What can schools do to ensure students do not fall through the cracks?
Many of you may have watched the recent 48 Hours special segment on bullying. The show highlighted one school district’s proactive efforts to implement bullying prevention programs and solutions. We witnessed one young student who we felt like was rising above the bullying and truly being helped by these programs. However, as the year progressed, we learned he began to hide the bullying, pretended like everything was okay, and later attempted suicide.
In September we were also deeply saddened by the tragic suicide of Jamie Rodemeyer who had previously filmed an “It Gets Better” video to help other bullied teens, but allowed the tormenting to become too much.
Both of the students’ schools were well aware of their struggles and had procedures and guidelines for responding to incidents of bullying and cyberbullying. So, what went wrong? How can we ensure students do not continue to fall through the cracks and we do not lose any more innocent young lives?
If a student reports bullying, many schools may call the bully into the principal’s office, file a written report, speak with the parents and determine the incident resolved. However, it is critical for schools to follow-up with the victim and bully on an ongoing basis, 2 weeks down the road, 1 month, etc. to ensure their behavior is improving and everyone feels safe and secure in their learning environment.
Schools must ensure all incidents of bullying are continually tracked and followed-up on throughout the year, at new schools, with parents, new teachers, counselors, etc. Schools should also encourage other students and peers to report bullying they may witness in the hallways, on the school bus, after school, etc. so administrators can connect the dots and gather a comprehensive overview of your school’s safety culture.
One suicide is one too many, and we must continue to implement innovative solutions to prevent the consequences of bullying.