With school starting again in August, some children will be the target of bullies.
Kids push and shove. They tease and gossip. They leave others out of playground games.
Bullying prevention programs are common at area schools, helping to teach kids how to avoid bullying behaviors and what to do if they find themselves a target.
Bullying first shows up in children as young as preschoolers, said SuEllen Fried, founder of BullySafeUSA (bullysafeusa.com). The problems peak in middle school and high school when kids start texting and use the Internet to tease classmates, Fried said.
To some, bullying may seem like innocent banter, but Fried called the behavior "peer-to-peer abuse."
"For too many generations we have sort of accepted the idea that bullying is a rite of passage and everyone has to go through it," Fried said. "We have to make it very clear that cruelty is not acceptable."
Districtwide programs, like Maize Way Character Education in Maize, are tackling the problem using monthly themes like friendship and compassion to train staff and students.
It's a preventive measure to keep kids safe and aware of the growing problem, said Nils Gabrielson, chairman of character education and bully prevention for Maize public schools.
"We like to take a proactive approach," he said.
"Our goal is to work it out so everybody finds success."
Tackling cyber-bullying — teasing and name calling using the Internet — is also a focus of school districts, said Stephanie Kertz, who works in the Wichita school district's safety services office.
But if Facebook posts and texting don't happen at school or don't hinder learning, it's up to parents to keep track of bullying and call police if needed.
"That's kind of a tough one for us because if it occurs outside of school, which a lot of electronic bullying does, there's a limit on what we can do," Kertz said.