TWIN FALLS - Children who are bullied live in fear of coming to school each day. They suffer in silence, afraid it will get worse if they say something or because they believe adults won't do anything about it.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adult Psychiatry, "some victims of bullying have even attempted suicide rather than continue to endure such harassment and punishment."
Students don't need to live in fear anymore at Robert Stuart Middle School. When a kid there is bullied, he or she can simply use the Bully Bucket. The school's resource officer and administrators review the forms that are submitted and confront the school's bullies face to face.
"I had gone to some training in reference to the topic of bullying," said Steven Gassert, the school's resource officer, who came up with the idea to have a bucket. "They said eight out of 10 kids don't report bullying because they feel like adults wouldn't do anything about it. It kind of got me thinking about giving students an outlet to report bullying."
With the anonymous nature of the bucket, students don't have to feel like tattletales or fear that others might know they filed a report.
The bucket, located inside the school library, has gotten results since it was installed in late February.
Gassert collects the forms at least once a day, sometimes more, and said there have been 125 reports of bullying at the school. Some of the most common forms are name-calling, being disrespectful and pushing students into lockers.
A lot of this surrounds "girl drama" at the school, said Principal Kasey Teske.
"I still don't understand girl drama," he said, noting that some girls are just downright mean to their peers.
Evelyn Mendoza, 13, said she's been bullied both at Robert Stuart and other schools. One student called her "stupid" and other names.
"I don't like to be called stupid," she said, "because I'm not."
Since the bucket was installed, however, she said she hasn't witnessed as much bullying at the school.
Maribel Moreno, 11, said she appreciates the anonymity of the forms dropped into the bucket. Students don't have to feel pinpointed as a snitch since they don't have to give their names, she said.
On the forms, students include the date, time and location of the incident, as well as the name of the person who bullied them, names of witnesses and how they were bullied.
If they witness bullying, they also may fill out a form for a friend or peer.
Teske said he doesn't want any student to feel anxious about coming to class. He'd prefer to have face-to-face meetings with students who don't get along, he said, but if that doesn't work, then turn to the bucket.
Don't fear, Gassert said. He and school administrators do review the forms.
"Students' voices will be heard," he said.
Evelyn Mendoza said she thinks other area schools, even elementary schools where she has witnessed bullying, should consider implementing the buckets because it's a way for students to express their fears and anxiety without being spotlighted.
It also helps build trust that adults do hear their complaints and will do something about them, she said.
"I think students would really appreciate this," she said. "There's a lot of bullying that happens at elementary schools."