Bullying Awareness Month: Resources & Tips for parents & students

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Bullying Awareness Month

Shannon Taylor, Associate Editor

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and according to Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center, one out of every five students, or approximately 20%, report being bullied.

According to stompoutbullying.org, some common reasons kids bully include a lack of attention at home due to absent parents or adults at home that are aggressive themselves. Bullies lack empathy and target weaker kids and don’t accept consequences for their actions. Bullies haven’t learned kindness, compassion, or respect.

Yale Medicine has done extensive research on why kids bully and how to both stop and prevent bullying, asserting that bullying is a public health crisis. Yale medicine stated that their research “links being bullied in childhood with a long list of physical and mental health challenges, including obesity, depression and higher risk of chronic disease. The adverse health effects of bullying may be more harmful, overall, than having been mistreated by an adult as a child, according to some studies. Others link a history of being bullied with lower lifelong income and a poorer quality of life.”

The 2021/22 Tn Department of Education Bullying & Harassment LEA Data shows that Weakley County had 78 cases of reported bullying with 36 of those cases indicating bullying occurred. 11 of those cases were sex or gender biased bullying, 13 involved electronic technology, 29 cases resulted in discipline other than OSS (out of school suspension) and 0 cases involved in OSS.

The TN Dep. Of Ed. Website states that under TN code 49-6-4503, every school district must have a policy prohibiting bullying and harassment as well as procedures for investigating reports.

In the Weakley County School’s handbook there is a section titled” STUDENT HEALTH AND SAFETY” that states, “Reporting a Safety Concern Safety is one of our district’s top priorities, which is why we use an anonymous tip reporting system that allows students, staff, and parents to submit safety concerns five different ways: 1. Phone: 731.681.1487 2. Text: Text your tip to 731.681.1487 3. Email: 1183@alert1.us 4. Web: http://1183.alert1.us 5. App: Free for IOS and Android Easily report tips on bullying, harassment, drugs, vandalism or any safety issue. Submit a tip anonymously online or by telephone. More information is available at http://1183.alert1.us.”

The Weakley County Board of Education Student Discrimination/Harassment and Bullying/Intimidation Policy was formed in 2016 and states, “This policy shall be published in the parent/student handbook distributed annually to every student.” Communications Director Erica Moore stated, “The policy is in the handbook, but various parts of it are included under the most appropriate sections within the handbook.  The Student Handbook does address that bullying is not permitted and that students have the right to be treated with respect and the responsibility to treat others with respect (pg. 17-18), and the consequences associated with violating the rules in various schools (pg. 22-24). The handbook also references that the information in it reflects the current policies of Weakley County Schools, that policies are subject to change at any time by action of the Weakley County Board of Education, the Tennessee State Board of Education, or the Tennessee General Assembly, etc.”

Moore also stated, “Our schools do so many things throughout the year to promote the six pillars of character to support ethical behavior and to help students understand the importance of using the principles as a guideline for their actions. Our schools are involved in bullying prevention year-round with activities and events that are baked into each school’s culture. All throughout the school year, there’s a continual theme of building students’ character, social-emotional skills, and shaping positive school culture. Based on development stage and age, students are involved in activities that promote good character and treating others with respect.”

The policy can be found here: 6.304 Student Discrimination.pdf (sharpschool.com)

Other resources available for bullying include:

TN Dep. Of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Helpline:
Phone: 800-560-5767
Email: OCA.TDMHSAS@tn.gov
Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (except for state holidays)

The Tennessee Statewide Crisis Line toll-free 24 hours, 7 days a week at 1-855-274-7471.

Tennessee Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies | StopBullying.gov

Bullying Resource Center (aacap.org)

Civil Rights (tn.gov)

Unsafe Schools Choice Policy (tn.gov)

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