Student poster contest winners promote county’s 10,000 Acts of Kindness campaign

More than a dozen students who submitted artwork depicting their vision of kindness will be recognized during a special awards ceremony for the Kid’s Kindness Poster Competition next month, when their designs will become promotional posters for a broader yearlong 10,000 Acts of Kindness campaign.

More than 1,000 students from York County, Pennsylvania and beyond submitted entries for the poster competition, which tasked students with drawing or painting what kindness means to them, the York Dispatch reports.

The winners – first, second and third place finishers for high school, middle school, elementary school and pre-k/kindergarten categories, along with a few honorable mentions – will help promote York County’s 10,000 Acts of Kindness initiative, a year-long project that culminates with a 1.8 mile table in York City’s Penn Park next June.

The table will hold 10,000 spots for people nominated by community kindness ambassadors for exemplary action, and the group will join together for a multi-cultural festival, dinner and celebration in hopes of breaking a Guinness World Record.

“It’s a way to remember the 1969 York race riots in a positive way on its anniversary next year, recognize the progress that’s been made and look forward to more change, organizers said,” according to the Dispatch. “The poster competition marks the first in a series of projects to showcase student talents as the community counts down to the big celebration.”

Officials will present student poster winners with their framed artwork at a ceremony in York City on November 7, and all submissions will be on display at the city’s Marketview Arts throughout the month.

Ramona Kinard, pastor vice president of the York Black Ministers’ Association, told the Dispatch the community-wide campaign is ultimately about taking action to help others, through kindness and compassion.

“We just want each individual to be kind to one another by doing an actual action,” she said. “Not just holding a door, but doing an actual action. Going out and cutting your neighbor’s lawn, helping an elderly person, helping a child.”

Both the 10,000 Acts of Kindness campaign and poster project are aimed at getting students focused on developing positive character virtues, something researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture found parents desperately want.

“The overwhelming majority of American parents (96 percent) say ‘strong moral character’ is very important, if not essential, to their child’s future,” according to the Institute’s “Culture of American Families” report.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation offers a wide range of resources for parents and educators to steer youngsters toward helping others, including “10 Kindness Week Ideas for Schools,” which offers daily opportunities for students to spread the love.

And while many of the activities are geared toward the foundation’s Random Acts of Kindness Week each February, nearly all involve little ways that work well to promote kind acts throughout the year.


IN history teacher brings Pledge of Allegiance to life through personal connections

Greensburg High School history teacher John Pratt is bringing the Pledge of Allegiance to life in a unique way that’s inspiring students to think big.

Pratt explained his very simple idea for the pledge to the Indianapolis Star: “Each day we have someone different from the community in to lead us.”

So far, those people have included Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, astronaut David Wolf, former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, journalists and cartoonists for the Star, Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, and dozens of other inspiring characters.

In some cases those who participate call in, or video conference, while others visit the rural school in person to connect with students. Pratt told the Star that arranging a new person to lead the pledge each day can be a chore, but it’s a worthwhile effort to offer up role models who love and respect America.

“I love saying the pledge every day because it gives me an opportunity to thank those who served our country,” he said. “In particular those in my family.”

Many of the distinguished guests share inspiring stories with students that encourage them to dream big, a concept Pratt first developed as a teacher near Lake Chautauqua, New York two decades ago. There, Pratt revived a 19th century program called Chautauqua that brought in notable speakers to share their unique lives. Many had overcome life-altering challenges, such as the Holocaust, life without a limb, or the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

And while the program at Greensburg High School involves less interaction than the in-depth lectures in New York, it’s clearly inspiring students to reflect on their civic responsibilities and character.

“It’s an awesome project that Mr. Pratt put together. It makes you more attentive,” Greenburg High School senior Walker Taylor told the Star. “It makes you want to put more effort into the pledge because there is someone with a different history in here every day.”

Pratt believes it’s a program all schools could benefit from to make significant broader impact.

“I teach students to be idealists. And wouldn’t it be cool if once a month every school had a guest leader for the Pledge of Allegiance?” he told the Star. “There are hundreds of dignitaries in Indiana. Wouldn’t it be great if each one took 60 seconds out of the schedule to phone in the Pledge of Allegiance with any school. Think of the value that would have.”

Research from the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia shows parents undoubtedly support Pratt’s mission.

