School Bullying and Safety Part 1


Good afternoon. I’m Walt Bower and I’d
like to welcome you the Human Development Institute’s third fall
seminar. We welcome the participants who are joining us online as well as the
participants who are here with us at the University of Kentucky. Our presenters
will provide an opportunity for questions this afternoon and we welcome
questions from all of our participants. Please type your questions in the chat
box if you are online. Should you have any questions about CEUs you can contact
me. Please take a moment at the conclusion of the seminar to complete
our brief questionnaire. The evaluation will be sent to your email address after
the seminar. It’s really helpful as we plan for upcoming seminars now to introduce
today’s speakers: John Akers is the executive director of an Kentucky
Center for school safety. Sychara Fisher is an assistant professor
in school psychology at the University of Kentucky.
Zack Goblel is a school psychologist in the Scott County Schools. The title of
the seminar is school bullying students with disabilities and school safety. I’m
now gonna turn you over to our speakers. Thank you. Thank you
Thank You Walter. Good afternoon to everyone and let’s just get right into
it. If my clicker will work. Starting on a great foot. We’ll try it let’s not get
right into it we’ll just side here thank you hello. We’re gonna try this
again I’m John Akers I’m the director of the Kentucky Center for school safety
and in my background real quickly as I was a high school principal in Fayette
County for 25 years at Bryan station high school and Paul Laurence Dunbar
High School having done work at the winburn junior high school and it was a
junior high school and then Lexington junior high school so I been around the
corner a few times here in the Lexington area and I’ve been the director of the
Kentucky Center for school safety since December of 2000. So I’m going into my I
guess 18th year on this thing and I’d like to start off with a quote from the
former Secretary of Education in the US Department of Education Arne Duncan and
he looks at culture and climate of safety needs to be present in schools if
we’re going to really do something about violence and if we’re going to do
something about making sure that all kids and that’s a huge word I want to
use all the time every child can reach some kind of success in that. And
teachers can’t teach and students can’t learn if they feel unsafe and if they’re
in an environment that’s really not conducive for learning so he continues
to say any effort that we can put forth to promote safety and student well-being
also promotes academic the academic mission of a school. So that’s kind of a
backdrop for what I want to get into several years ago David
Karam who was the chair of the State Board of Education crafted a a statement
that the State Board bought into basically saying there’s no
tolerance for bullying in our state. Now I’m going to talk a little bit about
zero tolerance here in just a few minutes but the Department of Education
in conjunction with the state school board Association believes that there
should no but there should be no reason whatsoever that a kid should feel
harassed or bullied in our state. And so this is a call to arms to all principals
and teachers and staff members and schools to make sure that from 8 o’clock
to 3 o’clock we protect these kids the best way that we can. A couple of stats
here that I’d like to throw out to you which is kind of scary. In this case here
and this is a stat that’s about five years old it still makes a point that
160,000 kids per day will skip class because they’re afraid of some kind of
physical harm. Stat I pulled up a couple years ago when we were doing the program
looking at the bullying prevention task force that we had in our state that was
headed up by governor Beshear had a quote saying that there was over 20,000
kids that have been harassed or bullied in our state in the years 13-14 school
year that’s like four incidents every minute in our state. That’s uncalled for
period and so we have kids sometimes want to protect themselves in the of
course you know that in my line of work I’m I’m very tuned into school shooters
and things like this. Not every kid that brings a gun to school is looking to
shoot somebody but sometimes they bring a gun to school to protect themselves.
They see that as an equalizer sometimes because the bully is usually larger and
more mean and they can’t challenge the kid physically so they have to have what
sometimes they refer to as the great equalizer. Sometimes we say it to the
that students will start to use the verbage of I’m gonna bring a gun instead
of maybe not even having an actual weapon or anything I’m just using that
word it alone makes them feel stronger. It may get them in trouble also because
that’s a really strong word or strong thing to say within a school setting. But
that is the trend that we’ve seen a lot increase over the past couple of years
and and that’s so right Zach and that’s a call for teachers to be a little bit
more alert to things like that because that kids hurting some way they need to
find out a little bit more about that. So here was a you know statistic that
really shocked me several years ago and I’ve used it in all these presentations
here that 70 percent of those folks who have been arrested for hate crimes
are under the age of 19. That blew me away and that that gets into and
I hate to say it you know this way but where did these kids learn this behavior.
