Bullying: SCPS is Proactive
Encourages Parents to Work as a Team to Teach our Students Social Responsibility
With school violence and suicide due to bullying as top headlines in our nation’s news, we want you to know that Shelby County Public Schools is not immune to this national problem.
We want our community to know that while we have reactive steps in place to respond after bullying occurs, our plan is first and foremost a systemic one, not a reactive one, starting with our mission.
Two thirds of the mission statement of Shelby County Public Schools addresses the overall idea of educating students so that they can participate in the democratic process as adults, learn to respect the rights of others and interact in a civil manner. Our mission statement is: “preparing wise students who master standards, lead by example, and embrace social responsibility.” SCPS has a systemic and proactive approach to eliminate the opportunities for bullying in our schools. Does bullying still occur? Yes. Do we work with individual students and families? Yes.
If your child is bullying others or if your child is a victim of a bully, it is our hope that you and your students feel empowered to reach out and talk to teachers, school administration and counselors to help make a difference in the lives of our students.
SCPS has a strong bullying/hazing policy. We seek to change the paradigm of behavior and work ethic in our schools, not just the reaction to everyday events. We empower our students to meet the community’s behavior expectations through our Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) system.
PBIS is an internationally recognized system of rewards and prevention. By creating an environment where adults and children model positive behavior and where positive behavior is recognized and rewarded, we seek to change the pattern of responding only to negative behavior with negative attention and punishment. Working with professionals, our staff at every school has worked to create systems to teach, acknowledge and reward positive behaviors so that students feel safe and able to create positive relationships. Some of the guiding principles of our PBIS systems include:
- Every child can learn proper behavior.
- Stepping in early can prevent more serious behavior problems.
- Each child is different and schools need to provide many kinds of behavior support.
- How schools teach behavior should be based on research and science.
- Following a child’s behavioral progress is important.
- Schools must gather and use data to make decisions about behavior problems.
Our schools have worked to create three tiers of support for student and staff. Tier One is an overall statement of behavior expectations and rewards for students. Tier Two provides an “extra layer of support” for those who struggle with behavior issues in school. Tier Three is a level that individualizes the response to students who need extra supports based on behavioral issues.
By utilizing PBIS, SCPS is working to change the paradigm within the school by encouraging positive behavior and utilizing positive rewards. SCPS believes that every student and staff member deserves a safe environment in which to work and learn. PBIS is one proactive strategy to achieve this.
We recognize that sometimes bullying does occur, in spite of our efforts. Bullying is defined as “unwanted verbal, physical, or social behavior among students that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and is repeated or has the potential to be repeated.” When bullying occurs on school premises, on school-sponsored transportation, or at a school event and when bullying disrupts the education process, the school and parents will work together to change the trajectory of the bullying behavior. SCPS encourages parents to work with school and district administrators and teachers to help students feel safe.
One excellent resource for bullying, stopbullying.org suggests the following when you think your child is being bullied:
- Listen to and focus on the needs of the child. Both the victim of bullying and the bully will need some attention.
- Assure the child being bullied that it is not their fault.
- Give some strategies to help deal with the confrontation and bullying.
- Be persistent. Bullying does not end overnight. Adults have to be vigilant and ask questions and help students cope through difficult times.
- Follow up. Continue to promote positive behavior and reactions.
- Avoid the following mistakes when advising youth about bullying:
- Never tell the child to ignore the bullying.
- Do not blame the child for being bullied. Even if he or she provoked the bullying, no one deserves to be bullied.
- Do not tell the child to physically fight back against the kid who is bullying. It could get the child hurt, suspended, or expelled.
- Parents should resist the urge to contact the other parents involved. It may make matters worse. School or other officials can act as mediators between parents.
Some parents advise their children to not report what they see. We disagree. If you have a child who is a witness to bullying, encourage them to report the behavior to a teacher or other staff member. While we cannot guarantee anonymity, we assure you of our effort to protect the confidentiality of those making the report.
Parents, teachers, administrators, board members and district leaders are a community team. But sometimes we need even more help. That is why SCPS also employs mental health professionals, behavior consultants and provides professional counseling services to help students.
Megan Kelley Hall authored a book entitled “Dear Bully”. Seventy people told their stories of bullying. After all of the research, Megan Kelley Hall learned this: “School administrators can’t say it’s up to the parents. Parents can’t say it’s up to the teachers. Teachers can’t say it’s not their job. And kids can’t say, ‘I was too afraid to tell.’ Every single one of us has to play our role if we’re serious about putting an end to the madness. We are all responsible. We must be.”
Informative and helpful websites:
PBIS.org -- the system used and embraced by SCPS.
http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/08rs/HB91.htm -- often referred to as the "Bullying Bill" (now codified as KRS 158.156), was passed during the 2008 legislative session. The law requires school districts to have plans, policies, and procedures to deal with measures for assisting students who are engaged in disruptive and disorderly behavior.
http://policy.ksba.org/Chapter.aspx?distid=122 -- Shelby County Public Schools has strong policy and procedure regarding bullying/hazing/cyberbullying/menacing/ stalking and harassing communication. You can see it on our website under Staff/Shelby Policies and Procedures (KSBA Online)/ type in Chapter 9: students and 09.422.
anti-bullying internet site-- free support to parents and schools
https://kycss.org/index2.php-- Shelby County Public Schools works closely with organizations like this one to promote safe schools. This past fall SCPS was given a school safety award by this organization.