A 2016 survey summarized in “The Vanishing Center of American Democracy” found that “eight of 10 (respondents) … agree that ‘America is an exceptional nation with a special responsibility to lead the world.’

“Overwhelmingly (93%), they also describe themselves as patriotic,” according to the report.

Educators considering their role in promoting patriotism in students could consider education activist Diane Ravitch’s article “Should We Teach Patriotism?

Ravitch reviews her take on the history of patriotism in American schools, as well as thoughts on the proper way to convey the concept to students.

“If … we teach civic education and define patriotism as a respectful understanding and appreciation of the principles and practices of democratic self-government, then patriotism should be woven through the daily life and teachings of the public schools,” Ravitch wrote.


MI student’s fundraiser for service dog offers lessons on life, character

When Sand Lake, Michigan’s Ian Christensen was diagnosed with diabetes two years ago, his uncle with the same illness offered some advice.

“You can’t let the diabetes control you,” Ian’s uncle Aaron, who lost his eyesight and a kidney to diabetes in 1996, told the then 4 year old. “You have to control it.”

Christensen took the message to heart, and two years later he’s relying on those wise words to overcome the limitations of his condition. Because Christensen’s volatile blood-sugar levels means he’s prone to medical emergencies, officials in the Tri-County Area School District determined he could not ride the bus to school unattended, ABC News reports.

The situation, along with the boy’s pleas for a new dog, sparked an idea to send Christensen to school with an alert dog, which are trained to detect changes in blood sugar well in advance of complications.

“I mentioned it to Ian … and we said, ‘if we’re gonna get a dog, let’s get one that is trained,’” Ian’s mother, Katrina Christensen, told the television station.

The family researched alert dogs and spoke with another family in the school district raising money for an alert dog. The Christensens soon realized the animal would cost roughly $25,000, and broke the news to Ian that it could take several years before they could save up enough money.

Undeterred, Ian and his family started selling lemonade and vegetables from their garden to raise funds. They also sold pumpkins, a family tradition dating back decades. The youngster wasn’t shy about sharing his mission, and soon folks were dropping off $50 bills for his special gourds.

Katrina Christensen shared Ian’s story on Facebook, as well, and within days donations poured in. Supporters online encouraged the family to launch a fundraising page and they set a goal of $20,000.

Katrina told ABC News she “wasn’t prepared at all” for the overwhelming generosity.

“The first night we raised almost $2,000, and I said ‘I’ll be happy if it’s over $2,500 tomorrow.’ And when we woke up it was $15,000!” she said.

“You can’t even imagine what it feels like to have so many people show you so much support and love,” she said. “There’s one person who donated $1,000. I don’t know who this person is. I’ve never met this person. But someone felt it in their hearts to donate $1,000 to a boy they never met. How do you even fathom that?”

Ian’s campaign quickly raised more than enough money for an alert dog, and the experience convinced the youngster to pay it forward.

“Any money left over,” Katrina Christensen told ABC, “Ian plans to donate so that another child like him can get a dog or a pump or whatever it is to make diabetes easier because he knows how hard it is.”

Ian’s story contributes to the much broader habits and traditions in society that ultimately compel people to take action to help others.

James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, pointed out in his book “The Tragedy of Moral Education in America”:

What empathy we feel may help us understand someone else’s needs, and even feel the desire to help that person. But without embedded habits and moral traditions, empathy does not tell us what to do, nor when, nor how.

The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues examines how character education can ensure students are “Flourishing from the Margins” by developing a sense of purpose in young students, particularly those like Ian who struggle to fit into traditional schools.


Bullying, health issues inspire 6-year-old to spread kindness online

Illinois first-grader Ayden Cazares knows what it feels like to have a broken heart.

As a kindergartner at Ridge Elementary School in Plainfield, bullies targeted the boy by pulling down his pants, biting him and shoving him off a slide, his mother, Nelly Sainez, told the Plainfield Patch.

What the bullies likely did not know is Cazares was battling a congenital heart defect, for which he underwent surgery in August. The experience wasn’t easy, and while the now 6-year-old is recovering, he’s not sitting around sulking about his situation. Instead, he launched a Facebook page with his mother’s help to reach out to kids less fortunate than himself, to offer encouragement and help make their birthday wishes come true.

