WEST JORDAN — Oquirrh Elementary School launched a year-long anti-bullying campaign Tuesday where students can earn movie tickets and shoes for encouraging positive behavior.
During an assembly Tuesday, a popular Mark Wills' country song played through the auditorium speakers at Oquirrh Elementary School. The lyrics to the song are familiar to anyone who's been dealt a few blows by bullies.
"Don't laugh at me. Don't call me names. Don't get your pleasure from my pain," the kids sang.
The assembly will be one of several throughout the year to remind students of their pledge to "Walk tall, respect for all" in the school's anti-bullying campaign.
"Using the term respect is teaching positive behavior," said David Butler, Climate/Culture Specialist, Oquirrh Elementary. "So that the students know how to deal with disrespect, how to respond to that disrespect, and really reinforce respectful behavior."
To encourage kids to show respect for each other, students will wear their "Walk Tall" t-shirts every Friday. The winners will come from the classrooms with the most number of kids wearing their t-shirts. Students will win MegaPlex movie tickets and $25 gift cards to shop at Shoe Carnival. The winners will also be recognized in a monthly assembly.
"New shoes make everyone feel great," said Mat Meyer, General Manager, Shoe Carnival, Jordan Landing. "And what better way to make them feel great about themselves than learning how to protect themselves against bullies in school or outside of school."
Students watched "role-play" videos that demonstrated communication skills to stop bully behavior. In the event students feel "disrespected" or "unsafe" they're taught to stretch their hand in front of their "bully" and say "stop."
Butler said kids typically say what they feel, without filters, which can lead to bad behavior.
"Sometimes I think the word bully is overused," Butler said. "I don't know if we're seeing more bullying in school or if we're just drawing more attention to it."
Hopefully they grow up to know the importance of not bullying and to treat everybody the way that they'd want to be treated.
–Jamie Parry, parent
However, Butler also said teaching students to treat each other with respect is a proactive way to deal with mean kids in schools.
Several Oquirrh Elementary students know what it feels like to be bullied; therefore, they said this type of campaign can mean so much to those who may be suffering in silence.
"The people that get bullied, it hurts their feelings a lot," said sixth grader Tahira Khan.
Another student said bullying "can lead them (students) to serious hurting."
Bullying can be so damaging for kids physically and emotionally that "they might have to go to the hospital," said Laiba Sattar.
"I don't want to be a bystander who just sits and watches other people get bullied," said sixth grader Jordyn Parry.
Parry's mother, Jamie, said she doesn't want to worry about her kids or other people's kids getting mistreated at school.
"Hopefully they grow up to know the importance of not bullying and to treat everybody the way that they'd want to be treated," said Jamie Parry.
The campaign will run throughout the school year until July.