Sometimes people say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree I don’t know
if that’s the case here but the bottom line here is that the sad
statistic is something that educators and school psychologists and folks that
work with kids need to be aware of. Now let’s get into defining bullying here
now I will tell you bullying definitions are like noses everybody has their own
kind of version of one. I’m gonna try to show you just some basic information
here from my standpoint it’s an unwanted intentional act and I always underline
the word intentional that’s been eliminated in the law in our state at
this time I’m trying to get it back in there but it’s unwanted and intentional
acts directed toward another person. Usually it’s repeated it doesn’t have to
be though and usually it involves an imbalance of power. Now back in this was
probably around 2007 the General Assembly passed a law called the good
the the Golden Rule Act basically and it’s codified into K rs.150 158 156 and
basically if harassment and bullying activities trend over towards the felony
side then school officials are required to get with law enforcement officials
and pursue it legally. And these are these are indicators from chapter 508 I
don’t mean get to legalese here with you but this is where it’s found in the the
Crim code the Criminal Code of our state that if you are involved in any kind of
an assault and sometimes bullying takes place with assaults, menacing, wanton
endangerment, terroristic threatening, criminal abuse, and also stalking. Any one
of those criteria that that that spill over into the felony area must be
addressed by school officials and law enforcement officials. Yes
*Audience*Are any of those it seems girls engage in different kinds of
bullying behavior which is verbal to any of those qualify under that. *John* Yeah usually your
terroristic threat now I’m gonna beat you up, or you better not come to school
tomorrow, you better bring some money in tomorrow, or else I’m gonna beat you up
in the bathroom. Things like that. Now yeah yeah in the menacing thing as well
and also and I’m gonna talk about this in a few minutes but there’s a lot of
electronic bullying that takes place here too that would be coming in to the
harassment level as well but when these will get to the level of where they are
an assault – for example or if a person is threatening another person to do
bodily harm and it’s you know not a joke it’s a serious thing then that’s when
law enforcement needs to be involved with this. Did that answer your question?
good thank you. Okay Kentucky’s definition which is codified
in 158 148 and I’ll just read it for you as well: As used in this section bullying
means any unwanted verbal physical or social behavior among students that
involve a real or perceived power of imbalance and is repeated or has the
potential to be repeated. Some school administrators have problem with the
word perceived in this thing because you know how do you know it is or it isn’t
sometimes and and we’re going to talk a little bit more about that but they go
further with this definition and say: Where do we have jurisdiction as far as
the schools are concerned to deal with bullying and that obviously is on school
premises on school sponsored try it you know transportation school buses field
trips things like this and at our school sponsored events. And anything that or
anything that’s number two here that disrupts the educational process. A kid
can’t be in class looking over his shoulders all the time afraid that
someone’s going to be going to harass them harangue them a little bit. Now
here’s something that I think I found out that I shouldn’t say I think I know
a lot of school administrators appreciate when we get into how do you
know the difference between peer conflict and bullying. Under peer
conflict you see equal power it happens occasionally accidentally equal
emotional reaction not seeking power or attention there’s
remorse usually involved and there’s an effort to resolve the problem.
