullying locally and how it affects children as young as 6 years old.
Although information solicited from Brocton, CLSC, Sherman and Westfield superintendents noted that bullying in those schools is not an epidemic, harassment does happen. Bullying has changed dramatically and can be found in all schools. Even teasing is considered bullying.
From left, Michael Parker, CLCS Interact; Chris Shartrand and Jon Williams, Fredonia Rotaract; Charity Ludwig, CLCS Interact, Joe Pagano, Gina Medley and Rebecca Catalano, Fredonia Rotaract; Carly Backus, WACS Interact; middle from left, Rotarians Ann Weidman, Crystal Schrantz, Helen Baran, Dan Smith, Mary Jancek, YWCA member Brenda Backus, CLCS parent Jim Parker; back row from left, Rotarians Doug Richmond, Jim Wakeman, Sue Hammond, Pete and Carolyn Bills, YWCA Director Katie Smith; Rotarians Dave Travis, John Rawlinson, Michael Jancek, John “Doc” Hamels, Rotary president.
The largest contribution to bullying in the schools is the Internet, specifically Facebook. Name-calling and harassment can start at school, escalate online and continue face-to-face at school. The school then is responsible for breaking it up and trying to change behavior into a more positive action. Parents should be aware of what their children are doing on the web.
Additional thoughts include bullying as a constant attack on someone, whether it is obvious or silent. For some reason, a bully, often a victim him/herself, wreaks a campaign of destruction on an individual's personality, looks, home life, thought. It slowly isolates the one being bullied the victim.
"I ask each of you to consider taking a stand with me, as a Rotarian family member, and tell the world that if someone is being bullied, they can seek any one of us. We will assist them in finding the right authority to intervene, and if we see this happening, the victims know they can find a safe haven with us," Hamels. "Bullying stops here with us! We, as Rotarians, have just about wiped out polio. Bullies watch out! You're next."