I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Violence and Bullying in Schools: More Must be Done

While the overall national trend on reports of bullying are headed lower, there are still unacceptable levels of bullying reported in our Nation's schools.  Laws and rules written by well-meaning lawmakers and school board members must be followed with fidelity--otherwise such regulations are not worth the paper they are printed on.

We have the issue of bullying and harassment here locally as well, and I believe a mandatory, confidential student survey administered to all children in grades 3-12 could stem the tide.  Many districts have utilized such surveys with great results to curtail incidents of bullying/harassment on school campuses---as well as a means to identify other potentially hazardous issues students may be experiencing..

Sadly, bullied students often take their own lives.  The story of Steve Wesener is heartbreaking.  As a nation we have to do better, we have to do more.

A few months back the idea of confidential, mandatory student surveys was discussed at our school board workshop---- and the board was told such a survey plan was in the works, it is/was being bargained with the teacher's union.  I intend to follow this closely and advocate for implementation as soon as it is practical to do so.

We are not alone in this issue, and parents in Escambia County are not alone in the frustration over bullies apparently getting away with their outrageous misconduct not only in person, but online as well...

From Yesterday's Modesto Bee:

"The old days of cornering a kid in the bathroom were bad, but the danger stopped at the front door, noted Sylvan school board member David Collins, who works with the Center for Human Services. “Now, with social media, it follows them until they go to bed,” he said.  Social media was the weapon of choice for bullies who went after Breanna Mendoza, an eighth-grader at Dutcher Middle School in Turlock. Mendoza has a facial deformity and was bullied so badly her parents took her out of school and spoke out publicly. Students at the school, speaking informally, said it “got ridiculous.”Nina Gatton, mother of a Modesto second-grader, wanted her son’s tormentor gone. “The school did nothing about it; you can’t have a zero-tolerance policy to bullying and then do nothing,” she said in exasperation after seeing the bully at school the next day. “He beat up my son,” Gatton said. “He spun him around and round three times, grabbed a handful of dirt and grass and shoved it in his mouth, and then punched him in the eye.” The school told her the bully had been disciplined, but could not give her details or promise to guard her son at all times."

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