Bullying was target of workshop at La Merced

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Bullying doesn’t start and end with name calling and pushing and shoving these days.

The new age of bullying with students involves text messaging, Facebook and a wide-array of social networking sites, according to Charles Nuanes, an investigator with the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Brent Ruffner-News-Bulletin photo: Belen Board of Education member Larry Lindberg talks with Kelly Chapel, a La Merced kindergarten teacher, at a recent bullying workshop. Charles Nuanes, an investigator with the 13th Judcial District Attorney’s Office and Belen Schools Superintendent Ron Marquez were among the speakers.

Nuanes, along with Belen Schools Superintendent Ron Marquez, spoke to a small group of parents at La Merced Elementary School in Rio Communities a few weeks ago.

The event, hosted by the school’s staff, provided parents with tools to ensure their children are safe.

Nuanes said students can be victims of cyber-bullying, a method of bullying where children can receive threats via the Internet. He said parents must ask their children questions to ensure that they are safe.

It’s important for parents to know exactly which websites are being accessed, he said.

“The biggest thing is communication,” Nuanes said. “You have to talk to your children.”

The investigator said sites such as Facebook and YouTube allow children to post provocative images or videos that might be damaging to others. Students can send text messages with images that could go out to a number of people at any one time.

“Once you hit that button, you can never get it back,” Nuanes said. “It’s gone. It can travel from here to who knows where.”

Nuanes said parents should report online activity that they suspect is cyber-bullying.

Robin Phillips, the school’s counselor, said there are still “old school” methods of bullying.

The Belen Consolidated Schools implemented a policy after the New Mexico Legislature required school districts put one into place by the end of this August.

Phillips said bullying starts with a student or students who try and gain power over others, and she said most offenders at the school didn’t realize they were causing harm.

“Honestly, there’s a lot of kids who did not know they were bullies,” Phillips said. “They didn’t know until I told them of their behaviors.”

Phillips said in some cases, a student’s aggressive behavior starts at home where a child may see similar behavior from their parents. She said no one is exempt from being bullied, though males and females bully each other differently.

“Boys, you guys will get in a fight and beat each other half to death and the next day you are best friends,” Phillips said. “Girls, you say something to them in kindergarten and they want to beat you up in high school.”

Kelly Chapel, a La Merced kindergarten teacher, said the school’s staff tries to curb bullying at the school. Several signs against bullying hang in the hallways of the school. She said she talks to students immediately following any incidents between students.

“We try to nip it in the bud,” Chapel said.

Grandparent Oscar Hoselton Sr. said he went to the meeting because he wanted his grandson, Tyler, to know what to do if he is bullied in the future.

“I tell him to walk away or go to the principal,” Hoselton said.

Hoselton said the workshop helped him see what students may be up against with fellow classmates.

“I like to get involved,” he said.


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.