Okay the opposite is very true when it comes to bullying the imbalance of power
happens repeatedly purposeful strong emotional reaction on the part of the
victim. There’s that power in control thing and there’s no remorse they want
to blame the victim as being the one who is the reason why the bully is acting
the way he or she is. Supplemental requirements when it comes to addressing
bullying incidences. Okay back in that 158 148 there are some guidelines that
are spell out on what schools must do which includes identifying documenting
and reporting all incidences. You should not as a school administrator ignore
reports that come in all your be being bullied go back to class or boys
will be boys. Those are archaic and cannot be used anymore. All
administrators must investigate every single incident that’s reported to them
and go through this protocol. So we identify that there that we’ve had a an
incident reported to us we’re going to document that we’re going to report it
we’re going to investigate this and we’re going to respond to that. We’re
going to tell the kid who reported this to this that we’re going to protect you
from any kind of retaliation. We will explain the requirements of the code of
conduct on the bullying issue to all stakeholders; Parents, teachers, kids, and
provide training to school employees and I’m gonna talk a little bit about that
in the second here too. But we’re going to provide information regarding the
consequences as well. If you don’t have a meaningful consequence in some cases
wherein a student misbehaves you’re not gonna change the misbehavior. Now that
that that consequence can be certainly negotiated to the point of whatever
affects one kid to. Zach that you want to say something? From working in a school
sometimes the biggest concerns I see from parents related to how bullying is
being addressed directly is that they don’t always get an outcome from the
school of what’s been done. Part of that’s because we have to protect all
student confidentiality and so even as the student as the bully you can’t
necessarily say exactly what their consequence was. So
as you mentioned providing information about the consequences everyone should
know the code of conduct everyone should know what things could potentially be
done or what efforts could be made, but we can’t always from a school
perspective provide you direct feedback with what exactly is happening to that
student that has been the bully in that case. I know that’s really frustrating
for parents cuz they want to know something’s being done and what’s being
done how it’s being fixed, but the reality is that we can’t always provide
and share all those details unless that students parent gives the access. It says
yes you can share that with someone else which in many cases they don’t grow as
they want their own their kids own. So what we do is we like to share what’s in
our code of conduct and says that these these are the things that we how we
typically address situations like this. And just give more in a hypothetical of
how things are typically done. Just because giving direct specifics of how
you’re addressing that situation violates that other students rights,
which is very frustrating because your child has been the one that’s been
violated here and the one that’s had the bullying perpetrated against them. So
it’s a really fine line you have to walk sometimes to make sure that all
stakeholders really have an understanding of what’s really occurring
there. And it gets to be frustrating sometimes then the kid who’s doing the
bullying gets put back in class the very next day and the parents wanting to see
some kind of suspension or removal to an in-school suspension program or
something like that. But sometimes because of the IEP were
unable to do that and so these are complications that occur that school
administrators have to deal with when it comes down to the parent wants to see
something to be a something that has been done visibly like a suspension for
example and sometimes it’s difficult to get into that. There’s also there have
also been cases that I’ve seen where school districts have been sued because
after some type of bullying incident right they don’t keep the kids separated
and they put the two kids on the same bus to go home together and they ended
up obviously the bully and their friends ended up causing more physical harm to
the victims so thinking about even if you can’t share
making sure that you know your your separating them and that sort of thing
is really important or else that can be legal consequences for that. Your so
rights care very good oh. Yeah okay his question was could I explain further as
I guess situations and where we could not remove a student from a class who
has an IEP who was the perpetrator of the bullies. That yes okay good. Like that
that student may have already exhausted their ten days that we were allowed to
suspend and and if it’s a stay put situation where we’re required if it’s
in a beedi self-contained rooms for example we only have one room where we
where we can put the kid. Otherwise I think in some cases we are pretty well
hamstrung as far as that’s concerned but it would make sense for us to try to
find creative ways to do that. Pull the aid out and take the kid one-on-one to
another room for that period of time when the other student who’s the victim
is in that room cetera, but there’s some times when you look in some of your
school districts where they have very very limited resources. They have no
choice they have no choice, but your question makes a good discussion at the
school-based level. What can we do to try to avoid those things? Okay what efforts
are being made in the schools right now and I’d like to add something to this
right here I’ve been involved as an expert witness in about five cases in
our state that dealt with bullying situations and one of the issues that
comes up that that schools sometimes get dinged on if I can use that term is that
they haven’t really taught their faculty and staff what the board of education
policies are as far as bullying is concerned. So training at the school
level is very important every year to review that with your faculty and staff
sometimes these these laws get revised or these board policies get revised.