Sainez said the family came up with the idea last year when they decided to give away some of Ayden’s old toys to kids in need, and it’s since evolved into “adopting” a family for Christmas and daily video messages of support to kids who write in to the Facebook page, Aiden’s Fulfilling Your Birthday Wish.

“We found a single mom with two boys with autism and gave away toys and clothes,” Sainez said. “It just went from there.”

“He just loves making the videos,” she said.

Aiden said it’s rewarding to give presents to other kids on their birthdays, especially those who have similar stories of bullying.

“I want them to feel happy,” Cazares told CBS Chicago. “If they don’t feel happy, I don’t feel happy.”

The first-grader issued a challenge to his followers for Bullying Prevention Month in October to “be nice to someone and do something for them,” and his constant focus on others is gaining a lot of attention.

The New York-based See the Wish/Be-A-Friend Project highlighted the “6-year-old Upstander from Chicago” and collected encouraging letters from students across the country to offer support.

Through mid-October, the See the Wish campaign had collected nearly 1,000 personal letters from students commending Cazares for overcoming his life struggles and inspiring others to endure through kindness.

“You did so awesome with them, with the boys hurting you,” wrote Jaelen, a student from Texas. “You inspired me to ‘kill people with kindness.’ You are a good role model for people for all ages.”

Cazares’ experience highlights perhaps the most foundational concept of character education.

James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, wrote in his book “The Death of Character”:

Implicit in the word character is a story. It is a story about living for a purpose that is greater than the self.

Parents and educators looking to inspire similar selfless kindness can find a variety of resources from The Great Kindness Challenge, an annual event put on by the nonprofit Kids for Peace.

The one-week event can be tailored to schools or families, and uses a checklist to help show youngsters what kindness really means. In 2018, more than 10 million students in nearly 20,000 schools carried out over 500 million acts of kindness in 103 countries during the last week in January.

“The Great Kindness Challenge provided an opportunity for our students to care for each other in ways that went above and beyond their normal interactions,” California elementary school principal Chad Lund said. “As a result, we noticed a real impact on the school’s culture with a decrease in bullying and an increase in compassion, unity and respect.”


KY students ‘choose kindness’ in the wake of tragic school shooting

Students at Kentucky’s Marshall County High School are sending a message: “We Choose Kindness.”

It’s the theme of a new 8- by 12-foot mural designed to offer hope just months after two students were killed and several others injured in a school shooting. Student Gabe Parker shot and killed 15-year-olds Bailey Hold and Preston Cope on January 23, 2018, and school officials have since installed metal detectors and other safety precautions to prevent a similar situation in the future, WDRB reports.

Those precautions are helping students regain trust, while the mural is helping students to move past the tragedy through art, while also providing a bonding experience with a powerful message.

“I hope that people can understand that being nice is really easy,” project creator Hallie Riley told WPSD.

Riley said she picked “We Choose Kindness” from 60 different mural entries because of what it represents. The image depicts three hands joining together, a testament to a culture of inclusion that will be displayed in a community kindness garden that took root in the wake of the shooting.

“I think that when they see this, they should see the hands stand out,” Riley said. “You should hold hands, and kind of join all together, and be really friendly toward one another.”

Students plan to include benches in the garden to allow students to reflect on that message and help classmates struggling with life.

“The bench just kind of means if someone sits there, you know, they’re having a rough day,” Riley said. “You don’t have to say anything to them, you don’t have to acknowledge it. You just sit there with them, and that person that is going through something knows ‘Hey, they’re there for me.”

It’s a theme students are hoping to expand well beyond their school.

“Why not spread the message of ‘We Choose Kindness’ beyond the walls of the Kindness Garden in Benton, Kentucky?” artist Kijsa Housman told WPSD. “Spread it to the ends of the state, to the ends of the nation. You know you can’t have too much kindness.”

The mural and other lessons taken from the tragedy earlier this year will undoubtedly play a key role in how students at Marshall County High School develop their moral sensibility.

James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, points out in his book “The Death of Character”:

(W)e must acquire a moral sensibility – we learn what is right and wrong, good and bad, what is to be taken seriously, ignored, or rejected as abhorrent – and we learn, in moments of uncertainty, how to apply our moral imagination to different circumstances.

Over time, we acquire a sense of obligation and the discipline to follow them.

The education website TeachThought offers advice from the Ripple Kindness Project to help students “learn by feeling” the benefits of selfless kindness.

