Waihee Elementary School stands firm against bullying

WAIHEE (HawaiiNewsNow) – The entrance to Waihee Elementary School has a bright sign for a bold message.

“Orange is really symbolic because it means warmth and invitation. It’s a very attractive color as well as safety, protection,” said Waihi Elementary School Principal Paula Inoue.

All students came to school on Wednesday for “Unity Day” wearing orange. It is part of National Violence Prevention Month.

“As students get older, we have higher rates of suicide, we have higher rates of depression, and we have all of that. So we want to make sure we get them now while they’re young,” said second grade teacher Dawn Kahaleha.

According to the latest CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 2019, about 13% of Maui school children have attempted suicide in the past 12 months. About 13% of Maui County high school students also admitted to having attempted suicide at least once. Primary school students are not asked these questions in the survey.

However, teachers and staff at Waihi Elementary School say it’s important to create a safe environment for students at an early age.

“We solve our problems with kind words, we don’t use our hands or feet to solve our problems,” Waihi Elementary School counselor Mile Viela said during a school-wide lesson on the importance of kindness.

“At our school, we don’t bully,” Viela told students in class.

“It makes people sad and hurt when people bully them,” said fifth grader Kapo Ugale.

For 10-year-old Capo Ugale, the solution is simple.

“We need to stop bullying because it allows people to feel better about themselves and not be hurt by bullies anymore and it also helps schools to have happier children and that makes everyone happy,” Ugale said.

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