Magna elementary school uses ‘buddy benches’ to battle bullying

MAGNA, Utah — Recess is many students favorite time of day, but for those who feel teased or left out, it's the worst.

"You don’t want to be lonely, and so you need to have friends," said fifth-grade student Cael Sandquist.

"When you don’t have a friend or sister or anything, you can't laugh together like we do," said  third-grade student Catelyn Hurst.

Brett Bawden, the principal at Magna Elementary, said bullying is the number one complaint they hear from parents, teachers and students.

"We have kids who feels so picked on that they literally can’t get out of bed sometimes to come to school because they are so anxious about what’s going to happen to them when they’re here," Bawden said.

This is why staff held a ribbon cutting Thursday for four buddy benches, built with money raised by local businesses.

"Where students can come sit if they’re feeling teased or picked on or left out," Bawden said, "and another student, if they know that someone is sitting on the bench, would come over and invite them to come play."

Bawden said they encourage students to be brave by admitting they need a friend, and also by being one.

"When you need a buddy, be brave and do it," Catelyn said.

"Kids like that. Kids like when we tell them, 'You’re brave. You're courageous,' they’re like, 'Yes, I am,'" Bawden said.

School leader say they hope the actions inspired by the Buddy Benches on the playground will carryover to how student treat one another all the time.

"And I went over on the bench, and he said that he’ll be my friend," Cael said.

"Teachers are pointing out that there’s...good feelings, and that can happen every time you help someone else out," Bawden said. "That’s contagious."