Six Kountze Middle School’s student-coaches signed an anti-bullying pledge at a community signing ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 6.
“In January, we students will begin a 10-week ‘Coaching Boys Into Men’ program,” student-coach Hayden Holland said, adding the ‘no bullying’ message will go from the locker room to the classroom.
Boys Into Men is a code of conduct program to stop bullying before it escalates in aggression to sexual harassment or dating violence.
Bullying’s detrimental effect is widely understood and KMS Principal John Ferguson says he believes the pilot program will help to stop harassment before it becomes a habit.
“We are trying to change the behavior before it is a problem. Most programs are geared for high school and college, and that’s too late,” he said.
Texas Representative James White, present for the signing, also took the pledge saying “it’s important to set a standard as elected officials. I credit the staff and educators at KMS to set the climate early and change the culture.”
Five boys and one girl eighth-grade student-coaches will bring their anti-sexual harassment message to other students.
The words of student-coach Sterling Tate “I want to be a leader and a role model,” were echoed by his classmate Demond Hamilton, who said, “I want to be a good person to get that message across to others.”
Student-coach Courtney Edwards says the program needs to target girls as well, because “it’s not okay to hit or harass.” Each student-coach will take their message to younger students.
Boys Into Men was introduced by volunteer coordinator Cindy Fertitta, who chose the Kountze ISD as part of a Texas-based bullying prevention program.
“It started back in 2010 as the "Texas State Plan to End Sexual Violence" through a federal grant facilitated by the Texas State Attorney Generals office spearheaded by The Honorable Governor Greg Abbott,” she said.
The program curriculum is student-driven, “it’s their understanding in their own language. Something they can pass off to the next eighth class,” Fertitta said.
Bullying is not okay: “it’s a choice, and it’s a bad choice,” she said, adding that bullying is cut short when people treat each other with honor and respect.