Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

May 19, 2013

Bullying reporting now required

Schools must track bullying incidents under new law.

Oliver Jackson — known in the music world as DjBigO317 — remembers being bullied by the kids on his high school football team for being small.

He told his coaches about it, but they brushed it off and told him to do the same.

Now, his 6-year-old daughter is battling issues with bullies at her school in Indianapolis, and he won’t let it go.

He is on a crusade to end bullying, and he’s taking the message beyond his daughter’s school.

He partnered with Kokomo artist kCAne MarkCO to launch an anti-bullying music tour that will travel to schools throughout the United States.

But, he said, that alone won’t fix the problem. It needs to be attacked on all fronts. That’s why he recently got behind Indiana’s latest anti-bullying legislation that redefines bullying and ramps up requirements for schools.

Jackson passed petitions around months ago garnering support for the bill.

His actions paid off. Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law May 11.

State Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis) spent years crafting and reworking the legislation. To see it pass was gratifying, he said.

“I am ecstatic about it,” he said. “It is a huge problem. It is, to a certain degree, a public health issue. It’s a mental health issue.”

Porter said Indiana was, at one time, ranked third in the nation for bullying incidents. He said when he started looking at the issue, one in four Hoosier students reported being bullied in the last 30 days. One in 20 had missed school because of bullying.

“This is something we can’t put our heads in the sand about,” he said. “It’s real. It affects us.”

The updated law redefines bullying to include bullying that happens through social media websites, text messages or other electronic media.

It also serves to hold schools accountable, Porter said. It’s specific in what it asks schools to do.

The law requires each school corporation to report the number and nature of bullying incidents that occur within the district on its annual performance report that’s available to the public.

It requires schools to have specific and detailed bullying prevention programs, investigation and reporting procedures and discipline rules. Those discipline rules must outline the use of follow-up services and support services for the victim and bullying education for the bully.

The law mandates more training for school personnel and volunteers. The training is designed to help them learn the school’s bullying prevention program.

State Rep. Mike Karickhoff (R-Kokomo) said Porter’s legislation had widespread support across party lines.  

“It’s a good bill,” he said. “I can’t see the downside of it.”

The state was not breaking new ground on this, he said. Most schools already had some procedures and programs in place, he said. The law provides a common language and set of guidelines for them to go by.

Maconaquah School Corp. has had an anti-bullying policy in place since 2005. That policy defines what bullying is and establishes reporting procedures in its administrative guidelines.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t clean that up and make it better,” Superintendent Doug Arnold said. “We certainly want to do everything we can to prevent kids from moving in the direction of hurting themselves.”

Both Arnold and Kokomo-Center School officials wonder how the districts are going to accurately report the number of bullying incidents for the annual performance report.

Every bullying incident requires a judgment call. Does it actually rise to the level of bullying?

First they have to show that it’s more than a single incident. There has to be a pattern, said Dawn McGrath, director of programs for Kokomo-Center Schools.

They also have to make a judgment on intent. Did the student intend to harass, ridicule or humiliate another student?

“That’s tricky,” McGrath said.

If schools aren’t reporting bullying incidents the same way, then how can there be an apples-to-apples comparison between districts?

“I know there are going to be issues with the data, whether it’s underreporting or overreporting,” Arnold said. “We’ll just have to report honestly what we have and see how it shakes out.”

Arnold said he knows the intent of the legislation is positive.

The public has been turning to its legislators for nearly 15 years to address the bullying issue.

Georgia was the first state in the country to pass anti-bullying legislation in 1999 – after the Columbine shootings in Colorado.

From 1999 to 2010, 120 bills were passed in state legislatures across the country that either introduced or amended education or criminal statutes to address bullying and related behaviors in schools, according to a 2011 U.S. Department of Education report.

By 2011, 46 states had bullying laws. Only Hawaii, Michigan, Montana and South Dakota had none, the report stated.

It’s unclear right now how effective the legislation is across the country. Some states, however, are rethinking laws they passed years ago.

A formal report conducted in 2008 examining bullying in Washington schools concluded that despite legislation enacted in 2002, school districts did not appear to be addressing bullying uniformly in the state, and bullying had not declined much since the first bullying legislation was passed, the DOE report states.

Jackson is worried about the same thing happening here.

“The state is content,” Jackson said. “They passed a law. I’m waiting to see how they are going to do this. I’m curious to see how it’s going to get enforced.”

He just hopes schools will do the right thing and take the law seriously. It’s an urgent issue, he said.

“Every day you drag your feet, somebody is out there seriously thinking about hurting themselves,” he said.

 

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Kokomo Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • 7 charged in Howard Co. following prescription drug probe

    Two doctors and five employees of the Drug and Opiate Drug Recovery Network (DORN) on South LaFountain Street were arrested earlier today as part of a long-term prescription drug investigation.

    July 25, 2014

  • Escapee Escapee apprehended in Carroll County

    BURROWS — The inmate who escaped from the Logansport State Hospital Thursday night was apprehended in Carroll County late Friday morning. Carroll County Sheriff's Department Major Tobe Leazenby said Christopher J. Robbins, 23, Medaryville, was appreh

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drug Probe 01 Doctors arrested in cash-for-pills probe Two doctors and five employees affiliated with a Drug and Opiate Recovery Network office on South LaFountain Street were arrested early Friday as part of a long-term prescription drug investigation.The addiction-treatment doctors allegedly wrote pres

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Eric Peters Cross-country mission PERU — Eric Peters is on a 2,700-mile mission.As a 23-year-old Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, Peters is used to missions. But this one is personal.Thirty-five days ago, he started a cross-country trek from his home in Clark, New Jersey, that

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - KT072614 - wagoner mug Former doctor to forfeit $1.2 million Former Kokomo doctor Donald Wagoner, who recently was convicted and sentenced for over-prescribing pain medication, has agreed to pay $1.2 million as settlement in a civil suit brought by the Howard County Prosecutor’s Office.Prosecutor Mark McCann f

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - KT072514 - Gregory Konrath mugshot - CLG Trial set for surgeon accused of plotting murder PERU — An orthopedic surgeon at Dukes Memorial Hospital, who is accused of plotting to murder his ex-wife and make it look like a suicide, is set to face a jury trial.In Miami County Circuit Court Thursday, Gregory Konrath, 48, was scheduled to face

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Deputies arrest four on drug charges Howard County sheriff’s deputies arrested four people on numerous charges after deputies went to a home west of Kokomo to serve a warrant late Thursday.Deputies went to the home at 7610 W. 220 South shortly after 11 p.m. in search of a man wanted on

    July 26, 2014

  • Pence discusses HIP 2.0 at Community Howard Gov. Mike Pence recently visited the Community Howard Regional Health campus, sharing with patients, physicians and staff his administration’s new Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0.The program, which was submitted to the federal government at the end of June

    July 26, 2014

  • Section of Market St. to close Monday Market Street will be closing between Superior and Sycamore Streets in downtown Kokomo Monday beginning at 7 a.m. for a minimum of one week. The closure will allow contractors to work on the Market Street Sewer Separation Project, which includes the

    July 25, 2014

  • Feds plan review over Medicaid backlog INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Federal officials are reviewing Indiana’s procedures for enrolling residents in Medicaid after finding the state had 80,000 low-income residents awaiting approval in May.Cindy Mann, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicai

    July 25, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries