Mississippi school attacks bullying with education


By Charlotte A. Graham
Laurel Leader-Call
Editor’s Note: This is the third of a series of stories about the Lawrence County and Laurel school districts’ Safe School/Healthy Students project.

Laurel, Mississippi — If asked what a bully looks like, students from age four to 18 will probably describe someone who is bigger and stronger than they are.

But in today’s society, that is not always the case. While school bullies are most known for their ability to physically overpower others, mental bullying can be just as damaging to children. That’s one of the reasons mental health services is included in Lawrence County and Laurel school district’s Safe Schools/Healthy Students Project.

Funded through a $1 million grant from the federal Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative, the project unites the Lawrence County and Laurel school districts, Jones and Lawrence County Law Enforcement, Pine Belt Mental Healthcare and the Southwest Mental Health Complex in providing the most effective practices available in creating a safe place for children to live and attend school.

“We are pretty much the bullying intervention agent before things get out of hand,” said Jody McIntyre, Children’s Services Coordinator for the Southwest Mississippi Mental Health Complex in Lawrence County. “We really want to make schools safer environments.”

Others working in the mental health component of the grant are Dr. Steve Ellis, director of the Southwest Mississippi Mental Health Complex; Mona Gauthier, director of Child and Adolescent Services at Pine Belt Mental Health in Laurel; and Jeanine Boykin, Pine Belt’s school base administrator for Jones County. When necessary, they will also work with the sheriff’s and police departments and youth court judges in both Laurel and Lawrence counties. Full story.

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