TCU Lonsdale staff has been encouraging students to “be the ‘I’ in kindness” this school year. And to take that message one step further, students pledged to stand together against bullying.

As part of Principal Mollie Meyer’s year-long goal to implement new strategies in spreading kindness each month, she spent the first full week in November delivering “Stick it to Bullying” talks to each grade level.

“Stick it to Bullying” isn’t new at TCU Lonsdale, but due to the success it generated last year, Meyer chose to order materials again. Duck Brand tape and Project Love, sponsors of the Stick Together campaign, send materials to elementary schools across the nation so principals, counselors, teachers or high school students can promote kindness to youth.

Using a PowerPoint presentation, Meyer explained to students how to recognize when poor behavior has become a serious bullying problem and how to distinguish the different types of bullying.

In her first slide, Meyer described the difference between having a conflict, being rude, being mean and being a bully. Conflicts come up sometimes without anyone controlling them, she explained, but rude behavior might occur if someone has a bad day.

“Our job is to control our ‘ick’ (bad feelings) so we don’t spread rudeness that can cause hurt feelings and lead to future meanness,” Meyer told a group of fourth-graders Thursday morning.

Where meanness is intentional and often planned, and can happen even if the perpetrator isn’t having a bad day, Meyer explained that people typically take ownership of rude behavior after the fact. And while meanness can happen once or twice, bullying happens repeatedly.

When it comes to determining when meanness becomes bullying, Meyer said, “there’s not a clear answer,” but to come to an understanding, questions need to be asked. When an incident turns into bullying, she explained that the target feels trapped and wants it to stop. With a serious bullying incident, she said grown-ups need to be involved as there are serious consequences.

Meyer also taught students how to identify four types of bullying: verbal, emotional, cyber and physical. She explained that verbal bullying could be racial slurs, negative comments on someone’s religious beliefs, or rude remarks. Emotional bullying, she said, could harm someone’s reputation. Cyber bullying in particular generated a larger discussion in which Meyer encouraged students to talk to their parents about making their online experience safer.

If students witness bullying, Meyer encouraged them to get an adult involved rather than being a bystander.

“If you don’t stand up for the victim, then you’re part of the problem,” she explained.

Students watched a YouTube video that illustrated the positive effects of spreading kindness, and many remembered watching it last year. During this time, teachers tapped them on the shoulder to sign their names on neon duct tape and stick them to a poster. This was their pledge to stand together in kindness.

After the video, Meyer asked students to share with one another what they plan to do to show kindness.

Fourth-grader Pricilla Garza described a time when she held a door open for an elderly woman entering a store. She plans to find more opportunities like that.

Added fourth-grader Maisie Teigen, simply: “Just be kind to everyone.”

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-333-3135. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty.

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