The
state based Council policies get revised, and so it
doesn’t hurt to have the update training on that. But there’s there’s got to be
this awareness training and it can’t be just like we use in Kentucky a
one-and-done thing here. We need to remind staff like every six
weeks and kids every six weeks throughout the entire school year our
emphasis about every child has the right to be in our schools without being
bullying harassment, harangue and make the appropriate reactions I guess when you
see something like that say something to the school administrator to a teacher to
some trusted adult to get that child some help when it comes to being
subjected to bullying issues. We need to have awareness assemblies and there’s
some wonderful assemblies out there that kids can not only enjoy but it also has
a a real good meaningful message about treating one another with respect. We
provide case DSS as our acronym for the Kentucky Center for school safety has
professional development programs that we deal with as far as bullying
prevention programs. We have the respect program that we do free but there’s the
ovae’s program that’s out there that the Department of Education uses in the
school districts also to help bullying prevention programs. So we have at one
time we did a webinar with KSA on bullying and other workshops that we’re
involved. You said something I think was interesting you said if you see
something say something and that’s what a lot of times we tell kids. You know
whatever you’re seeing if you’re a bystander or if you’re just oh if you
can witnessed it or if you’re experiencing yourself say something. The
way that the verbage is kind of changed now within the school setting is that we
often tell kids and parents if you see something send something instead of say
it. Students aren’t as comfortable with a verbal interaction sometimes especially
if they’re the one being victimized, but they’re a lot more comfortable behind
technology as most people are of being able to just send a quick message or
send a text over mention it in some other fashion through with social media
or just even like emailing an anonymous tipline or something. What we see is that
we get you’d a lot more detailed feedback from that too because sometimes
students get nervous when they try and tell you. Or a
parent leaves out some things that they wish they had told you. It’s also helpful
to say send something because that kind of provide the paper trail a little bit
it provides documentation that you were mentioning this bullying you’re
mentioning that things are happening, and I’m someone who works in a school system
but I want to protect my parents and kids so I’m saying absolutely. Like you
make sure that you have documented that you’ve told people because it’s
important that it’s being addressed for sure so so we try and change the
verbiage a little bit. And I’m glad you brought this up Zach that’s gonna
with me segue me into a the slide a little later here. Our Center has exactly what
you’re talking about we provide for school districts an online tip line
where kids can be anonymous and not only for bullying issues but any kind of
dangerous behaviors when we piloted this program the first time the first two
hits we had on that were suicide ideation. And so any kind of dangerous
behaviors and you’re so right kids don’t want to go face-to-face with adults like
that. Not even their parents and sometimes but they live in that virtual
world and so sometimes that’s a good way to get after it. I want to talk about a
zero tolerance for just a minute. Bullying doesn’t stop when the bell
rings at 3 o’clock and it doesn’t stop after the kids graduate.
Bullying is something that goes 360 for what 24/7 365 and and so we want people
to realize from the school educators standpoint that we need help in the
community to help try to address these issues too and you’ll hear that theme a
couple times through here. But when I get into zero tolerance policy to me I’ve
always told people zero tolerance doesn’t mean you forego your common
sense. There aren’t two situations that are exactly the same I found out over
the years so one size doesn’t fit all. So zero tolerance to me means any report of
bullying it needs to be investigated. You don’t leave one off you get them all
investigated thoroughly as can be, and then you make the appropriate
decisions based on the facts. If you have just a little minor verbal confrontation
that you handle in one way as opposed to a physical assault. So there are
different things that you need to be involved with, but I think sometimes some
people think that if a kid gets caught bullying something regardless of the
severity of it then they should receive the maximum punishment. So we need to let
the crime or the the punishment fit crime so to speak. If I can step in if
you don’t mind sure go right ahead go back to the last slide we glad to. So
this started the first line that’s there this is not just a school issue it’s a
lifelong issue it doesn’t stop after graduation. Or it doesn’t stop after 3:30
p.m. either. If you look back at the definition of what bullying says though
the bullying definition indicates that it’s at school on transportation to and
from a school or related events or at a school related event. So the definition
of bullying doesn’t always include social media at home on a weekend or
after hours. So a lot of times parents and kids will come in and say things
like my kids being bullied all these things are being sent online all these
messages are being sent. That doesn’t fall into the category of bullying that
falls under harassment and like who you were saying earlier um sometimes under
terroristic threatening. That’s more of a criminal thing and not necessarily a
bullying thing that we can address. We put the effort forth to help remedy into
the situation but that doesn’t necessarily fall under the bullying
policy or the state mandated through the state law of what bullying is either. We
know that that’s exactly what it appears to be but the way that you address it
has to be a little bit different based on the hours that it occurs. We have to
be frustrating and then and that end it’s a major frustration because if it
happens on the weekends the parents will call us and say do something about it.
