Grayslake Middle School students heard about the harmful effects of bullying as part of an inaugural Positive Action Day that was designed to promote good behavior.
Seventh- and eighth-grade students broke into groups with an adult facilitator for discussions and role playing as part of the all-day exercise Friday. About 825 students attend the middle school that's part of Grayslake Elementary District 46.
Middle school Assistant Principal Karen Wiesner said one of the most significant messages of the day focused on potential onlookers to bullying: "Don't stand by -- stand up."
"I think the kids definitely understood the purpose of the day," Wiesner said.
Students received definitions, facts and statistics on bullying from Grayslake police officer Christian Andrews. The children also were informed how they treat others may be considered bullying.
"A lot of times, they're not even aware of it," Wiesner said.
One of the exercises involved a paper cutout of a person that was ripped by one of the adult facilitators each time it was called a name by a student, such as "fat." Pieces were taped back on the cutout following an apology, but the students were told the person would not be quite the same after the name-calling.
Bullying can be physical, reactive, oral or relational, according to the presentation to the students. For example, the students were taught that cutting off a student from social connections or friends is considered relational bullying.
Compliments from one student to another were part of the day as well.
Wiesner said plans are to have a Grayslake High School District 127 pupil share bullying stories at the middle school in the spring as a follow-up to Positive Action Day.
Meanwhile, District 46 will compile results from a just-completed anonymous survey of children from third through eighth grade regarding bullying. The survey asked several questions, such as whether a student has ever called someone an inappropriate name or has been bullied at school.
District 46 recently assembled an anti-bullying task force with school officials and parents. Superintendent Ellen Correll has said she wants a zero-tolerance stance on bullying.
Plans call for a bullying survey to be sent to the District 46 community at large.