Archive for Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lawrence schools implementing anti-bullying messages

One Lawrence school employee says that the numbers may show that people are just more aware of the issue.

June 9, 2010


In 2010, seven of every 10 participants of a Kansas middle school and high school survey saw someone bullied at least once a month at school.

Nearly one-third of those sixth-, eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders said they were bullied themselves at least monthly.

And 30 percent of those Kansas students said they would ignore bullying if they saw it.

Kansas State Board of Education members at 10:15 a.m. today are scheduled to receive an update about efforts of school districts to deal with bullying. It’s in response to a 2008 state requirement that all districts put policies and practices in place to address bullying behavior.

School district administrators say efforts to ramp up awareness about bullying in schools — in Lawrence and elsewhere — have brought the issue to the attention of students and parents.

“The more you bring something to the forefront and identify what it is you may be seeing, you’re going to get more people saying this is going on,” said Kevin Harrell, the Lawrence district’s division director of student intervention services.

Prior to 2008 some Lawrence schools already implemented bullying prevention and intervention programs. The district began to put more policies in place to address things like cyberbullying, where students use computer and social networking accounts to harass other students. Each school was also required to develop and implement its own policies to address bullying.

Sunflower School, 2521 Inverness Drive, had an anti-bullying initiative in place before the state mandate.

Lisa Mason, the PTO president, said Sunflower’s guidance counselor, administrators and teachers work kids through bullying awareness programs. Posters are up in the hallway to reiterate the policy among students that bullying is an ongoing harmful behavior where one student seeks power over another.

Mason saw the system in action a couple of years ago when her son and other students had recurring problems with another student. He would constantly kick in the stall on students trying to use the restroom. The student didn’t stop the behavior after reprimands from teachers and administrators — until the school notified his parents.

“Once you get the parents involved, I think it helps a lot,” Mason said.

Bob Harrington, a Kansas University professor of psychology and research in education who teaches a class about anti-bullying initiatives, said his students found during the 2008-2009 school year that many Kansas schools had terse definitions of bullying in their policies. He said their plans for dealing with bullying were often too reliant on suspensions, which is less effective for curbing the behavior.

“The best approach to bullying is to teach skills and to deal with problem solving,” Harrington said.

He lauded the Lawrence and De Soto districts for their schoolwide policies and character education programs that involve parents, teachers and students.

The overall number of bullying incidents are likely leveling off, but the problems seem to be getting more severe in their intensity, Harrington said. Schools have also had to adjust to deal with cyberbullying.

“Now this could go on 24 hours a day with texting and YouTube, and some kids will actually organize it so that it goes on 24-7,” Harrington said.

Seungyeon Lee, a KU doctoral student and Harrington’s graduate teaching assistant, said students who are learning English as their second language can be prone to bullying because they won’t always understand their classroom environment.

“Teachers and principals have to be really careful to what they’re doing,” she said. “The best way is to make students be part of a community.”

During their meeting today in Topeka, state board members will hear about possible next steps.

Harrell said Lawrence school administrators will continue to monitor data and review schools’ plans to see where they can make adjustments.

“We have to look at the emotional and mental health of our students,” he said. “When you look at the media and things that have happened, it’s something we have to take seriously. We really need to support students and help them find their voice and help them feel safe at school.”


consumer1 7 years, 11 months ago

There was a time when there were anti bullies at public schools. Those anti bullies would see a wrong being committed/ bullying and he/she would intervene. That prevented the smaller weaker children from much bullying. However, now in schools, when a courageous student steps forward to take on the bully and do what teachers should be doing, the courageous student is punished just like the bully. I have seen teachers stand by in panic mode when a child is being beaten by a bully. I know, I know. They are affraid of liability. Ha ha. That is a made up excuse because the reality is they are just affraid to get involved. This liberal agenda teaches kids that agression for any reason is wrong. Completely ignoring the ideal for which the courageous kid is trying to stand for. Our school system is raising yet another generation of confused, disoriented, victims. Now add the hypocrisy of school athletics. We are teaching agression for any reason is wrong... That is except school sanctioned agression. Oh! that we approve of. If you put on a uniform and are very agressive you are rewarded and put on a pedistal. Hmmmm?

Is anyone surpised that we have bullies who feel they can do anything they want to at school? Can you say mixed messages?? for what does money sound familiar??

avoice 7 years, 11 months ago

What they are afraid of is losing their own popularity. Today's bullies are not thugs. They are, largely, the most popular and most athletic kids in the schools. And everyone wants to be like them and be liked by them. Until we start to realize that the kids who are "leaders" in our schools are actually the ones modeling the bully behaviors, this is all going nowhere. Their parents are the best volunteers in PTO, their teachers love them, and so none of the adults believe these kids are engaging in bullying behaviors.

Emily Hampton 7 years, 11 months ago

I have to agree with consumer1. Obviously there needs to be an awareness of extreme bullying, and some action has to take place. But I have seen the list of what is considered "bullying behavior" and it's totally absurd. As it is, kids can basically be threatened to be put on a bullying list and made to feel awful about themselves simply for leaving another kid out of a game. I'm sorry, but welcome to the real world. We can't always be included in everything. We can't force people to be our friends. We need to be teaching kids the skills to stick up for themselves and handle rejection. Coddling kids through school isn't giving them any power or tools to deal with real life. Focus on the extreme cases, and stop creating anxiety for other kids who are constantly afraid of getting in trouble for normal kid behavior.

