Pharos-Tribune

July 22, 2013

Local schools clarify what makes a bully

Indiana code updates bullying definition

By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune
Pharos-Tribune

---- — Per Indiana codes, local schools will be providing information about an updated bullying definition to students, staff and parents.

Indiana Code requires schools to provide information about bullying to students, parents. Bullying, according to IC 20-33-8-0.2, is unwanted, repeated acts or gestures or any other behaviorsthat are committed by a student or group of students with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate or harm the target and create an hostile school environment.

Southeastern School Corporation will provide training for students to help them understand what bullying is, said Trudie Hedrick, new Southeastern School Corporation superintendent.

“When someone says they’re being bullied it is a very serious accusation,” Hedrick said. “We need to know the definition. It will be a good educational experience.”

Indiana Code also states school corporations must prohibit bullying and have a procedure for investigation, plus provisions concerning education, parent involvement, discipline for staff who fail to report an investigation and for false reporting of bullying.

Administrators at Carroll Consolidated School Corporation are working on policies to include the new definition, according to Chris Lagoni, the schools’s superintendent. The first step will be adding the revised definition to handbooks and tracking discipline, Lagoni said.

“We want to make sure we track discipline instances to make sure things defined as bullying are getting tracked that way,” Lagoni said. “We’ll use the definition to help clarify.”

Students in kindergarten through 12th grade and staff in the Southeastern School Corporation will go through training, Hedrick said.

The training, led by a social worker on staff, will cover what bullying is, what it looks like and how to report it, and will begin soon after school starts.

“I hope it makes the staff feel more comfortable,” Hedrick said. “I also hope parents get a clear picture so if something happens to their child, they’ll understand what it means.”

Although policy at Logansport Community School Corporation is updated and “ready to go,” administrators will discuss it at the beginning-of-the-year meeting next week, said Michele Starkey, Logansport Community School Corporation superintendent.

“We’re always looking at better ways to do things,” Starkey said.

The next step for administrators at Carroll Schools, along with watching for bullying patterns, is to think of creative ways someone could report. Bullying tip lines or an anonymous email are some things they are looking in to, Lagoni said.

If someone feels they’ve seen bullying, they should report it, Hedrick said. They can report it anonymously to the building administrator or they can report it to a teacher, who must then report it to the administrator.

Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or amie.sites@pharostribune.com.