Would you like to know what your school officials are doing to positively impact bullying and harassment in our schools? Or what role school officials can play when students are cyber-bullied?
Join me on Thursday, September 18, at Samford University in Birmingham from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. for a community forum on bullying and the evolving role of schools.
As part of its Bully Initiative 2014, Haddasah-Birmingham is hosting this forum. The Alabama School Connection is thrilled to co-host along with the United Way of Central Alabama, the Jefferson County Children’s Policy Council and the Alabama Safe School Coalition.
The forum features a panel of local experts including:
- Dr. Craig Pouncey, Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools
- Mo Canady, Executive Director of the National Association of School Resource Officers
- Dr. Sherri Savage, director of school counseling and guidance services in Jefferson County Schools, and
- Dr. James T. Jeffers, retired Superintendent Tallassee, Alabama
The forum will be moderated by Dr. Phil Hammonds, retired Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools.
This is an opportunity to increase awareness of bullying and to inform parents and caregivers and the community at large about Alabama’s efforts to address bullying and harassment, as well as provide information on what parents and school officials can do to make certain our schools are safe and children can focus on learning.
The statistics and stories of bullied students in our community are alarming. A Jefferson County Children’s Policy Council Safety Work Group report identified that bullying was among the highest concerns in their 2013 needs assessment for children and families in Jefferson County.
- Clarify the definition of harassment and bullying.
- Review the Alabama Student Harassment Act of 2009 and efforts to improve the law.
- Review the actual reporting process and the follow up that can be expected.
- Share current practices and prevention measures our schools are using to address bullying and harassment.
- Speak about the role school counselors and school resources officers can play in addressing bullying and harassment.
The event is free, and registration is encouraged at www.uwca.org/bullyforum.
What the Data Shows – Is It Accurate?
The ALSDE is required to publish data reflecting how many incidents of harassment happen at school. Harassment is bullying that happens more than once.
For the 2012-2013 school year, the number of incidents across the entire state is 720. This is up from 708 during the 2011-2012 school year.
With more than 740,000 students in Alabama’s schools, that means that less than 1/10th of 1 percent of students are being harassed at school.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) survey on crime and victimization in school found that 27.8% of students reported being bullied at school in 2011.
So either Alabama is doing something amazingly right or the incidents are not being properly reported. Why the incidents are being underreported bears further investigation and community action.
Bullying at School Affects a Child’s Ability to Learn
Bullying can negatively impact a child’s access to education and lead to:
- School avoidance and higher rates of absenteeism
- Decrease in grades
- Inability to concentrate
- Loss of interest in academic achievement
- Increase in dropout rates
Check out PACER’s web site for more disturbing facts about bullying and ways folks are addressing bullying in their communities.
Bullying Isn’t Only a School Problem
While this forum is focused on the evolving role of schools to eliminate bullying and harassment, we know that schools and communities must work together to eliminate bullying and harassment in our communities and our community schools.
More information is coming after the forum. Please join us Thursday evening for this very important discussion.
Resources and Reports on Bullying from the Alabama School Connection
The Alabama Student Harassment Prevention Act: Did It Do What It Said It Would Do? A First Look – Alabama School Connection, June 2012.
Bullying in School – How to Get Real Help from the School for Your Child – Alabama School Connection, March 2012.
Alabama’s Schools Are Nearly Harassment-Free. We Need an Award – Alabama School Connection, October 2013