A school district rocked by a serious case of bullying is now tackling the problem head-on, after two of its students were charged with assault and sexual misconduct.
It's been a tough school year for students at Hardin Central High School in Hardin, MO.
Two high school students are facing charges of sexual assault while at the school. But Thursday, the district offered a special course that's designed for the students as well as the parents.
The Hardin School District is doing something possibly never seen before - spending an entire school day with every student in the district talking about bullying.
Two teenage Hardin Central students were arrested and charged with allegations of sexual assault earlier this month, with those alleged incidents happening in the school locker room.
Thursday the district brought in a group called Heroes in Action to talk to students about bullying and the effect of bullying in school. It's a program that every student in the district attended throughout the day, and it's also one parents are encouraged to attend at night.
The group held a parents-only meeting at the school Thursday evening to reach out to them about bullying and what they can do to help.
District Superintendent Marty Griffin said it's critical to get the message out to these kids.
"Growing up is tough and having the confidence to stand up for yourself and having the tools to be able to stand up for others is very important, and this program was witnessed by my high school principal and my high school councilor," Griffin said. "They thought it would be good, they contacted the committee and got it set up."
Parents started filing into Hardin about 5:30 p.m., all wanting to know what they can do to help. The meeting Thursday night was all about moving forward and trying to find a way to stop bullying before it escalates.
"Be able to recognize the signs of being a victim. Also being brave enough to stand up for yourself, but also the main thing is to get others to stand up for others and just education. The more knowledge we have the stronger we become," Griffin said.
It's a tough topic and a tough conversation to talk about, but so far the students are listening.
"So far it seems like the students have enjoyed it. I haven't talked with any parents yet, but my administrators have sat in on the morning programs and are thinking it's very beneficial," Griffin said.
Parents then met with a facilitator Thursday night. Parent Leslie McNelly said she was looking for better ways to talk to her kids about bullying.
The parents learned about standing up to bullies and being empowered. Parent David McGraw said he was glad to hear the tips.
Student Austin Taylor said he thought the teaching was effective. He said he learned tips about speaking out and standing up to bullies as well as watching out for each other.
To read previous coverage on the Hardin Central High School sexual assault allegations, click here.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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