Columbia Schools Pleased With Bully Prevention
COLUMBIA - Columbia school officials said Wednesday they are happy with the programs in place to prevent bullying. With a perceived rise in student bullying nationwide, they said they wouldn't make any significant changes to their programs. In fact, they believe they've been ahead of the curve.
"The school district has actually been very proactive (in bully prevention)," said Columbia Public Schools Community Relations Director Michelle Baumstark. "We've had our policy in place since 2007, and actually that's a revised policy in 2007. We added cyberbullying to be part of our policy."
Baumstark said Columbia was among the first to include the issue of cyberbullying--bullying among students via new technology, like Facebook and MySpace. Baumstark also said policies are in place to deal with bullying that happens away from school. She said bullying can happen away from school and still have an effect on the educational environment.
Hickman principal Dr. Tracey Conrad said bullying at Hickman is dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The policies include mediation between students and, if the case is extreme, the students can sign no-contact forms. Hickman guidance counselor Leigh Spence also said the school tries to integrate kids as much as possible, saying it is less likely to see bullying when kids actually get the chance to know each other.
The Columbia Council PTA has bullying on the agenda for their monthly meeting on October 22. "Based upon recent unfortunate events in the news, bullying is a topic of discussion," said PTA President Mary Flatt. Flatt pointed out that bullying wasn't a new discussion topic, but that recent events brought it to the forefront. "We want to make sure we feel schools are addressing bullying in a positive manner," she said.
The nationwide coverage of bullying began recently after several student suicides may have stemmed from those students being bullied. One Ohio school district is even facing a lawsuit because families of four students who took their own lives over the last four years due to bullying say the district could have done more to prevent it.
Columbia officials said they were aware of the national news, but said they would continue with the programs currently in place.