New Bullying Report Holds Delaware Schools Accountable - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

New Bullying Report Holds Delaware Schools Accountable

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DOVER, Del. - Julie Baynard and her mother Jeanne Perrault, of Dover, say although bullying has been going on for centuries, the rise of social media is making it worse.
    
"You can't go on Facebook or Instagram without reading some kind of negative comment," said Baynard.

There have been reports of students even taking their own lives because they were bullied.

"Where's our future going? You can't bring them back once they die. If a person is gay or if they're different they're getting ridiculed for it and it's not fair," said Baynard.
 
A new report, called "Unfinished Business: Implementation by Delaware Public Schools of the State's 2012 Anti-Bullying Laws," is keeping the fight against bullying in the spotlight.   

Lt. Gov. Matt Denn says the state is holding schools accountable.

"Having the parents know what's going on is really critical and it hadn't been happening too frequently so we put something in place," said Denn.
 
Denn says the Department of Education randomly audited schools to see if leaders were reporting incidents of bullying to parents and to the state.

"What we found was some cases yes. In some cases, no," said Denn.

The report found most public schools are complying with state laws, but fewer than half of the state's charter schools, for example, Academy of Dover Public Charter School and Positive Outcomes Charter School, had not adopted the cyberbullying policy. Other charter schools listed in the report are located in Wilmington and Newark.

The report also cites 'among those charter schools that had adopted the state's required cyberbullying policy, a number did not respond to inquiries, such as Providence Creek Academy in Clayton, asking how that policy had been communicated to students.'


Polytech High School Principal Jason Peel says he treats bullying seriously.

"Having these reported systems and having everyone be on the same page is important," said Peel.
The school has courses, events and something called 'Polytech Advisement and Support System,' or PASS, to help combat bullying.

"We talk about having a trusted adult that they can go to. Students have teachers, coaches, club advisors, but not everyone plays a sport, not everyone finds a connection so this is just another opportunity in a smaller setting," said Peel.

The school has five counselors, including lead counselor Robert Bassett.

"Our counselors do a great job in getting to know the students and I think they know we care about them, so when they are dealing with any issues we tend to be one of the first lines that they're going to come to," said Bassett.

Danielle Dawkins, of Dover, says the report is a step in the right direction, but it's going to take more than just words on paper to make a change.

"They're children. they're going to make fun of each other. that's just the way things are. they're going to laugh. We just have to recognize when it's not a good ha ha moment," said Dawkins.

The report also found that schools like Milford Middle and Seaford High reported less than 70 percent of bullying incidents to the state.

North Dover and Sussex Academy reported at least 80 percent of incidents of bullying in Delaware.
To view the full report: http://news.delaware.gov/files/2014/02/1stAntiBullyingReport021914.pdf

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