Sticks and stones can break your bones, but names can hurt for a lifetime.
A Community Jam in Saline Oct. 8 will highlight the importance of preventing bullying. A fair with games for kids and vendors will be held from 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 8, followed by a concert from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. All events are in the Hornet Stadium at Saline High School. There will also be two daytime assemblies at the school.
A joint effort of parents and staff, the Community Jam is being coordinated by Police Officer Liaison Tiffany Small. The event is free, and everyone is welcome to attend and participate in festivities like food, games and fun.
Phil Chalmers, leading authority on violence and homicide, and L.G. Wise, a minister and rap artist, will be guest speakers and will discuss bullying, violence and suicide. The pair, who work together and visit schools, produced a song together about bullying and the negative effects it has on children.
Steve Laatsch, assistant superintendent of instruction for Saline Area Schools (SAS) said bullying does more than hurt feelings. He said kids that get taunted often don’t tell people, and it not only hurts their self-esteem, their grades can suffer too.
“It’s a very serious issue,” said Laatsch.
SAS also hosts a yearly event where kids take a pledge against bullying.
“There is no place for hate,” said Laatsch.
Laatsch said the district has established guidelines to look for and curb bullying. Teachers in the district are trained through safeTALK, a program held by the National Office for Suicide Prevention, created to bring awareness to signs of suicide.
“Kids are dying because of this,” said Laatsch.
The TALK in safeTALK stands for Tell, Ask, Listen and Keepsafe. The program trains staff on skills like general awareness, alertness skills, intervention, assessment and management. Staff also learns how to connect students with resources to help.
Laatsch said that while the Community Jam is being held to build awareness, the event is just a piece of the action SAS will be taking to combat bullying.
“We want to take proactive measures,” he said. “We want this to be a sustained effort.”
According to Laatsch, SAS would like to replicate a program like one in Swartz Creek called the “Power of 100”.
Founded by Swartz Creek Assistant Principal David Simancek, the principal of “Power of 100” is that if 100 students and staff attend each event, then there will be 100 people more people in school to help support students who experience bullying, and also help foster a positive relationships between classmates.
Laatsch said SAS wants programs against anti-bullying in all grades, to build awareness and expose issues relating to bullying. By holding the Jam, the district hopes to build awareness to the effects of bullying.
“We feel positive about this effort,” said Laatsch. “We want this to be big.”
Clarification: Information has been added to the story to clarify the events being held during the Community Jam.