Bergman Elementary School tackles bullying with kindness

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- October is National Bullying prevention month, and a Manhattan Elementary school is taking a positive approach to tackling bullying.

At Bergman Elementary, teachers and administrators are committed to teaching kids how to be kind and empathetic at an early age to prevent bullying.

First grader Kinsley Gaskill understands what bullying can do to her friends.

“If somebody bullies them then they bully others,” Gaskill said.

Bergman Elementary’s social worker Leslie Wohler trains all incoming teachers and staff about bullying. She said the term ‘bully’ is thrown around a lot, so it's important to understand exactly what it is.

“Bullying is actually an aggressive act or leaving someone out, not including someone, typically repeated over time and it’s typically someone who is targeted that has a hard time defending himself or herself," she said.

Wohler said each classroom has a "peace corner" where students can go to relax and talk things out if they’re being bullied or having a bad day.

“Generally it’s a place where kids can calm down if they need to If they still feel like they need to come out of the classroom they can come down here and chill out in my room for a little bit," she said.

Anti-bullying signs are posted around the school and on Bergman’s playground. Plus, they have a "buddy bench" for students to go to when they're feeling down or alone. Fellow students are taught to ‘be a buddy’ - and join them.

First grade teacher Lindsey Umscheid said they teach kids to be kind.

“We are having at least once weekly class meetings where they’re talking about things like kindness in the classroom and how are we going to become smarter today, we need to use our eyes, ears and brains today, what are you going to do to be a good friend today,” she said.

Wohler explained she wants parents and students to report bullying.

“We can’t take care of the problem if we don’t know it’s happening,” Wohler said.

Wohler knows she can’t stop all bullying but hopes to help change the culture of it one child at a time.