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Ogdensburg students learn about bullying

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The Ogdensburg City School district, in an ongoing effort to combat bullying, invited Kelly A. Zinna, a forensic psychologist who works just outside Washington D.C., to speak at Madill and Kennedy Elementary schools about the harm bullying can do.

Ms. Zinna spoke to students in multiple sessions throughout the day on Monday and again Tuesday morning.

Ms. Zinna, who is originally from Ogdensburg, was on the scene of the 1999 Columbine massacre and has been active in anti-violence advocacy.

“If you look at school place violence, bullying is one of the causes,” she said Tuesday.

By giving anti-violence and anti-bullying talks at schools around the country, Ms. Zinna said, she hopes her message helps shift the culture at each school she visits.

“Twenty-eight million school days a year are missed due to bullying in the United States,” she said, adding that students will frequently skip school out of fear.

Fear, said Ms. Zinna, is the crucial factor that enables bullying to persist.

“[Students] are just so afraid to break through that peer code of silence,” she said.

Yet it’s important for students to report bullying when it happens, said Ms. Zinna.

She said her message is one of personal responsibility.

“It’s all up to you,” she tells students, asking them what sort of school they want: one where bullying is common or one where respect is the norm.

Ms. Zinna said she was impressed with the “Bully Box” at Kennedy Elementary school.

Ogdensburg City School Board Member Betty J. Mallott said the box is where students “can drop reports in if they are being bullied.”

Ms. Zinna said the box, importantly, is anonymous. This empowers students to report when they see a problem without fearing repercussions.

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