Clayton Elementary Looks to Stop Bullying with Buddy Bench - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Clayton Elementary Looks to Stop Bullying with Buddy Bench

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CLAYTON, Del.- Bullying is a problem in schools across the nation and Delmarva is no exception. One school in Kent County is using a unique system to address the growing problem.

Clayton Elementary School now uses a “Buddy Bench” to get kids interacting with one another.

"The buddy bench was implemented as a way to deal with playground exclusion,” said Wilmington University intern, Dina Samonte. “Playground exclusion is something that seems to be a big issue in elementary schools."

The rule of the Buddy Bench is simple. If someone is sitting on the Buddy Bench, students must ask them to play.

“I think it helps people not be alone and play,” said 4th grade student, Bradley Evans.

“I think it’s a great way to help people who don’t have friends make friends,” said another 4th grader, Rosie Arnold.

Samonte came up with the idea as a part of her intervention project, which was a requirement for her Masters Degree.

Even if the kid sitting on the bench is not very action or does not want to play any of the physical activities, there is a Buddy Box that sits right next to bench. The Buddy Box is filled with other toys and games the kids can use to interact and play with one another.

School counselor, Gayle Bernhard though the idea was a great way to get the students talking about bullying in a different light.

"We spend a lot of time talking about what bullying is and how we can overcome it. But we never really talk about the positives sides and what happens to stop it before it even happens,” said Bernhard. “I thought it was a great idea.”

To decorate the Buddy Bench and put up signs around the school for the new system, the school brought together different students who were already dealing with social issues. They brought together some students who may be shy and others who may be more aggressive. The purpose was to bring together students who may not otherwise interact with one another were now bonding over starting up this new system.

“We kind of did a mixture of students,” said Samonte. “They were eager to get started. They were excited to make posters. They were excited to paint. They were all ready to go.”

Although the Buddy Bench has only been in place for a few weeks, both Bernhard and Samonte agree they can already see its effect on the students.

"It’s taught them a sense of responsibility,” said Bernhard. “We have a responsibility to get to know those people that we're working with that we're in school with everyday."

Everyone is hopeful the Buddy Bench will eventually lead to less bullying and more friendships at Clayton Elementary.

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