“It seems we just can’t get enough of those addictive feel good emotions and with good reason,” according to the column, which provides “8 Reasons For Teaching Kindness In School.” “Scientific studies have shown that kindness has a great number of physical and emotional benefits, and that children require a healthy dose of the warm and fuzzies in order to flourish as healthy, happy, well-rounded individuals.”


School resource officer’s new deputy finds purpose on patrol

Bay Minette, Alabama first-grader Braylon Henson wants to be a police officer when he grows up, thanks to school resource officer Ronald Saladin.

“I noticed his classmates were out there playing and he was in here by himself,” Saladin told WKRG. “I let him come walk with me because he felt left out.”

The 6-year-old was born with a condition known as Ectodernal Dysplasia, which means he was born without sweat glands and cannot go outside when the temperature is above 74 degrees. Teachers know to rub the boy down with ice if he overheats, but his condition means he can’t participate in all of the same activities as his classmates.

“He felt left out, and I didn’t want him to feel left out,” Saladin said. “His mom was afraid he was going to get picked on and bullied when he came to school.”

So Saladin befriended his little partner in August, and the duo have been patrolling the halls of Bay Minette Elementary ever since. Saladin even bought Henson his own mini uniform, complete with handcuffs, hat and badge.

“He would take my stuff but he wanted his own little uniform,” Saladin said.

Henson takes his new responsibility seriously.

“You know what you’re getting, right? A ticket,” Henson told a teacher after he found a pencil on the floor during a recent patrol.

“Hey! I’ll be back,” he warned another classroom.

Teachers told WKRG they’ve noticed Henson’s grades improving since he took on his new role, and it’s obvious his celebrity status on campus boosted his confidence.

“It’s definitely a blessing,” Saladin said, “like it was meant to be.”

The friendship between Saladin and Henson illustrates an important aspect of character education, through both Saladin’s mentorship and Henson’s new-found mission.

James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture, wrote in his book “The Death of Character:”

Implicit in the word character is a story. It is a story about living for a purpose that is greater than the self.

Kenneth Shore, a psychologist, author and chair of a child study team for the Hamilton, New Jersey Public Schools, penned a column for Education World about ways educators can encourage students to engage in school.

“As a teacher, you will have greater success spurring a student to speak up if you can figure out why he is reluctant to participate,” Shore advises. “Whatever the reason for his reticence, your role is not to force him to speak; doing so will more likely make him clam up than open up. Your role is to provide a supportive, encouraging climate that helps him feel more comfortable, more confident, and less fearful of speaking up.”


Justice Against Bullying at School uses slime to teach students how to handle bullies

Students in Kalamazoo, Michigan are fighting bullying, one batch of slime at a time.

About a dozen students from Kalamazoo area schools recently met at the Community Center of New Village Park to mix up their favorite concoction, a monthly reward for good behavior and regular attendance at weekly Justice Against Bullying in Schools (JABS) meetings.

The JABS Slime Club is one of four themed JABS clubs in the area that now draw about 60 students to discussions about how to handle and defuse bullying. The effort – which has expanded to include clubs focused on gardening, dancing and sewing, as well – bloomed from a single club of eight students in 2016 launched by Gwendolyn Hooker, whose granddaughter Justyce was forced to switch schools because of relentless torment.

The regular meetings give students a venue to discuss run-ins with bullies, a game plan for how to react, and an opportunity to bond with their classmates over a shared interest, Second Wave reports.

JABS’ anti-bullying message takes the form of the acronym D.T.T.E.

According to Second Wave:

D: Defend yourself, which might mean covering up or running. T: Tell an adult in charge, such as a teacher or administrator. T: Tell another teacher or administrator, or a parent, grandparent or trusted friend. And E: Express yourself to let your feelings out. D.T.T.E.

“Nobody should violate you personally,” Hooker tells students. “No one should touch you without your permission and make you feel bad. If they do, it’s up to adults to intervene.”

Much of the group’s work centers on restorative justice practices, which aims to bring bullies and their victims together to repair damage caused and to increase the likelihood that offenders will not reoffend. Many kids who bully others, Hooker explains, are often suffering through their own problems at home. Students at the October slime making session concocted blue glittery goo, in honor of National Bullying Prevention Month.

Hooker told the education site she founded JABS because she couldn’t find anti-bullying groups to connect with when her granddaughter was under attack, but the club has since halted the girl’s harassment and brought together numerous community groups to rally around the cause.

