Posted 3:49 PM 1/4/2012 : School districts want safe havens for bullied kids
A new effort to stop bullying in Pueblo is going beyond the playground. Pueblo City Schools is launching a new anti-bullying program that would involve many business owners in the community. The stores would act as safe havens to help protect bullied kids.
Walking to and from school your children may be vulnerable to bullies. "It's not going to go away without all of us coming together to do some work," said Maria Fieth, project manager for the Safe and Healthy Schools Initiative at Pueblo City Schools.
Pueblo City Schools is reaching out to the business community for help. Business partners would put a poster in their window letting bullied kids know it's a safe place to find refuge. "If a child comes in or a student comes in and say hey I've got a problem I'm being bullied, may I wait here while my parents come to get me," said Fieth.
Convenience stores, restaurants, retailers--the businesses would act as a safe haven until parents or police arrive. "We're not asking them to intervene in the behavior," said Fieth.
The district hopes to partner with 10 business near every city school, creating roughly 350 safe havens.
On Tuesday, district-70 in the county voted to start the program near their schools. However, they don't have as many options. "We don't have that Loaf N Jug or 7-Eleven that's right next to our schools so what our job--what will be a challenge is identifying these safe haven locations for the rural school district," said Ted Ortiviz, D-70 School Board Member.
There's zero tolerance for bullying in schools and now a call to the community to join forces. "Our kids need to understand that all of the adults in their lives are here to help them," said Fieth.
The school district will be contacting business owners soon and hope to have the program launched in a few months.