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D.A.R.E. officer David Potkonicki addressed third-grade students at Austintown Intermediate School on Oct. 29 for the end of Bullying Prevention Month.

Austintown Intermediate School celebrated Bullying Prevention Month with the help of D.A.R.E. The school offered three assemblies for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders led by D.A.R.E. officer David Potkonicki geared towards helping students understand and prevent bullying.

“Now is the age to address this,” Potkonicki said. “If you get a handle on it now it can help prevent greater issues later.”

Potkonicki said that his presentation aimed to help children understand what bullying actually is, identifying different types and how to prevent it.

“It’s that repeated unwanted aggressive behavior that constitutes bullying,” Potkonicki said. “It can take many different forms.”

During the presentation, Potkonicki outlined for students the difference between direct and indirect bullying, and how both of those differ from just joking with a friend.

“The difference is I am not happy about the jokes. If I am not joking back and I look upset, or maybe I’m crying, that’s bullying,” he said.

Potkonicki explained that direct bullying is something that happens when the bully is face to face with the person, but indirect bullying can be less obvious.

Indirect bullying, according to Potkonicki, can be starting rumors, making fun of someone behind their back, and be both on and off the internet.

Potkonicki also addressed the concept of tattling versus telling, and how if a student has serious concerns about bullying its always okay to tell a trusted adult.

He identified a number of possible adults, including teachers, staff at the school, police and event the students doctor.

“It’s important they know how to get help in this situation, incase anything does happen to them,” Potkonicki said.

He used the 5 W’s—who, what, when, where and why—to help students understand what information the adult they are telling about the bullying needs to help stop it.

“Today’s assembly is really important,” said AIS Principal Angel Owens.

She said the school works hard throughout the month of October to talk with students about bullying and to address any issues they might be facing.

“It’s a good way to end the month of bullying prevention awareness,” Owens said.

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