Dateline will air a special report on bullying Sunday. We continue our week of awareness, with a look at how schools are dealing with the problem.
Schools across the state are introducing new programs and initiatives, over at Whitesides elementary, in an effort to bring awareness to bullying. Students decorated their classroom doors with anti-bullying slogans.
Laing Middle School has a new student advocacy program, an initiative to curb bullying behavior. It involves a three step process, where students look out for other students to stop, walk away from, and if necessary, report bullying situations. Assistant principal Jay Whitehair says, “In the past, we’ve always placed all emphasis on the bully, but we’re trying to empower the victims.”
State school districts have policies or programs against bullying, and if violated, it could lead to suspension, expulsion, and possibly arrest.
A spokesperson for Charleston county says, “Each one of our schools has an assigned staff member that coordinates our anti-bullying initiatives and there is a district-wide curriculum that addresses bullying and is based on best practices. The district strongly recommends schools adopt this curriculum or choose another curriculum that is based on best practices. The district is well-aware of the different types of bullying that exist and is making efforts to train our teachers and principals on addressing the issue and is working with our schools to establish fair and equitable treatment for victims and offenders.”
Colleton County has a very active Anti-Bullying Task Force composed of representatives from each school and the district office. The task force is in the process of developing a district-wide process for reporting and investigating complaints along with support systems for anonymous reporting. A parent and community forum is being planned along with plans to observe Anti-Bullying Month in October 2011
The South Carolina Department of Education, Association of School Administrators, have partnered with the Hazelden Foundation and Clemson University to help prevent bullying. The U.S. Department of Education is giving South Carolina eleven million dollars to start a new program for students in first through eighth grade. The research based program is designed to teach administrators how to improve student relationships.