And we can’t because it happened at on Saturday afternoon in their homes and so
that becomes a police matter and and but yet they’re saying well they don’t do
anything about it at the school and sometimes that’s a frustration as well.
Good point Zach. To what extent is the problem in our state. I say it is the
number one problem that we have in our state yeah I think the media spends a
lot of time on unfortunately the marshal situation that happened last January, but
when we have kids every four minutes in our state being bullied in one form or
fashion around here that’s the five thousand pound elephant that people
don’t talk an awful lot about and I’m glad we’re talking about it today. 80%
based on our research 80% of this bullying is taking place electronically
and that gets back to what Zach was saying a few minutes ago. We don’t know
that it’s going on it’s not like it was 60 years ago where the boys are you know
beating on the boys and with stuff like that these things are
being done electronically 24/7 and oftentimes this the parents aren’t aware
of that oftentimes the adults as far as the teachers are concerned we don’t know
about that as well. And and in our state I was sharing this
earlier before we started our session we’ve assessed over 1,000 schools in our
state out of 1200 schools and of course we get into asking questions about
bullying issues etc and from our research that we found interviewing the
kids around there girls are out bullying the boys 3 to 1, and it’s into this issue
about what they refer to as relational aggression. Very very little physical
fights among girls we have that occasionally but more often it’s
exclusion, rumors, trying to destroy someone’s reputation. And in fact in
Bullitt County back in 2007 that it resulted in the three girls taking their
lives because they couldn’t deal with the harassment anymore. So it’s a very
serious situation in our state and again it seems as though schools and I
mentioned this a minute ago seems like schools are being asked to handle this
community problem. We need to partner with the community that’s for sure but
we can’t be seen as the only ones that can handle this thing. As a school based
practitioner and that’s what a lot of what I’m talking about they just what I
see in the school directly and what I experienced as a school psychologist but
I’ll have students that come in for counseling sessions that want to talk
about things or they just want to come in and report something sometimes and
especially if it’s girls that I’m speaking with first thing that I’ll say
is do you have snapchat. Do you have facebook? Do you have Twitter? Do you have
Instagram? If these things are occurring on that you know tell me about it and
then I’ll sometimes say well let me see it, and then then you can get a real
understanding of what their own role it and it is – if they’ve had a role or if
it’s more just being unprovoked and things are coming on to them at all. And
it’s interesting to see what students will show you and what they won’t show
you and when they clam up and decide it oh this isn’t something I want to tell
you about anymore. So it’s interesting to get those kind of perspectives. Well
let’s talk about cyberbullying here. It’s rampant in our state, it’s rampant and I
will say this and I just because my age I I don’t want to come across as an old
fogey and stuff like that but I did have a conversation with a group of
parents in I won’t mention the county it’s irrelevant and I asked them how
many of you all buy cell phones for your kids and all their hands went up. And I
said okay how many of you all pay for the monthly bills and this thing at all
the hands went up. I said how many of you all actually have those phones being
charged in your bedroom at night as opposed to in the kid’s bedroom.
No hands went up and I said I shouldn’t have said this but I said shame on you.
And I said number one if you think your child’s going to sleep when they go to
their bedroom at 10 or 11 o’clock at night with that cellphone on they’re not.
