It has been reported by the state Department of Public Instruction that students witness an episode of bullying every 15 minutes in the classrooms and every eight minutes on a playground. That doesn’t count bullying on school buses and online, not to mention the incidents of bullying that go unreported on a daily basis because of fear of retaliation.
Officials with the Clinton City School system, who have admittedly seen a spike in bullying reports this school year, are looking to help students and parents report those incidences by creating a convenient online form that can be filled out and delivered to administrators in a matter of minutes.
Terrace Miller, director of Special Programs for Clinton City Schools, said although the forms are online now, they will not be officially rolled out to educators until next week and to parents on Oct. 23.
“A little while back, Mr. Stuart Blount, our superintendent asked what we had in place for students to report bullying without giving their names,” Miller explained Thursday morning. “At all of our schools there were boxes where students could report a bully and not have to give their names, but nothing like this. Since we have seen a small spike in bullying cases, this was a great idea.”
Blount requested Miller work with members of the system’s technology department to see if they could come up with an online form that would be linked to the system’s website.
“I had asked John Lowe, who is in charge of the technology department, and he was able to put it all together very quickly,” explained Miller. “What we came up with was having a link that says ‘Bullying Reports’ and then have a form linked with every single school in the system. You go down to the school that you want to report the bully in and fill out the form. It is very quick and easy.”
Information written on the form can be filled out by anyone, Miller explained, and the completed letter will be sent directly to the school administrator and a copy of it will be sent to Miller.
“This way, I can look at it and follow up with the school to see what has been done about the incident,” she stressed. “We will decide if the issue can be handled by the administration, the student resource officer or in guidance. The great thing about it is the student, parent or whoever is filing the report, can leave their name or remain anonymousl; it is up to them. There is no fear.”
However, with such an open forum, there will be those who file fake reports. “We realize that,” Miller acknowledged. “And we will be looking out for those very closely. But we know the kids, and for the most part we know how kids are, and I am sure we will get some fake ones, but this is important to have this because it will help us know what is going on in what school. If a student is having a problem and is afraid to report it, we can fix it.”
Bullying generally takes place when an adult is not present. It frequently happens during transitional times such as when the classroom bell rings and youth are in motion in hallways, going to their lockers, changing for PE, before school, after school or on the playground.
“We realize that a student may not want to say something in school,in front of a bully,” Miller said. “Most kids these days don’t want to be known as a snitch. That is why this is so great; if someone sees a classmate being bullied, they can go home and, in a few clicks, report what they saw.”
Principals and teachers will get detailed information on the online forms beginning Monday and will be given a chance to include their input in tweaking the forms.
Parents will be invited to a forum hosted by the Parent Involvement Program that will take place Oct. 23, from 6-7 p.m. “We are going to officially roll it out to the parents on that date,” Miller explained. “This way parents can come in and have a chance to find out what it is all about and ask questions about it; and about bullying as well.”
Those meetings will be held at Butler Avenue School for K-5; and Sampson Middle School for students in grades 6-12.
For more information or to see the forms click on to the Clinton City Schools website at www.clinton.k12.nc.us/pages/Clinton_City_Schools or call 910-592-3132.
To reach Doug Clark call 910-592-8137 ext. 123 or email to email@example.com.