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March 18, 2014 | 03:13 PM
FONTANA — To combat bullying, Fontana Elementary School is focusing on building resiliency.

District Administrator Sara Norton said she’s made learning about resiliency a priority this school year.

“We had a great speaker come to speak with our parents (March 4) about bullying, cyberbullying and building resiliency in our children, which is perhaps the best way we can combat issues surrounding bullying,” Norton said in an email March 12.

According to the American Psychological Association, resiliency is the “ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress.”

Along with the focus on resiliency, all fourth through eighth graders took an annual school safety survey, and the results showed students wanted “more vigilance (monitoring) during times in the hallways and (at) recess.”

The Regional News asked the district for the results of the safety survey in an open records request on March 7. Norton sent the complied survey results on March 12.

“For the most part, students reported bullying happening at school during non-classroom times ... Recess and time in the hallways were the most common themes,” the survey results state. “Anytime when (students) were out from under normal supervision or in larger numbers, students reported (bullying).”

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The American Psychological Association website states that resiliency can be learned. The website includes a list of ways to help children build resiliency.

“Teach your child how to make friends,” the website states. “Encourage your child to be a friend in order to get friends. Build a strong family network to support your child through his or her inevitable disappointments and hurts.”

Future planning, the association website states, helps build resiliency in children.

“Help (your child) see that there is a future beyond the current situation and that the future can be good,” the website states. “An optimistic and positive outlook enables your child to see the good things in life and keep going even in the hardest times.”

In the survey results, Norton said younger students in fourth and fifth grades “characterized bullying as being mean to one another.” Older students, from fifth to eighth grades, distinguished “bullying as repeated behavior ... consistent with the definition of bullying we use.”

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Administration reacts

In a recent newsletter to district parents, Norton asked parents to consider teaching children resiliency.

“Our world is filled with unknown challenges, disappointments and anxiety,” she said. “There just isn’t anyway around it ... No matter how much you love and try to protect and insulate your child, he or she will experience failure.”

Norton gave several examples of famous people who failed and tried again until they were successful.

“Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper for ‘lacking imagination’ and ‘having no original ideas,’” she said. “Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a news anchor because she ‘wasn’t fit for television.’”

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Norton said they had resiliency and tried again.

“They refused to listen to those who said ‘you can’t’ or ‘you don’t belong,’” Norton said. “In a world where our children are predicted to change careers on the average of seven times in their (lives) one of the greatest gifts we can give them is to let them fail, encourage them to stand up and brush themselves off.”

The true lesson children need to learn, she said, is the trying.

“The lesson for us (as parents is) to allow them to learn and grow from the things that don’t work out right away,” she said.

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