Superintendent's Corner: December
It's hard to believe but we are already close to the end of the first semester. As I considered writing this month’s “Superintendent’s Corner,” I thought I might change the format a little. We do a pretty good job of keeping you informed of day-to-day developments of the school through our social media pages. If you do not follow us on Facebook, please do so as we post lots of great information on the page on almost a daily basis. Of course, the website is also a great place to get information about the school. Previous editions of the Superintendent’s Corner have been summations of information that mostly has been included in these other locations so I felt as though the information was becoming a little repetitive. So, going forward, each month I will discuss a specific topic or two and let you know how we are addressing these ideas at Friend Public School.
The first idea I’d like to discuss is bullying. Bullying has gone on in schools since the time that schools started. Over time the issue has been much publicized and schools have had to take a harder look at plans to at least reduce bullying. In order to better address the situation, we must first be able to recognize it and define it. The organization, Stopbullying.gov, defines bullying among school children as being “An unwanted, aggressive behavior that is real or perceived to be a power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.” So, by this definition one student has what at least is perceived by at least one other student as having an imbalance in power. Using physical size to coerce or intimidate others as in the case of a student who is a larger person than others is a common scenario. Another common example is when one student leads others to be disrespectful towards one single student so the group would be “ganging up” on the single student. Bullying does not include two students who are calling each other names or who are having some sort of disagreement. The term bullying is often used by parents and students to describe these situations which is an inaccurate usage as there is not an imbalance of power. Both parties are involved equally.
As a small school, we are very fortunate that we do not have a great deal of true bullying. However, for us to say that it does not exist would be untrue. We do have situations occasionally where bullying is taking place. For each situation, we do our best to find out all facts and details involved and discipline students accordingly. Typically, in most bullying cases we see, the offenses are verbal and more minor in nature. One student is calling another student names for example. In all cases where bullying has been identified by the school administration, the offender will be punished based on the severity of the incident and based on the offender’s past discipline history.
Addressing bullying from a disciplinary standpoint is certainly an idea that schools must address. Making attempts to be proactive to prevent bullying from occurring are also important steps schools must take to create a more positive learning environment for their students. Sometimes students are hesitant to report bullying because they don't want to be seen as a “Tattle Tale” or because they are afraid the actions of the bully may get worse. Friend Public School will soon be releasing an APP called “Stopit.” The Stopit app will allow students to report concerns in an anonymous format. The way it works is that a student reports an incident and the school administration gets an immediate alert email. We can then go into the system to see the details of what was reported and begin an investigation. Our local law enforcement have also been included in the notification process. If an incident is reported that may be a major concern, law enforcement can act immediately as needed. Along with the reporting features, the program also provides opportunities for students to receive a wide range of support services. Examples include access to 24-hour counseling, support for suicide prevention, mental health support, and support for sexual misconduct.
As another way to prevent bullying and other disruptive behavior on campus, we are looking at starting a Watch D.O.G. dad’s program. The D.O.G. part of the program is an acronym that stands for Dads of Great Students. The purpose of the program is to provide opportunities for positive male role models to be involved in the school. Participants do not have to be parents of students. They can be grandparents, uncles, cousins, or just any male in the community who wants to be involved. We will be having an introductory meeting on Monday, Jan 12th at 7:00 PM in the school library. Please let us know if you have any questions.
We value the well-being of all students. While we make no promises to completely eliminate bullying, we do promise to address each situation as soon as we know of it in an appropriate manner. We love all of our students and want them to have the best educational experience we can provide! Please let us know if you have any questions regarding how Friend Public School addresses bullying or anything else school related.
See you next time!