Pueblo City Schools is spearheading a Safe Haven Program that will give students a place outside of school to turn to if they are being bullied or feel unsafe.
D60 is working on getting local businesses near schools to volunteer to act as a safe haven for students in need. They will place a poster that displays a bulldog and says “No Bullying Zone” in their window, signifying to students that they are there to help.
"If students are walking home from school and they are being bullied or harassed or feel endangered, the students will see a poster in the window. They can pop into that business and that community business owner will help that child make a phone call to home, or help them find an adult that can come pick them up,” said Randy Evetts, Project Director for the Safe Schools Healthy Students Initiative.
The Safe Haven program was developed from the Safe Schools Healthy Students Initiative. Project Director Randy Evetts says the program has been in the works for about six months.
It has not yet been implemented, but they hope to have it up and running early this year. It could begin as early as February.
Evetts says they are still trying to secure partners and get local businesses on board.
D60 officials say they know that students are bullied in a variety of ways and in a variety of places. They hope to address bullying in all facets.
“We know that it doesn’t just stop at the school doors and it doesn’t just start at the school doors. The idea with this is really a community engagement effort. So wherever the students are they have someone to depend on,” said Evetts. He adds, “If they are at school they can contact a teacher, adult, friend or sibling. But if they are on their way home, by themselves, or they need help they have a business owner to turn to.”
Evetts says it’s a great way for the community to get involved in the lives of students and a way they can help keep them safe.
D60 asked D70 to become a partner. D70’s school board will vote Tuesday night on whether they will secure their spot as a partner.
Both school districts hope by having all of Pueblo County involved in this effort, that they can not only offer support for students, but could help minimize bullying in the community.
Evetts says he understands that bullying crosses boundaries, and says that getting the entire county on board will send a widespread message that bullying is something that will not be tolerated.
“We know that children who are bullied or who do not feel safe, often become disengaged from school, may have mental health issues, or do not have great success in the classroom sometimes because of that. So by creating a community effort that is easy to get involved with, we hope that the community will come behind us and help us reduce the amount of bullying in our schools and neighborhoods, “said Evetts.
The program will not cost business owners a cent. The districts will make the posters and distribute them.
As soon as partners have secured their partnership and approved the poster with their logo on it, students will go out in the community and talk to local business owners about bullying and how they can help students.
They hope to have the program in place the next few months.
For more information or to learn how to get involved, contact Pueblo City Schools at 719-549-7100.