Aaliyah Simmons, Tiani Fitts, Rayana Bradley and Jamar Simpson, all of West Oak Lane, as well as Rayaina Green, of Mount Airy, all have something in common. On the surface they are all 11-year-old fifth-graders at the Samuel W. Pennypacker School.
Yet as members of the Leader of the Pack club, they are all working to remove bullying from their school’s classrooms and corridors.
Rayana was recently in music class when two of her peers began arguing about a pencil. As one was more aggressive than the other, Bradley quickly remembered some of the conflict resolution techniques she learned in a Leader of the Pack session. Though it didn’t squelch the confrontation, the “I’m telling” rather than “no snitching” resolution technique learned through the club helped restore the classroom equilibrium.
“I’ve learned that bullies become bullies sometimes because of their homes,” said Rayana. “Sometimes they are bullied at home. So then they come to school and bully others. By learning about the different scenarios, and sometimes acting them, out it helps us to have good ideas about handling bullies.”
“What I’ve really learned is that bullies can put everyone in danger,” said Jamar. “Sometimes they are jealous of others. They may like getting others in trouble. At least when we tell, Mrs. Genaw (the counselor) will take care of it. That way no one is in danger.”
Rayaina, who has been at Pennypacker since she was in kindergarten, is pleased that there is now a no tolerance for bullying culture at the school. She credits the addition of Wendy Baldwin as principal for it.
“When you have a principal that changes things and makes sure that teachers help stop the bullying, that’s important,” Rayaina said.
Tiani agreed. She said that students have to feel safe that when they tell an adult in the school building that they are being bullied — that it will be addressed immediately.
“We know that if we tell Mr. (Austin) Wallace, the dean, that he is going to stop it,” she said. “This helps the children to open up and talk about it because that’s the only way to stop the bullying.”
Aaliyah added that is important to define bullying and show its ramifications. She readily admitted that before joining Leader of the Pack and attending weekly bullying education sessions at Pennypacker, she was not clear what bullying was.
“When you watch films about the effects and how some people have even committed suicide then you realize how serious it is,” she said.
“There are even some people who think that being a bully will make them more popular,” Simmons said. “I’ve learned that it is always wrong to bully. I’m glad they are (addressing) it at this school because it makes us feel safe.”