Tag Archives: bullying

Bullying: A parents’ resource guide

From time to time, we here at the Kitsap Sun get calls from parents concerned about bullying at their children’s school. On Sunday, we’ll run the first of a two-part series on bullying in schools. Day one is focused on how parents can best advocate for their children when bullying happens. On Tuesday (our regular Education Spotlight day), we will follow up with a look at why middle schools are often a hot bed of conflict waiting to happen.

Meanwhile, here are the nuts and bolts of student rights, school responsibilities and what parents should know about helping their student deal with bullying at school.

This information comes from the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. OSPI does not have authority to enforce local rules except in cases involving sexual discrimination, special education disputes and complaints of misconduct against a school district employee.

Each school district is required by RCW 28A.300.285 to have a policy that prohibits the harassment, intimidation, or bullying of any student. Schools must share this policy with parents or guardians, students, volunteers, and school employees. Districts post policies and procedures on their website and in parent handbooks.

How do I report suspected bullying?
1. Contact your child’s school (or transportation department if the incident happens on the bus). Fill out an incident form, which should be available at the school or on the district’s website. The school is required to conduct an investigation.
2. Anyone — students, parents, staff — can report suspected bullying. Students may submit the report asking for confidentiality, meaning the staff will not disclose the name of the reporting student to the accused student. Anonymous reports also are accepted. Staff cannot issue disciplinary consequences for anonymous reports, but they may alert staff to an existing problem.
3. If the bullying act was particularly vicious and the bully seriously injured your child or caused significant harm to your child’s property, the bully may be guilty of malicious harassment. Contact the police if you suspect malicious harassment. In some cases, the schools will make a police report on your child’s behalf.
4. If you feel the school has not adequately addressed the issues, file a written complaint with the district’s compliance officer, who is an administrator appointed by OSPI to over see discipline. Next up the chain of command would be the superintendent.
5. If you still feel that district has not adequately addressed the issues, you may file a complaint with a school board member. Most school boards do not permit discussion of individual discipline cases during public meetings.
6. If you still feel that your concerns have not been addressed, you may contact your Educational Service District Superintendent. Kitsap County is served by Olympic Educational Service District 114, (360) 479-0993.
7. For further help and guidance, contact one of the agencies listed below.

Washington State Human Rights Commission
Addresses bullying based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, gender expression, sensory, mental, or physical disability). The Human Rights Commission has staff throughout the state who able to meet with you and investigate the bullying complaint.

Washington State Office of the Education Ombudsman
Helps with parent-school conflicts with regionally sited investigators: (866) 297-2597.

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights
Addresses complaints based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability and age and has a regional office in Seattle: (206) 607-1600.

The Safe Schools Coalition
Addresses homophobia and harassment in school based on real or perceived sexual orientation: (877) 723-3723.

Washington State Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)
Has regional offices, and the national PTA provides guidance on bullying.

Community Relations Service
An arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, provides conciliation services to help prevent and resolve racial and ethnic conflict. Contact Sandra Blair, Conciliation Specialist, Northwest Regional Office: (206) 220-6704.

Source: Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Safety Center, http://www.k12.wa.us/SafetyCenter/BullyingHarassment/FactSheet.aspx

More resources for parents
Committee for Children, parents guide to support children in reporting bullying

Committee for Children, parents guide to cyberbullying

Stop Bullying, federal public service site

Source: Bremerton School District, http://www.bremertonschools.org

Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun education reporter

Bremerton 5-year-old’s story about bullying featured on Mrs. P website

Ivy Exum, 5, of Bremerton joins the ranks of published authors with “The Peanut Butter and Jelly Hotdog,” a story about getting the best on bullies … with kindness. A video based on the story was posted Monday to Mrs. P’s Magic Library, a website of free audio and video literature for children.

Exum, with help from her parents, submitted the original story to Mrs. P’s Be a Famous Writer Contest. Don’t know about Mrs. P? Neither did I, but if you’ve ever watched the Drew Carey Show, you’ll recognize Mrs. P (actress Kathy Kinney) from her role as Mimi Bobeck.

Mrs. P is a hoot. With her overstuffed chair, cozy fireplace and imitation Irish brogue, she’s like an updated version of Mrs. Doubtfire … but with flaming red hair … like Ms. Frizzle of the “Magic Schoolbus” series.

Like Robin Williams’ Mrs. Doubtfire and Ms. Frizzle, the exuberant, fictional science teacher with magic powers, Mrs. P is on a mission to reach out directly to kids. The focus of Mrs. P’s Magic Library, is to get children excited about reading. The website is “a treasure chest of audio and video goodies.”

Contest organizers called Exum’s story “a funny, quirky take on a serious subject.” Although “The Peanut Butter and Jelly Hotdog” was not a grand prize winner, it caught the eye of the website’s producers, who felt it had an important message and should be produced as a video, said Dana Plautz, co-president of Mrs. P Enterprises LLC, launched in 2008. Mrs. P’s production offices are located in Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles, California.

In “The Peanut Butter and Jelly Hotdog,” a little girl feels hurt when a bully makes fun of her peanut butter and jelly in a hotdog roll. The next day everyone in the cafeteria shows up with a peanut butter and jelly hotdog. Then it’s the bully who feels left out until the kids share with him.

“Adults can talk around a problem for years and never reach a conclusion,” said Kinney. “But this 5-year-old kid came up with a short, simple story that cuts to the core and says the best way to deal with a bully is with humor and love. How great is that?”

Ivy’s mom Katie Exum said the story was inspired by a concoction Katie made for her daughter one day when she ran out of bread (although if you google the term, you’ll see it’s not an entirely original recipe). Ivy and her dad, Nathan, have been making up stories about Michelle, the heroine of the tale, and Ogre, her friend, for a couple of years. Ivy dictated the story and Katie typed it out for her. Ivy has a 2-year-old brother, Sawyer.

Kinney hopes the video about Ivy’s story will be used as a resource for parents, teachers and kids to open a dialogue about bullying.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years, and at least 10 percent are bullied on a regular basis.

The academy has documented that when communities and schools implement programs specifically targeting aggression toward others, bullying and delinquency markedly decline. Studies of one bullying prevention program found a 45 percent decrease in bullying incidents four years in, along with a significant decrease in reports of student involvement in delinquency, theft, vandalism and school behavior.

MrsP.com in 2010 received more than 1,000 entries from children ages 4 to 13 from 26 states for its second annual “Be A Famous Writer Contest.” Five finalists were selected in each of two age categories: 4 to 8 and 9 to 13.

The judges included best-selling author Meg Cabot (“The Princess Diaries”), Jim Davis, creator of Garfield the cat comic strip, and Danny Kallis, creator of the Disney Channel’s “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.”

Each winner received a bound copy of their illustrated story, as well as gift certificates to Powell’s Books, official sponsor of the writing contest.