That’s the number of students in the West Virginia school system who were disciplined for bullying, harassment or intimidation for the 2011-12 school year.
That’s the number of cases that went through the proper channels and ended with a disciplinary action. That doesn’t count the incidents not reported. That doesn’t count the students who suffer in silence or don’t feel like an incident is worth reporting.
And not surprisingly, the majority of incidents happened in middle schools statewide. According to the report, presented to the state school board late last month, 26 percent of incidents happened in high schools, 18 percent in elementary schools and the remaining incidents in middle schools/junior highs.
“The middle schools, that’s where it occurs,” state schools Superintendent Jim Phares said following the presentation of the report to the joint committee on education. “Part of it is the growth and lack of maturity of the students.”
The report says that bullying can be prevented by improving “overall conditions for learning.”
Since bullying accounts for only about 3 percent of infractions statewide, the theory is that if you create an environment where misbehavior and disobedience are not acceptable or tolerated, the number of cases of bullying will decline. The report also said that assemblies and single class lessons devoted to bullying are not very effective. The report also calls for extra training for teachers and administrators so they feel more capable to handle a bullying incident as well as promoting positive behavior in the classrooms and in the hallways. The final recommendation highlighted in the report is making sure that kids are serving suspensions in school so those children are “not deprived of needed supports.”
It’s a tough issue to deal with. On one hand, you know the behavior is very age-related, but on the other hand, no child should have to suffer through teasing, torment, fear and physical attacks. So what do you do?
We took the question to our faithful online readers, who log on each week to www.timeswv.com to answer our weekly online poll question. Last week we asked, “A recent study found that about half of the state’s bullying issues are happening on the middle school level. What do you think would help the most?”
And here’s what you had to say:
• More and better training for teachers and administrators — 9.76 percent.
• More focus on the issue and not just an assembly here and there — 15.85 percent.
• Not much ... It’s just an age thing that most kids grow out of — 19.51 percent.
• Consistent discipline and constant education — 54.88 percent.
No matter what, we can’t give up on our kids. Those who are hurting and in pain hurt others. Those who have been hurt by bullying carry around scars forever.
This week, let’s talk about the complex issue of the death penalty as some high-profile cases have brought the controversial issue back into the public dialogue. Where do you stand? Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
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