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 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, Chautauqua Lake, Sherman and Westfield superintendents noted 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.
In attendance on a Saturday afternoon to bring the subject of bullying to the forefront were, in the front from left to right: Michael Parker of Chautauqua Lake Central School Interact; Chris Shartrand of Fredonia Rotaract; Jon Williams of Fredonia Rotaract; Charity Ludwig of Chautauqua Lake Central School Interact; Joe Pagano of Fredonia Rotaract; Gina Medley of Fredonia Rotaract; Rebecca Catalono of Fredonia Rotaract; and Carly Backus of Westfield Academy and Central School Interact. In the middle from left to right were: Rotarian Ann Weidman; Rotarian Crystal Schrantz; Rotarian Helen Baran; Rotarian Dan Smith; Rotarian Mary Jancek; YWCA Westfield member Brenda Backus; and Chautauqua Lake Central School parent Jim Parker. In the back row from left to right were: Rotarian Doug Richmond; Rotarian Jim Wakeman; Rotarian Sue Hammond; Rotarian Pete Bills; Rotarian Carolyn Bills; YWCA Westfield Director Katie Smith; Rotarian Dave Travis; Rotarian John Rawlinson; Rotarian Michael Jancek; and Rotary president John “Doc” Hamels.
The largest contribution to bullying in the schools is the Internet, specifically Facebook. One child calls another a dirty name in school, but that doesn't develop into a big fight. The first child goes home after school and calls the second child a dirty name and a lot more on the Internet. The next day, the first child has been waiting for the opportunity to really give the second the business and the oral bullying occurs. The school then is responsible for breaking it up and trying to change behavior into a more positive action, which is happening in these schools. As for Facebook, and other Internet uses for bullying, parents should be aware of what their children are watching.
Additional thoughts included bullying as a constant attack on someone, whether it is obvious or silent. For some reason, a bully, often a victim himself or herself, wreaks a campaign of destruction on an individual's personality, looks, home life and thoughts. 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," Hamels said. "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. Bullying stops here with us. We, as Rotarians, have just about wiped out polio. Bullies, watch out. You're next."