Have You Fully Addressed Bullying at Your School?

Vol. 16 No. 4

trustees eletter vol16 no4 bullyin

Bullying, in its many forms, has been a persistent problem in many schools. In private schools in particular, this is an immense concern to parents and students.

Parents choose to send their children to your school in part because they consider your community safer than the public alternatives. Still, bullying can occur anytime, anywhere—and occasionally, despite your best efforts

There are no more important issues for you to address than potential misconduct and bullying toward your students. At issue here is not only concern for the student’s physical and emotional safety, but the reality that students simply cannot learn effectively when they do not feel safe.

Consider a recent survey performed by YouthTruth. The nonprofit surveyed more than 180,000 students, grades 5 to 12, across 37 states. The goal was to “understand how much, in what ways, and why students are being bullied.” The survey results are enlightening.

  • One in four students identify as being bullied or harassed, broken down into:
    • female (30%),
    • male (22%), and
    • students who identify in another way (44%).
  • The majority of bullying incidents happen in person, including:
    • verbal harassment (73%),
    • social harassment (54%),
    • physical bullying (28%), and
    • cyberbullying (23%).
  • The top four reasons for bullying are:
    • appearance—how a student looks (44%),
    • race (17%),
    • sexual orientation (15%), and
    • family income (12%).

Although establishing bullying and harassment policies is largely in the province of the School Head and the Leadership Team, it’s prudent for Trustees to understand the issues involved.

“In loco parentis” and “care and custody” are not merely legal terms. It’s how parents (and others) view your responsibility toward students (their children) who are in your school’s charge. This responsibility pertains whether the student is in class or participating in school-related activities (both on and off campus), and, in some cases, extends to travel to and from school. Ensure that the appropriate protocols are in place.

Perhaps the most important aspect is the process of training faculty and staff to recognize bullying and be prepared to handle such situations. There are many sources of information and guidance, including medical and other professionals, your legal counsel, government resources, law enforcement groups, your insurance agent, various associations, and your own advisory staff. Make sure the Board supports these efforts—financially and otherwise.

Don’t wait until something bad happens at your school—something you might have been able to prevent.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Academic Leadership Vol. 13 No. 8 Bullying: Seven Ways to Protect Your Students
The Source for Private School News Vol. 13 No. 2 Bullying: Address the Problem, Attack the Cause

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 36 No. 3 Addressing Bullying and Sexual Misconduct
I&P Vol. 42 No. 1 Creating Divisional and Departmental Mission Statements
I&P Vol. 26 No. 6 Sexual Orientation, Harassment, and Victimization: Establish a Safe Environment

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