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School apologizes for advising bullying victims not to ‘tattle,’ or be a ‘sore loser’

Friday, April 18, 2014
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Bullying advice to fifth grade students at Zeman Elementary School in Lincoln, Neb.

Bullying advice to fifth grade students at Zeman Elementary School in Lincoln, Neb.

LINCOLN, Neb. — A Nebraska school district is apologizing after sending fifth grade students home with a pamphlet titled “Turning bullies into buddies,” advising bullying victims not to “tattle” on their attackers, and not to be a “sore loser.”

Flabbergasted parents called it “the worst advice any person could give to another,” and said they were “horrified” by its contents.

The flyer, distributed by Zeman Elementary School, contained the following “rules:”

  • Refuse to get mad
  • Treat the person who is being mean as if they are trying to help you
  • Do not be afraid
  • Do not verbally defend yourself
  • Do not attack
  • If someone physically hurts you, just show you are hurt; do not get angry
  • Do not tell on bullies
  • Don’t be a sore loser
  • Learn to laugh at yourself and not get “hooked” by put-downs

Lincoln Public Schools Communications Director Mary Kay Roth said the flyer was not approved to be sent home and was inadvertently included in folders that were sent home to parents, reported the Lincoln Journal Star.

“It’s a staff issue, so we’re taking care of the staffing error,” Roth said, who declined to elaborate on the source of the flyer.

Zeman Principal Donna Williams sent an electronic message to families apologizing for the flyer, and a follow-up letter to parents said it “was sent home with good intentions, unfortunately, it contained advice that did not accurately reflect LPS best practices regarding response to bullying incidents.”

Roth said Zeman teachers will talk to all fifth-graders to clarify how the district believes students should handle bullying.

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