Laurens Co. Sheriff’s Office creates program to curb intimidation and bullying

LAURENS, SC (FOX Carolina) –

After numerous complaints from parents, Laurens County Sheriff’s office is working with Laurens School District 55 on a program to curb bullying.

On Thursday, parents shared with FOX Carolina several videos of students involved in aggressive physical altercations. They said bullying is a problem that has gotten out of hand. Many parents said they are thinking about transferring their children to a different school.

Sheriff Reynolds said he heard many stories from students, but recent news of an 11-year-old South Carolina girl turning a gun on herself, really struck a chord.

Reynolds is pushing for changes in his own county, and putting deputies in schools, to bring students the help they need.

Sheriff Reynolds said the initiative is called “CAT,” which stands for “Changing Attitudes Together.” You’ll see the program on every school level, from elementary to high school.

“So many parents, even today, have called me and want to set up meetings,” said the sheriff. “I want to talk and they’re at their rope’s end because they say sooner or later something ugly is going to happen.”

One parent, Wendy Polson, said she just doesn’t know where to turn anymore. Her concern is her daughter.

“I’m at the point where my kid doesn’t want to go to school, and comes home crying,” said Polson. “She doesn’t want to come for a year and a half.”

Her daughter Madison is in the fourth grade and already, she’s dealing with bullies.

“These officers are going to try and help these kids understand that there are ways to deal with problems,” Reynolds explained.

Officers will be giving advice to students in classrooms and during one-on-one time. Their purpose is to give the students an understanding of where they can turn if an issue arises.

“Let them see you watch down the halls…let yourself be seen,” said Reynolds. “Because the more you’re seen, the more comfort they feel, the more they’re open minded and raise their hand and speak out.”

The Sheriff will be meeting with more parents Friday to listen to their concerns and hopefully learn more so that he can add the CAT program.

As the program gets underway, there will be 2 officers in the classrooms to start with. The CAT program will replace the current D.A.R.E. program and starts at Hickory Tavern School next Tuesday.

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