Discipline, counseling, information campaigns — amid national fears, local schools use all three approaches to combat bullying.
The dangers of school bullying have been an ongoing theme in recent years. This month, Texas was featured in a bullying and LGBT-discrimination study released this month by Human Rights Watch. The Telegram reported on several months of alleged bullying that culminated in a recent assault at Temple High School.
In order to prevent such attacks, or discrimination and isolation, administrators in Temple and Belton have developed anti-bullying and counseling policies to protect students.
“The biggest thing for us is hearing about it,” said Matthew LeBlanc, communications director for the Temple Independent School District. “We need the student or the parent ... to tell a teacher or tell an administrator about it.”
Kim Christy-Anderson, executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Belton Independent School District, said that all of the district’s counselors have master’s degrees and they pursue ongoing training to be ready to help students in crisis.
“If you see a sudden change in a student’s behavior we ask that they talk to counselors right away to see if there’s any support we can provide,” Christy-Anderson said. “We do take all (complaints) seriously.”
LeBlanc also said all bullying complaints are taken very seriously.
“Once (bullying) is reported, the district assigns the complaint to a campus administrator,” LeBlanc said. “They follow up and try to contact any and all involved.”
TISD students who are found to be responsible for bullying are disciplined according to the district’s code of conduct.
BISD has a program called “Tigers Don’t Bully” that offers resources for students in distress.
“It’s a district-wide program that’s branded on our mascot,” said Kyle DeBeer, communications director for BISD. “We have resources for parents; we have resources for students on each campus.”
“If a parent raises a concern about something they see as bullying, even if it doesn’t fit the legal definition of bullying, . . . it’s still something we’re going to take seriously,” DeBeer said. “It’s still something that’s going to be addressed.”
DeBeer said that students who feel discriminated against will find plenty of support from school counselors.
“We want every student in school to feel welcome, to have a place where they feel safe,” DeBeer said.
Christy-Anderson said that if students are concerned that they might be picked on or discriminated against they should talk to a counselor.
“We always have a few children trying to figure out where they fit,” she said.
LeBlanc also emphasized that the TISD counselors are ready and willing to help students who are in crisis.
“All of our counselors are highly trained in mental-health first aid, which includes suicide awareness, detection and prevention,” he expanded in an email. “We also actively let our students know that if they need to talk about anything in a safe, private environment, they should see our counselors.”