School district officials target bullying

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Los Alamitos Unified School District officials are working on the formation of a bullying prevention program for the district’s schools. The district’s Discipline Committee began talking about developing a bullying prevention program a few years ago.

A task force, comprised of school and community representatives, began meeting during the last school year and through the summer broke into subcommittees to get a program started.

Addressing the problem from the point of view of the bully, victim and bystander is what Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Dr. Sherry Kropp hopes for.

“It’s been on our radar for a while,” Kropp said.

“With technology and cyberbullying, it’s much more complex a problem than it used to be,”

Bullying can be done in physical forms such as hitting or kicking someone, or even threatening to do it, or non-verbal forms, such as invading someone’s personal space. Relationship bullying can be the refusal to speak to someone.

The program is expected to start sometime during the current school year and be fully implemented districtwide during the 2011-12 school year, Kropp said.

Full implementation of the anti-bullying program will include a curriculum for all grades and board policies on bullying.

Once in place, professional development for teachers, staff and community members will begin.

An Internet safety curriculum is being discussed along with more stringent disciplinary procedures for the bully and a support mechanism for the victim as well as the bystander.

Helping the victim realize that what happened isn’t their fault is one of the signs of a quality program.

Creating an atmosphere where victims know where to go for help, making the bully aware that what they did was wrong and educating bystanders to help the victim and stop the bullying will all be part of the program when fully implemented.

Kropp said the curriculum could be chosen as early as October when the subcommittees meet with the task force as a whole. If the task force approves the work of the subcommittees, then the proposal will be taken to the board of education for approval.

As programs are approved by the board during the current school year, they will be implemented, Kropp said.

“We want to be on the forefront of this,” Kropp said. “When it occurs, we want to be able to respond and have policies in place to deal with it.”

Kropp said one of the district’s six goals for this school year is providing a safe environment for all students. “We were aggressive in getting a substance abuse program started at the high school and now on our middle school campuses. Now bullying is our concern,” Kropp said. “We want to make sure that the bullying problem is taken care of.”

School district officials target bullying