Shardwurm 7 years, 11 months ago

Generally I agree with you. But what you don't take into consideration is that not all children have the coping ability to tolerate whatever level of abuse they're subject to. My son was a victim of long-term abuse in the school system and his mental make-up couldn't handle it. We were unaware of most of the problems until it came to a head. His teachers ignored it. When he went to them for help they told him to quit being a whiner. Some of the worst offenders were given nominal punishment. The school system is the first to tell you that they know what's best for your child. Epic Fail in my case. Fortunately my son is now 21 and doing well, but there was a time when we didn't know if he'd make it. All of it stemmed from the abuse he got at school. So the question is - would his life have been worth it to give up in order to make sure we didn't go too far?

Emily Hampton 7 years, 11 months ago

I see your point--but to me that is an extreme case. I don't know what type of abuse he was having to put up with, but if it continued all through school, that's definitely a case that should be dealt with. I do understand that some kids can handle remarks or rejection better than others. I just have the other perspective, which was that my daughter and her friend (9 yr. old girls) left out another girl a couple of times, and the teacher had my daughter literally thinking she might go to jail someday if she kept it up. She was totally paranoid and thought every time there was a little conflict, she was on her way to the bully list that gets sent to the state. So I just think we have to take into consideration how these rules effect the psychological development of both parties.

akt2 7 years, 11 months ago

I liked it when we were in orientation and the principal of the school talked to the kids about bullying. He told them that the staff watched for this, and they knew what to look for and how it happens. He went on to tell them that it would not be tolerated at any level. He told them that he would go to their classes and take anyone and everyone involved out of class to get to the bottom of a bullying incident. There are also methods set up to anonymously identiy a bully or anyone being bullied. It's not a problem in the school because the staff deals with it head on. There is no beating around the bush. It is all straight forward. You do this, this is what will happen.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 11 months ago

" It's not a problem in the school because the staff deals with it head on. " akt2: Good point. Bullying is a crime, often assault, sometimes battery; at times sexual or racial harassment. Legislators like passing laws like this, to repeat what is already illegal. Doesn't cost them any money (that's the school's problem) and creates the illusion of concern for youth while the cut budgets. If the teachers are on top of it, that's good and they are doing their job. Staff who do not intervene assume some personal risk to their fortune and their professional license, but I think most are trying to do the right thing. This issue is as old as Cain and Abel, but we do need to work on it. Sadly, the new digital world, on the LJW and elsewhere, provides even more subtle opportunities to bully and harass. As I said, good point.

Clickker 7 years, 11 months ago

Today, some of the worst bullying is done online or via texts And its not just girls, not just "mean girls". Alot of middle school kids simply cant handle the technology, and use it for bullying whether on purpose or inadvertantly. Parents need to monitor facebook and texts. Kids that post "Hey look at me, I'm hanging out with Stevie, and Bob, and Anthony" are effectively bullying those not included. Yes, kids need to handle rejection ( and not being included), but to broadcast it is simply a power play. Kids also use texting to spread rumors or harrass other students, and they can do it anonymously by blocking their identities and the phone companies for the most part dont allow users to block anonymous calls or texts. Bottom line...parents need to get involved with their kids online lives.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 11 months ago

Clickker: Also a good point. The technology leapfrogs our ability to cope as parents and educators. Kids are living in the digital world and there is no turning back. Privacy issues are of interest, to parents and to schools, but clearly, parents need to know what is going on and need to try and control the technology as they can. For starters, no sleeping with the laptop or the phone. Some kids (and adults) are sleeping fitfully, waking up through the night to check their digital accounts. We have great challenges ahead dealing with these new realities, in school and at home. Your bottom line is right on; in the old days, when a kid got sent to their room, they were alone with their thoughts; now, depending on the technologies allowed at home, children may have more fun in there than the parents can imagine.

dragonfly0221 7 years, 11 months ago

Teachers can be bullies too. There is no way for a child being bullied by a teacher to report it, and when other teachers admitt to seeing it they turn the other cheek.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 11 months ago

The law prohibits teachers from bullying other teachers, students or anyone else. It doesn't apply just to children. "Staff members who bully others in violation of this policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension pending a hearing and/or termination. If appropriate, staff members who violate the bullying prohibition shall be reported to local law enforcement." ==== Article 82.--ORGANIZATION, POWERS AND FINANCES OF BOARDS OF EDUCATION 72-8256. Bullying, school district policies. (a) As used in this section: (1) "Bullying" means: (A) Any intentional gesture or any intentional written, verbal, electronic or physical act or threat that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment for a student or staff member that a reasonable person, under the circumstances, knows or should know will have the effect of: (i) Harming a student or staff member, whether physically or mentally; (ii) damaging a student's or staff member's property; (iii) placing a student or staff member in reasonable fear of harm to the student or staff member; or (iv) placing a student or staff member in reasonable fear of damage to the student's or staff member's property; (B) cyberbullying; or (C) any other form of intimidation or harassment prohibited by the board of education of the school district in policies concerning bullying adopted pursuant to this section or subsection (e) of K.S.A. 72-8205, and amendments thereto. ======= Ths standards are pretty high, and just 'being mean' or calling someone a name once is not bullying. If, however, your kid is getting bullied by adults or other children, do what you would do in your own the cops if no one else will help you.

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