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Peer court kids visit elementary schools

by Christina Nelson

Hoping to stop bullying and intimidation before it becomes an even bigger problem, members of the Douglas High School Peer Court spoke to 5th and 6th graders at area elementary schools this week.

They spoke about the purpose of the peer court and about the new safety number, 783-SAFE, that was unveiled earlier this summer.

“I think it’s good to start now so if they need it, we can get it out there,” said Chelsea Rowe, 16, from the peer court.

They didn’t talk to lower grades about the hotline because the peer court decided the younger grades wouldn’t take it seriously or they might abuse the hotline, said Lauren Hayes, also a member of the peer court.

The two DHS juniors spent Thursday morning speaking in classrooms at C.C. Meneley Elementary School and Friday talking to principals at Scarselli and Jacks Valley elementary schools.

Lisa Bytheway, a 6th grade teacher at C.C. Meneley, said the hotline will help kids of this age, even though they seem young.

“I think it provides kids with an outlet where they don’t have to go to an adult,” Bytheway said.

“What we’ve been having is a rash of rock throwing. I’ve heard of three or four instances at bus stops, on the way to school,” she said. “It’s stuff that’s been going on forever but we’re just not tolerating it anymore.”

Some of the classes weren’t very curious about the hotline, but some had lots of questions about if their name would be used if they called the hotline, or what they could report.

Hayes and Rowe made it clear that any student who calls the hotline will remain anonymous and that students can use it when they’re feeling intimidated or scared.

“I think it’s a good idea, said Jennifer Koenig, 11, a 6th grader at C.C. Meneley. “That way if anybody has a problem with a bully or something, they don’t have to keep it inside of them and they can have it solved.”

“I think it’s a good idea because people should feel safe in Douglas County without people bullying them or getting beat up,” said Chris Garren, 11, a 6th grader at C.C. Meneley. “You shouldn’t have to feel bullied against when you’re a kid.”

Peer court members will speak in middle school classrooms once the school year begins and hope to get similar programs started in Carson Valley and Pau-Wa-Lu middle schools.

“A lot of them want to start their own peer court so we’re going to be going over there and talk to them, and (about) the hotline too,” Hayes said.

The peer court is made up of about 20 high school students. If a student gets in trouble at school, they can choose to be suspended or have a trial in front of the peer court, where their peers decide on their punishment.