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Sandy Journal

Respect at Center of Anti-Bullying Program Introduced at Silver Mesa Elementary

Oct 04, 2016 03:35PM ● By Julie Slama

Brett Lechtenberg teaches Silver Mesa first-graders to give two thumbs up when they understand signs of someone trying to bully them. (Julie Slama/My City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Silver Mesa first-grade students learned quickly not to interrupt and to say “yes, sir” as they repeated the signs of being bullied.

This fall, the elementary school teamed with Brett Lechtenberg, author of “The Anti-Bully Training Program,” a book with 13 training videos that provides a comprehensive program to teach children how to deal with a bullying situation and gives parents an action plan on how to work with teachers and schools.

Lechtenberg also owns Personal Mastery Martial Arts in Sandy and brings that training into teaching students.

“He looks at our rules and incorporates those in with anti-bully message, and respect is at the core,” Principal Julie Fielding said. “He also will include responsible, hands and feet to yourself, following directions the first time and be there and be ready as well as character education traits in the classrooms.”

Fielding said after teaching students how to recognize signs of being bullied, how to keep from being bullied and what to do if they are being bullied, Lechtenberg will come by the school monthly to award certificates to two students in each classroom who demonstrate positive behavior and character education traits. The certificate also will include a uniform and two months of sessions at his martial arts studio.

“It’s not a huge problem, but bullying does happen here as it does in all schools. They’re kids. There’s name-calling and we’ve even had a case of cyberbullying. We want to be proactive and teach students that they can make good decisions and not fall into peer pressure,” Fielding said.

At the sessions, students learned that bullies want to make them scared.

“Bullies want to control you, so you need to learn to control your fear,” Lechtenberg said to the students. “If you don’t do anything and stay quiet, the bully gets to keep bullying you, so ask for help. Don’t be confused. You need to know what to do.” 

He used the example of Eeyore from “Winnie-the-Pooh” to demonstrate to the first-graders someone bullies could target.

“If you slouch, roll your shoulders forward, hang your head down, like Eeyore, you could become a target of bullying as people think you’re weak and confused,” he said about someone portraying a sad, negative attitude with low energy. “If you keep your head up, shoulders back and smile, your body is saying, ‘I’m proud, positive and have confidence.’”

Even though that will help, Lechtenberg said that bullies pick their targets at random, perhaps if something is different about one student compared to others — glasses, a watch, the color of the shirt.

“The main way bullies pick their target at your age is the same way they do at my age — just by random. But if we learn how to become positive and portray that image, it will reduce our chances of becoming targets and reduce a lot of problems in life,” he said. He reminded students that they are only a victim if they let someone get away with bullying them.

He encouraged students to seek help if there is a problem — to never keep it a secret or be embarrassed, because it’s not their fault. He also said that even if they’re threatened, they should seek help from an adult they can trust.

Lechtenberg said when faced with the situation, students need to remain in control and never become aggressive.

“I teach self-defense and kickboxing so this is my passion — to empower people. I want students to know what to do so they’re in control, have self-respect and respect for those around them. I want these students to be empowered so they can send a clear message of that,” he said.

Lechtenberg also teaches the free anti-bullying program at Grace Lutheran School in Sandy and at Butler and Ridgecrest Elementaries in Cottonwood Heights.  

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