“Hooker says that in its two short years, JABS has accrued partnerships from across the city, including KYDNET, the Anti-Bully Squad Partners of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Interfaith Neighborhood Homes Network, Northside Recovery and Resource Center, the Youth Ministry of First Congregationalist Church, Lightning Kicks Martial Arts, Gurlz of Color and the Northside Association for Community Development, just to name a few,” Second Wave reports.

“I had no idea JABS was going to turn into such a needed thing,” Hooker said. “You have to invest in the place you live, work and play. If everyone invested in where they lived, they would profit.”

James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, points to the importance of addressing specifics of a community’s moral ecology to create personalized solutions to bullying that actually work.

“We can only care for the young in their particularity,” Hunter wrote in “The Content of Their Character,” an analysis of character education programs in a wide variety of schools. “If we are not attentive to and understanding of these contexts, we are not caring for real, live human beings, but rather abstractions that actually don’t exist at all.”

The federal website offers a wide variety of tools and information for parents, guardians, educators and others to push back against bullies, from laws and policies to training and research resources.

OH students show commitment to kindness to raise funds for school security

Students in Geneva, Ohio schools are showing off their commitment to kindness for all to see.

Middle and high schools recently pledged to treat everyone with kindness during an event to kickoff a month of kindness awareness programs. The effort, designed by Geneva Parents for School Safety, coincides with National Bullying Prevention Month in October, the Star Beacon reports.

“Kindness is the key to overcoming bullying,” Geneva Parents for School Safety co-director and counselor Marti Milliken Dixon said. “Young people who are kind to each other have far fewer instances of bullying behavior. Teaching a young person kindness is an effective way to improve our society both locally and globally.”

About 100 students tied red and white ribbons on a fence outside of school to show their commitment to treating others with respect and intervening in bullying situations – a display that will greet visitors throughout the month.

“The ribbons blowing in the breeze will be a month-long reminder of their pledge,” Dixon said. “When we empower young people to stand up to the bullies and use positive peer pressure to curb these behaviors, the benefits are palpable. This activity also provides young people with a tangible representation of their good work.”

The kindness pledge event – along with rock painting at elementary schools, compliments day at the middle school, and the creation of a kindness garden at the community library – also serve as fundraisers for Geneva Parents for School Safety to purchase 251 emergency lockdown barriers for every classroom in Geneva Area City Schools, the Star Beacon reports.

“We’re currently at 30 percent of our fundraising goal,” Geneva Parents co-director Margie Netzel said. “Our sponsors have shown they understand the need for safety in our schools and are helping to make it happen.”

Administrators throughout the district spoke up in support of the program, and applauded the focus on rallying the community together around kindness.

“Anything we can do to help kids be sensitive to others and kinder is a positive thing,” Geneva High School Principal Douglas Wetherholt said. “The anti-bullying message is important to us.”

“We want to involve the entire community in this effort,” middle school principal Alex Anderson added.

James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, pointed to the importance of school practices and connections to the community in “The Content of Their Character,” an analysis of character education in a variety of different U.S. schools.

“How a school is organized, the course structure and classroom practices, the relationship between school and outside civic institutions – all these matter in the moral and civic formation of the child,” Hunter wrote.

Parents and educators looking for tips to combat bullying can find a variety of resources from Champions Against Bullying. The group’s “No-Nonsense Guide To Kids’ Bullying Solutions,” for example, teaches students “prevention and intervention strategies, immediate practical solutions and safe and effective ways to help a friend who is being targeted by bullies,” among other topics.

IL school staff focus on healing student traumas to reduce suspensions, expulsions

Teachers, administrators and other school staff in Illinois’ Dolton-Riverdale School District 148 recently spent a week training for a different approach to school discipline aimed at reducing suspension and expulsions.

The October training sessions included virtually all school employees who have contact with students to help build their skills for dealing with unruly students, many of whom struggle with various forms of trauma at home, from parents on drugs to violence and domestic abuse, The Daily Southtown reports.

The effort follows legislation adopted in 2015 that requires all schools to develop discipline policies focused on reserving suspensions as a last resort, and it’s clear the Dolton-Riverdale district is taking its responsibility seriously.

“As a district you’ve decided to embrace what we were trying to do,” said state Rep. Will Davis, sponsor of the legislation, known as SB 100. “I’ve never seen this level of involvement anywhere else.”

