School leaders react to bullying assessment

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Local school leaders are reacting to the first statewide assessment of bullying at public schools. The report stated that there were more than 9,000 cases of bullying during last school year in Indiana.

Of the more than 9,000 bullying cases in Indiana last year, 44 percent were verbal incidents, 21 percent physical and the rest were electronic threats and social shunning.

“There’s 9,000 incidents and there’s a million kids all across the state. In the whole realm of things, that’s a pretty small number. It does not mean it’s not serious for the victim that’s going through it,” said Chris Himsel, Superintendent of Northwest Allen County School District.

“We do want to work with parents and we do want them to come to us if there’s an issue because the only way we can address it, is if we know it’s going on,” said Krista Stockman, Spokesperson for Fort Wayne Community Schools.

That’s why leaders at each school district said that they investigate every case and determine how to discipline each individual student.

However, you the parent or student have to report it first.

Southwest Allen County School District set up a hotline.

“A lot of the issues that happen, happen when adults aren’t around and it’s absolutely critical that kids feel comfortable to either report or to stand up when they see friends or other students being picked on,” said Dr. Philip Downs, Superintendent of SACS.

Other districts like East Allen County Schools send a bullying policy home at the beginning of each school year.

FWCS has a website on which you can report bullying anonymously.

School leaders said it’s a day-to-day battle that’s gone on almost since the beginning.

“I think back to Little House on The Prairie when I was a child and Nellie Oleson was the ultimate bully in those particular shows and the moral of all those stories, we’re trying to make sure that you inform people who can help and advocate for you not to hold it in,” said Himsel.

A state law passed last year now requires Indiana’s public schools to submit data on each bullying incident.

The definition of bullying is repeated overt actions, done to cause harm to another person.

School leaders said they often receive reports of incidents that actually don’t qualify as bullying.

However, that doesn’t mean the student won’t be disciplined.

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