For the past few months, Clinton City Schools and the system’s Board of Education has been working diligently to stop bullying in the system. From their zero tolerance stance to the recent approval that allowed parents and students to make an anonymous bullying report to administrators online to recently hosting workshops with parents, educators are looking for every way possible to end it.
Terrace Miller, assistant superintendent of Student Services and Federal Programs, said the workshops came out of necessity.
“We have seen an increase in the number of reported cases of bullying and we felt the need to address it with parents,” explained Miller. “Many times bullying shows up in other ways, such as fighting, arguing, etc., and through investigation, we found that bullying was the root of it. (Currently) We receive an average of five or six bullying reports a week and often they identify the same person as the bully, but it’s reported by two or three different people.”
The workshops, held at two separate locations — Butler Avenue and Clinton High — late last week, allowed the seven counselors in the system to sit down with parents and explain the symptoms of being bullied, as well as how to identify signs that their child may be bullying other children. (See box)
“It was important for us to get the information out to the parents,” said counselor Phillip Williamson. “Bullying is an issue that is not just here, but across the country. I felt that having a workshop to bring vital information to parents was crucial in helping them be aware of or observe their child’s behavior in an effort to see if they are being bullied or if they could possibly be a bully.”
Williamson said the messages were the same at the two meetings. “Thy didn’t change; we had one school host K-5 and the other was 6-12,” he explained. “The most important thing was that we reach as many parents as we could. We were also making sure that the parents knew about the new online forms that they can fill out and report bullies with anonymity.”
Butler Avenue counselor Terrence Moore said the meetings were an important step in the battle against bullies. “All of us have been in the classrooms talking with students,” he said. “But with this, we are able to get face-to-face with the parents and share with them what we see on a daily basis. The main thing is that we want them to speak up. If they are being bullied, they need to speak out and not be afraid to let someone know.”
Despite limited publicity, about 50 parents turned out to get the information.
“I thought it was positive,” said Williamson. “You know, we hope to have these maybe once a year to continue to get the message out. But no matter how many meetings you have, you are just not going to be able to reach every parent because of schedules or work … Our job is to be proactive in getting this information out and letting the parents know that we want them to be involved. The thing that I want to see is the students and parents taking advantage of what the system has set up for them.”
“It only works if we are working together with the parents,” added Moore. “We want to show the students and parents that we are here to support them. We want to make sure that students are comfortable here in school and that they can speak up if they are feeling bullied without the fear of retaliation. We are here to keep them safe. If the parents understand the process and know that we are here to help, it will work.”
Williamson agreed. “The students and the parents have to feel comfortable with us and they have to know that we are going to take care of it,” he said. “That is what we told them at the meeting. If there is a report, the administration is going to get right on it and investigate the report. We want to get on it when it is hot, not wait until the report goes cold because it doesn’t send the right message to the bully. So when we get something, we get right on it. So far, we have gotten good response online, that is a good sign.”
The next parent/counselor meeting has not been set, but hopes are it will be early next year.
To file a bullying report online go to www.clinton.k12.nc.us and click on bullying reports.
To reach Doug Clark call 910-592-8137 ext. 123 or email to email@example.com.