Archived Story

Brandywine tackles cyber bullying

Published 11:41pm Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Students in Brandywine Community Schools need to be careful about the things they post on social websites while outside of school.

If those posts are deemed inappropriate and find their way into school, students could be punished, according to a proposed anti-bullying policy being developed at Brandywine Schools.

“When they (students) start talking about it at school and if they are going to make threats about doing things like that at school then we can and should deal with it because it becomes a disruption,” Brandywine Supt. John Jarpe said.
Brandywine already has an anti-bullying policy in place, but the district is revising the policy to become compliant with a state law passed late last year. Jarpe presented the proposed policy to the school board Monday.

The policy will likely go through a series of revisions before it gains approval and is implemented. The district has to have the new policy in place by summer.

The policy defines bullying as being written, verbal, physical or electronic. There must be intent to harm on the part of the perpetrator and there must be an adverse affect on the person being bullied. The threat of retaliation for reporting bullying is also prohibited.

“We want our kids to feel safe and secure at school and not looking over their shoulder,” Jarpe said. “We don’t want them going to school all tense and tied up because someone is bullying them.”

As for reporting bullying, the policy says incidents should be reported to school officials in a timely manner. Upon learning of possible bullying, principals must promptly and thoroughly investigate the incident.

“This is important because, tragically, you hear of things where some people reported things in schools and they weren’t thoroughly dealt with,” Jarpe said. “You hear about some very tragic things that have happened because of that.”

The policy covers bullying that takes place at anything school related, including school functions, in school vehicles and while students are under school supervision. It also covers telecommunications devices and service providers under the district’s control.

The superintendent would be responsible for implementing the policy and providing annual reports on bullying to the school board.

Jarpe asked the board to consider options for the policy not required by law. These include a system for anonymous reporting, a process for dealing with bullying by school officials, a prevention task force and training programs for staff, students and parents.

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