National study on bullying hits home for mid-Missouri

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MOKANE- A study out of the American Psychological Association links bullying and the victims' grades.  A local superintendent said mid-Missouri there are plenty of stories in mid-Missouri that show the state is no exception.

"I know dozens and dozens of them, where a student was struggling or something was going on" said Kevin Hillman, superintendent of the South Callaway R-II School District.

The study was published just the day before the Howard County Coroner conducted an inquest into the suicide of 17-year-old Kenneth Suttner. A jury determined harassment at school and work prompted his suicide. 

Arizona State researchers followed 383 Illinois kindergartners as they worked through high school and moved across the country (at one point located in 24 different states). They found 24 percent of the children were chronically bullied.  

The children had significantly lower grades and school engagement, the study found. 

However, it also found the 26 percent who suffered decreasing bullying showed fewer academic effects over time. It suggested children are capable of overcoming any negative impact bullying has on their academics.

Hillman cited state policies that require increased paperwork for every possible bullying incident. He said it allows administrators to track possible problems and intervene more quickly.

"It has really taken the pressure off of any one teacher, any one kid," Hillman said.

The Missouri state government's anti-bullying website does not provide a "model policy" for how school districts should handle bullying incidents. However, it does require parents of all parties be informed in addition to law enforcement if appropriate.

Hillman suggested parents should monitor who their children contact online after school, as he has found social media is an area that a lot bullying takes place.