Area schools determined to wipe out bullying

Bullying pic

It is the one thing that has been around for many years and as hard as people try to escape it, bullying will be a part of the future as well. However, local educators are striving to combat the issues surrounding bullying.

“We work hard to create an overall climate of respect, tolerance and kindness,” said Richard Briggs, Bridge City High School Principal.

He stated when those things are done, then it will help with bullying issues.

Bullying is so prevalent throughout society today, at every age level, that it sends a message that it’s socially accepted; however, LCM CISD is diametrically opposed to that and the administration works hard to educate the LCM community against tolerating bullying in any form. Staff has spent a great deal of time reworking forms for processing incidents and procedures for dealing with bullying. LCM is also sending people to different training sessions so that they can come back to share new ideas with other staff members.

“Administrators are working on additional staff development on bullying at this time. It comes in many forms and we are all susceptible to being bullied. Principals receive copies of articles on the latest information on bullying and electronic lessons are made available that teachers can use with their students. It is definitely our goal to eliminate bullying in all forms,” Hargrove said.

Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD, like many other schools around the state and nation, are very aware of the issues and consequences that surround bullying, whether it be physical or emotional. The campaign to curb bullying is ongoing in dialogs with staff and students on all grade levels.

According to Stacey Brister, Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction, “Each campus administrator works with their own staff on recognizing, intervening, and taking action against bullying.”

BCHS has also worked on creating what they refer to as a “circle of trust.” The newly implemented “Connect Class” allows students to have someone they can talk to at the school about problems they may have with school work, attendance, issues at home or bullying. The students are assigned a particular teacher whom they can go to when problems arise.

“We want to encourage the students to talk to someone,” Briggs said.

Last year Sabine Federal Credit Union paid for an anti-bullying program at area high schools called “Rachel’s Challenge.” Rachel Scott was the first person killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Her acts of kindness and compassion coupled with the contents of her six diaries have become the foundation for one of the most life-changing school programs in America. Students were spellbound during a one-hour school presentation targeted to motivate them to positive change in the way they treat others.

It is something that the District would like to see in the junior high and middle school, as well as high school levels, Hargrove added.

The overwhelming support of the speaker while at BCHS reminds Briggs why things like this are important. They plan to have more speakers in the future.

The staff at BCHS try to educate the students on bullying. According to Briggs, they strive to be proactive instead of reactive. However, if reported they are ready to address the problems and get it resolved.

Even though the bullying may occur off campus, Briggs said as long it impacts the learning environment, then it will be addressed as well.

But, he is realistic and knows no matter how hard they try, “It’s still going to happen.”

When it does, school officials are ready to address the problem.

“We have a comprehensive and thorough plan in place that is designed to meet the letter of the law and also to make the reporting of bullying issues as convenient and unintimidating as possible,” said Keith Jones, BCHS Vice Principal.

At the high school, reports of bullying are documented and submitted where they can be used for future reference.

The bullying policy is the recommended wording from the Texas Association of School Board to ensure the requirements are fully met. The big change this year was the word “and” which gave bullying a much more narrow scope.

Bullying occurs when a student of group of students in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic methods, or physical conduct against another student on school property, at a school-sponsored or related activity, or in a district operated vehicle, and the behavior: results in the harm to the student of the student’s property, places a student in reasonable fear of physical harm or damage to the student’s property, or is so severe, persistent and pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment, according to the TASB.

In addition, this conduct is considered bullying if it exploits an imbalance of power between the student perpetrators and the student victims and if it interferes with a student’s education and substantially disrupts the operation of the school.

Bullying includes such actions as hazing, threats, taunting, teasing, confinement, assault, demands for money, destruction of property, theft of valued possessions, name-calling, rumor-spreading, or ostracism.

But, Briggs said, no matter the definition, bullying is still bullying.

“It involves feelings and regardless what defines it, if a student feels bullied, then we have to take a closer look and address the issue.”

Superintendent Dr. Pauline Hargrove said that at the District level, bullying is addressed in some form in every team meeting, as it on every campus teachers meeting. “It’s at the top of our radar and we’re working diligently to help students understand what bullying is, how to control yourself so you don’t participate, and what to do if you find yourself in that situation,” Hargrove said.

Mauriceville Elementary Principal Buffy Knight said that in addition to addressing some facet of bullying at each staff meeting and counselors working with students to help them understand bullying and its consequences, that when students are in larger groups than their normal classes, staff is being even more aware of student interactions and the group climate.

According to stopbullying.gov, the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that, nationwide, 20% of students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.

In addition, the 2008–2009 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that, nationwide, 28% of students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying.

Bullying can affect everyone such as those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. It is important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying or something else is a concern.

Children who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.

Other issues can include  health complaints

and decreased academic achievement such as a lower grade point average, standardized test scores and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.

A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied, according to stopbullying.gov.