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Helmut Schmidt, Published January 20 2011

Students witness bullying in Fargo

Fargo students may not be following bullying legislation at the North Dakota Legislature, but they see the problem regularly in school and offered lawmakers some tips Wednesday on how to get a handle on it.

“People are dying from it. It’s a huge problem,” said Lindsey Singer, referring to bullying cases across the country.

Singer, a senior at North High School, suggests improved classes on the subject from grade school through graduation.

Seventh-graders Kennede Fiechtner, Erin Slack and Katelyn Blue have seen it at Ben Franklin Middle School.

“It happens a lot in the halls … and the bus,” Fiechtner said.

“You can see bullying after school, like in the back of the school,” Slack said.

“And in the locker bays,” Blue said.

Ben Franklin sixth-grader Erik Benson would like a few more eyes in the halls.

“Maybe if the teachers are looking out for it. It would help if they did that every day,” he said, adding that it wouldn’t hurt to install video cameras outside.

“The locker bays need them, too,” said Ben Franklin sixth-grader Delton Gabel.

“Maybe if there was a consequence,” such as detention or in-school suspension, said Riley DuBord, another Ben Franklin sixth-grader. “If it happens a lot, expulsion.”

Gilbert Diaz, a North senior, suggests hiring more hall monitors, as they did in a school he attended in Florida.

He said bullies tend to pick on the people with few friends, or those whose likes, habits or way of dress put them on the fringe of school life.

Singer said it also has to be up to the individual to grow up and look at life with a mature mindset.

“You’ve got to make a decision to respect,” she said.

“Education is the key thing,” said Mark Blanshan, an assistant principal at North.

Hazing and harassment are in the current student handbook, and he anticipates that bullying and its consequences will be in the next.

“Realistically, does it have to be on paper?” he asked. “Yes. I think we do.”

Blanshan said he’s most worried about cyber-bullying with cell phones, computers and other technology.

What used to require a physical confrontation, now is done over the Web and by satellite, he said.

“Now, you can bully kids from miles away,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583