Keith Deltano speaks at schools about bullying
Students at both Bastrop High School and Morehouse Jr. High attended assemblies this week where bullying was the topic of discussion.
Keith Deltano drew on his background of working with youth in various roles as well as his own personal experiences as a child who was bullied to engage students in a conversation regarding various ways of bullying. He also teaches them how to stop and overcome the effects of this serious problem. Deltano was labeled with ADD, ADHD, BEH, dyslexia and dysgraphia and was bullied because he was "different." Instead of letting his learning disabilities dictate his future, Deltano overcame, attended college and became a teacher.
"I wanted to take algebra in school and was told that class was just for students who would be attending college, and that I would not be," Deltano told the crowd. "It took me until I was 26 years old to realize the power that statement had over me."
Because of his own experiences as a student, Deltano made sure his classrooms were a bully-free zone. He began receiving calls from other schools to share his style and methods and from there, eventually began touring internationally as an educational comedian.
Keeping the students involved through comedy as well as role-playing, Deltano gave the message that no form bullying is okay.
"Value comes from individuality and we should never judge or bully anyone because of their appearance, clothing or race," Deltano said. "Normality is overrated. Don't let someone bully you into a box."
National statistics indicate that nearly one in three students are involved in bullying, which is no longer just face-to-face but is also over the internet or cell phone.
Bullying is defined as a pattern of written, electronic or verbal communications that threaten harm, obscene gestures, taunting or malicious teasing, persistent shunning or excluding a student or physical harm, such as hitting, pushing or damaging personal property.
According to the Louisiana Department of Education, under Act 861 enacted in 2012, school employees are required to participate in four hours of training to learn how to detect, prevent and end bullying. Teachers or other school personnel who receive a complaint about bullying must verbally notify the principal on the day of the incident and in writing within two days of the incident. The principal must notify parents and launch an investigation on the day of the incident. The investigation must be completed within 10 days. Along with this directive, Louisiana law is specific in the punishment of those found to be bullying others.
RS 17:416.13 states that the school official is to ..."Take prompt and appropriate disciplinary action, pursuant to R.S. 17:416 and 416.1, against the student that the school official determines has engaged in conduct which constitutes bullying, if appropriate. "Disciplinary action" means an expulsion or suspension from school for 10 or more consecutive school days or an assignment to an alternative educational setting for 10 or more consecutive school days in accordance with any policy of the school or of the local public school board...
"Bullies are cowards who want an emotional reaction," Deltano continued. "If they can put you down, it builds them up."
Also speaking at the assemblies was Rodney Anthony, who coaches football and track at MJH. He, along with teachers at Bastrop High School are beginning a campaign to mentor and help teenagers in the area. His story will appear in Thursday's edition of the Bastrop Enterprise.
For more information on Deltano, view his website at www.dontbullyonline.com.