NAMPA, Idaho — October is National Bullying Prevention Month and the pandemic has created some new reasons kids experience bullying.
A local family said their kids faced bullying because they were wearing masks at a school, where masks are optional.
Masks are not required for students at several local school districts, including Nampa School District, where this family lives.
Sarah Lethcoe said she wanted her kids to wear a mask when the school year started because she was concerned about her two-year-old son catching COVID-19.
“They were doing good for the first few days or so and then started the bullying,” she said.
Sarah says she didn’t try to talk to the school about what was going on, instead, the kids stopped wearing their masks at school and the problem went away.
“They just kind of quite wearing them because I don’t want them to feel isolated and bullied,” she said.
Nampa School District said they aren’t aware of mask bullying in any of their schools.
Dr. Wayne Pernell, a clinical psychologist, said there are some tools anyone can use if they're experiencing bullying, whether it’s mask-related or not.
For namecalling he said, “If they called you purple-spotted mongoose you would say, well that makes no sense to me.”
He said if the name fits, wear it proudly, but if not--remember they’re just words.
Pernell also recommended another idea that can help someone experiencing bullying, “The phrase, I choose this. “oh well, you’re wearing a mask you must be scared.” I choose this.”