And so I had I had a mother come up to me and challenge me she said well my
daughter’s different she’s an eighth grade girl and she’s a good girl we have
a good relationship yada yada yada you know the way I’m going with this. And so
I said do me a favor sometime just let it charge in your bedroom one night just
leave it on and so she did that night and she coming back the next day and I
wished I knew how to record this because it would be great for you to hear.
She said that phone went off all night long you know how buzzes and vibrates on
it vibrated all night long and she looked at it was her friends texting her
two three and four o’clock in the morning. I’ve seen the heads go up and
down people in the audience the audience here saying yes it down to this thing
but some of the language that the mom was reading was blowing her mind and
saying I’m gonna have conversations with their mothers later on today. This girl’s
not a bad girl that’s not the point the point is is that these communication
stay on continually and once something kids get on a roll,
many mean things can be said and probably conversations that parents
would rather their kids not have with them. So we do have ways to help parents
understand how to look at cellphones. How to look where the kids are on social
media, and be aware of how kids can hide apps on their phones that the parents
thinks this is a calculator and you tap it twice and it becomes snapchat or
something like that well I can get into that all day long.
Facebook problems, out of school threats are online we had 294 threats in our
state after the Marshall shooting between January 23rd and April 30th.
294 threats more than half of those came in on line and so we’re asking parents
just like what you’re saying if you see something on your kids phone
say something. it can be of a Boolean nature obviously or send us something
that’s for sure. The Attorney General’s Office has worked with us quite a bit
when we find out something like that they will get what they call an
administrative subpoena and go to Facebook and go to snapchat whatever and
find out the IP addresses so we can find out who these kids are who are sending
these anonymous threats. This is the Facebook security folks then this is not
a plug for them but they’ve been really wonderful to work with and yes yes we’ll
help you we’ll help you they’ll shut down a site immediately for us and help
us out. So whose problem is this it’s everyone’s problem I think Zak was
talking about this Sycarah certainly buys into this as well. You know you
heard that African proverb that it takes a village to raise a kid well it also
takes a village to keep the kids safe. And so we’re asking for you know
school officials students parents churches you name it all of us to come
together to see what we can do to try to deal with this number one problem in our
state. Then and I I want to show you this and I’m not trying to wash the school’s
hands of dealing with bullying and that’s not the purpose but I want to show you
what we’re dealing with. There are two hundred 24 hours in a day times 365 days
I didn’t put a leap year in there so we have 8700 plus hours schools are in
session usually seven hours a day for 180 days so that’s 1260 hours. So there are
7,500 hours a year all right about 86 84 85 86 % that the schools have no
influence on and this is where we get into the community issue and get into
the parent issues that we would like for them to really help us help their kids.
Does that make sense to you help us help them so we have some prevention ideas.
This is a high profile issue and I will restate this again principals must
demonstrate good faith efforts to investigate any and all reports a bully
and you don’t let anyone slide. And it’s important to have some kind of
prevention plan in place and we were talking about the respect program that
you you know you can get off our website or the ovae’s program there needs to be
a prevention plan in every school to address these issues and this plan needs
to be seen as an ongoing living plan that goes
on for all 180 days in the school year. So let’s review some ideas on this thing
and I’m gonna turn it over to Sycarah talk about bullying populations and
here’s the clicker. I’m just gonna say if there’s any questions that people have
as we go feel free to stop us or people that are watching online as well feel
free to send a question in the chat box and someone will read it to us and we’ll
answer it as we go I don’t think any of this mine to be stopped and our train of
thought and we’ll try to get back where we were but we think we may not notice.
But we’ll make it work yeah. All right so I’m gonna talk about bullying and some
special populations so thinking about students with disabilities thinking
about different racial and ethnic groups gender identity and sexual orientation.
So first we’re going to start talking about students with disabilities so
children with disabilities are 2 to 3 times more likely to be bullied than
their non-disabled peers and one study actually shows that 60% of students with
disabilities report being bullied regularly compared to 25% of all
students. So this is a big problem that should be looked out for this is a
special population that you should consider when thinking about your
bullying and your prevention efforts.