Kindergarten through eighth grade students gathered into school gyms to listen to the deputies and participate in question and answer sessions focusing on the proper treatment of others.
“Who can stop bullies?” asked deputy John Waters, after describing a bully as someone who repeatedly harasses others. “You; by being nice to each other.”
Deputy Waters said the Johnson County sheriff’s department conducts the anti-bullying program every year with visits to each of the county’s five grade schools. Waters said the children respond well to the conversation of the program and understand the intent of their message.
“We’re here to talk with the students to let them know we care and that we’re here to help them if they should ever need us,” Waters said. “School should be a safe place for fun and learning and a place the kids look forward going to each day.”
Deputy Waters was joined by deputy Scott Sparks who spoke to the students about the dangers of cyber bullying through social media such as Facebook or the use of text messaging. Sparks encouraged the students to conduct their social media activities with the same respect towards others as they would in person. Sparks also spoke about the dangers of social media tools predators use to lure in unsuspecting victims.
“If someone sends you a message and you don’t know who it is, don’t open it or answer it,” Sparks said, speaking on the ways people lure in others for possible online confrontations. “And, before you send a text message, ask yourself, ‘Would mom and dad be OK with this?’”
The deputies said their message is as simple as the Golden Rule in which their goal for the students is for them to treat others as they wished to be treated.
“It’s not a good feeling to come to school and not know how people are going to treat you,” Waters said, adding, “It’s important to treat others fairly and if someone is being a bully it’s important to let [an adult] know.”