Bullies beware: Kennett Middle School a hate-free zone

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Kennett Middle School teams up with the ADL in an effort to curb harassment and promote tolerance

By P.J. D’Annunzio, Staff Writer, Kennetttimes.com

KENNETT SQUARE — Many folks vividly remember the days when they—and their lunch money—fell prey to the common schoolyard bully. In addition to the short term discomfort it provides, bullying can cause immense damage to a person in the long-term, leaving them to carry the invisible scars of emotional trauma for extended periods of their lives.

However, the days of the bully appear to be numbered thanks to the “No Place for Hate” initiative at to Kennett Middle School.

In cooperation with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Kennett Middle School has already built a counter-bullying unit for the purpose of supplementing the school’s behavioral and tolerance education programs.

“We implemented the Bullying Prevention Task Force in the 2011-2012 school year,” KMS counselor Jennifer Reinheimer said. “The goal has been to focus on creating a climate of respect, responsibility for our actions, and acceptance of each individual in our building.”

This task force ensures that the middle school’s resources and activities—such as curriculum that defines what bullying is and instruction that provides alternative acceptable behaviors—are implemented and ongoing.  The group consists of administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, students, and parents, as well as representation from the transportation department.

The task force will be operating in full swing when ADL’s “No Place for Hate” designation is in effect, starting in the 2012-2013 school year.

“Unfortunately, bullying is an issue that has greatly impacted our society,” Reinheimer said, “As such; we are doing our part to teach our students to understand how their daily behavior and interactions impact others.

While Reinheimer claims that the anti-bullying curriculum in use is not set in stone, she hopes to alleviate the possibility of bullying becoming an issue for the district by continuous exposure to the topic.

“Promoting understanding and acceptance is a key component of the No Place for Hate Initiative, and one we’ve embraced wholeheartedly,” she said. “The NPFH Initiative, and the criteria to be designated as a NPFH School, drives what we do.”

The ADL states that the “No Place for Hate” concept was developed and implemented in Eastern Pennsylvania with partners that include several major media outlets in the area, such as WPVI-TV and the Q-102 radio station to name a few.

NPFH is also endorsed by a coalition of 46 organizations representing a wide range of religious, educational, law enforcement, ethnic, and community groups and is likewise endorsed by the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities and the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.

Regardless of the major backing Kennett Middle School has received from the ADL and its affiliates, the program’s results are to be determined, as the full implementation of the program has yet to occur, “In terms of success, I think we are a work in progress,” Reinheimer said.

But the tone of the KMS faculty and staff, as always, is hopeful; by garnering as much involvement as possible, Reinheimer feels that the program will have a chance to grow in the KCSD system.

“Our task force is fluid and will remain a part of the KMS infrastructure,” she said.  “I think we can measure success by asking staff, students, and the community to provide us with feedback on how our students treat each other and what they think of the climate in our building.

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