School task force to look at bullying
Sep 2, 2010
Updated: September 22, 2010 10:37PM
Bullying is a common problem schools have to deal with and, unfortunately, not only is it on the rise, but because of the Internet, bullying is taking on new forms. Just how bad is it in our schools? "It's hard to say just how much bullying is going on in our schools," said Sharon Gronemeyer, assistant superintendent for student services for Plainfield School District. "Most of bullying goes unreported or undocumented. Currently, we just don't have a mechanism in place that tracks bullying. When a student is disciplined, the paperwork doesn't show it as a bullying situation. It will read inappropriate language, fight or something like that. Looking at the paperwork, we don't know if the root of the situation stems from bullying."Gronemeyer said that the school district does have bullying policies in place. Are they effective? That's hard to say without knowing just how prevalent, at what ages and what form the bullying is taking.Plainfield School District has decided to put together an anti-bullying task force. Gronemeyer said that the task force will be made up of about 15 administration staffers, parents and students. Members of the task force will be educated in bullying and new legislation and statistics on the issue. They will be responsible for conducting surveys and polls to try and get an accurate picture of the bullying problem specific to the district. The task force also will be responsible for analyzing the data, reviewing the current policies, and working to create a stronger, more effective bullying policy.Until then, parents need to understand that in order for the school to get involved, the bullying must be done on school property, or on what is seen as an extension of school property, such as bus stops, or must in some way be disruptive in the school setting. This makes cyber bullying a difficult type of bullying to combat.A parent's best defense is to stay attuned to children and what is going on in their lives. If a child does not want to go to school or is no longer hanging out with friends, the parent needs to find out why. If a child is being bullied, he or she will most likely want to handle it on their own or ignore it until it goes away. But, a bullying problem rarely "just goes away" and will likely escalate into a bigger problem.Don't be afraid to call your child's school guidance counselor if you believe your child is being bullied. Counselors are a great resource because they've dealt with this situation before. It is also important that you have them document the situation for future reference. For a great source on bullying, visit www. bullyingstatistics.org/content/child-bullying.html . For Jean Dunning, visit www.morekidfriendlystuff.blogspot.com.