We are four weeks into the school year, the leaves are turning and it seems like a good time to talk about an issue that occurs in our schools as well as all schools in the nation: harassment and bullying. Children, particularly adolescents, experience some form of bullying or harassment in their school lives. Sometimes this occurs in school, other times it occurs at home or online and carries over to school. We have a policy that addresses both events as well as a student conduct policy that we turn to when an incident does not meet the definition of either bullying or harassment, but is still a behavior that is not acceptable or appropriate.
Common questions we hear from parents include: who do I talk to if I suspect my child is being bullied or harassed? What can I expect the school to do? What information can be shared with me? Why do I sometimes see the other student still in school?
The policy on the Harassment Hazing and Bullying of Students (JBEAA) guides the response of the school. Because we are an educational organization and because we are still teaching appropriate behaviors to students of all ages, we need to work with each student involved in a situation. When a report is made to a school faculty member, the schools’ Designated Employee, one of 2 appointed in each school, must create a written report and submit it to the building principal or associate principal to review and determine if the incident rises to the level of an investigation. Not every behavior incident meets the definition of harassment or bullying. If it does not, then it is investigated as a student conduct concern. The school must take steps to stop the conduct if bullying or harassment is thought to have occurred and to notify parents of an investigation. Students involved and witnesses are interviewed as part of the investigation. The final results of the investigation is shared again with the principal or associate principal who then determine, if substantiated, the consequences for the student(s) involved. Consequences range from education and counseling to suspension short or long term. It varies according to the information gathered in the report. Sometimes consequences are not obvious to the other party; however we are unable to share student information including discipline. It is very important, however, that we work with the victim and the parents to do everything possible to stop any inappropriate behavior and if needed, create a safety plan around the victim.
In order for the school to take steps to stop inappropriate behavior and keep our students safe, we need to partner with parents. Do not assume the school knows what is going on. Call, email, stop in. Let us know what is happening for your child and work with us to look into it. We created a chart that we hope helps parents understand the process when a complaint is raised. Please let us know if the chart is helpful or still leaves question. It is important we work on this issue together and work to create a culture where people speak up and stop if they see anything occurring that upsets another student. I look forward to hearing your feedback on the chart.bullyingflowchart-1