Davis and several other local leaders, politicians and educators attended the final day of training in Dolton-Riverdale schools to discuss the importance of the work, and to encourage educators to better connect with students who are struggling or lashing out in the classroom.

“Its goals were to limit lost instructional time, to reduce the racial disproportionality of school exclusions and to encourage educators to engage with the social-emotional needs of their students,” the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights said of SB100. “Harsh discipline is not the way to address what our students are going through in their daily life.”

“It’s about trying to understand where people are coming from, what their situations are,” District 148 Superintendent Kevin Nohelty said.

According to VOYCE, Voices of Youth in Chicago Education:

Illinois has one of the widest disparities between suspended black and white students in the country, according to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

In the 2012-13 school year, Chicago Public Schools issued 32 out-of-school suspensions for every 100 black students, compared to just five for every 100 white students.

Shinora Montgomery, principal at the district’s Early Childhood Center told those at the training session that as “the heart of the community,” it’s critical everyone in schools work together to reverse the cycle of trauma that often drives misbehavior in class.

“Without a strong educational center the community cannot thrive,” Montgomery said.

The work in Illinois and other states to address the issues students face outside of school is something James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, highlights as a key component of effective character education.

In “The Content of Their Character,” a summary of character education programs in a variety of American high schools, Hunter wrote:

We can only care for the young in their particularity. If we are not attentive to and understanding of these contexts, we are not caring for real, live human beings, but rather abstractions that actually don’t exist at all.

The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues offers a wealth of research and information about working with students to overcome adversity.

In the report “Flourishing from the Margins,” an analysis of 3,250 students from a variety of backgrounds, researchers note students “categorized as ‘having purpose’ reported that family and friends, and particularly teachers and members of the community, had a greater and more positive influence on their sense of living a ‘good life’.”


Student knife incidents prompt FL district to highlight anti-bullying efforts

Two recent incidents of Lake County, Florida students carrying knives to class is prompting school officials to step up efforts to promote the district’s anti-bullying hotline in October – National Bullying Prevention Month.

Fred Jones, a sergeant with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and longtime school resource officer, told Spectrum News both students brought the weapons to school for protection against bullies, but will be charged with a felony for bringing the weapons to school.

In one instance last month, a 10-year-old girl at Minneola Elementary Charter School told police she stashed a kitchen knife inside a stuffed animal she carried in her backpack “for protection.” Days later, a South Lake High School student caught with a knife told police he “carried on a daily basis” to protect against bullies, according to the news site.

“Maybe that is something inside of them that they feel they need to, maybe it is a culture that says ‘I need to protect myself, I am looking out for me.’ But it is a dangerous one,” said Jones.  “If your kid is having a problem, they don’t feel comfortable coming in, please give the school resource officer or deputy a call. Talk to them, and let us address it.”

Jones pointed to the district’s SpeakOut hotline, coordinated through the Central Florida Crimeline, as one way students can report bullying and remain anonymous. Students can also text “speakout” to 274637 or use the P3 Campus App to make reports, Jones said.

School and sheriff’s officials posted a message about National Bullying Prevention Month on the district’s Facebook page as well to remind families of the consequences of bullying in Lake County schools.

“Many times, bullying is directly related to comments or actions threatening our schools. A threat or even a joke about shooting up the school is not cool. Children will be prosecuted and suspended immediately pending a threat assessment by school administration,” according to the Facebook post.

“Bullying, including cyber-bullying, will not be tolerated in Lake County Schools. Have a talk with your kids and make sure they understand that we have a zero-tolerance concerning threats to our schools and students.”

Crafting a coherent anti-bullying message is an important component of effective moral education that’s not as easy as it seems, according to researchers with the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.

“This failure to provide a fully developed and broadly coherent moral message was partly due to public school teachers’ reluctance to opine on controversial issues,” Institute founder James Davison Hunter wrote in “The Content of Their Character”

Often, educators simply avoid “providing serious direction on what was right and what was wrong,” Hunter wrote.

Officials in Lake County Schools clearly understand the important role educators play in keeping kids safe and conveying important messages about character. The SpeakOut hotline is one of several ways educators in the district are going beyond talk to put the message into action.

The SpeakOut website offers more information about the three different ways of reporting bullying through the program, which is tailored to students in elementary, middle and high schools.