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8 Confirmed Bullying Incidents in Semi-Annual District Report

Collingswood Public School District's state-mandated mid-year report confirms eight bullying incidents between Sept. 2011 and Jan. 2012.

The state-mandated Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB) Policy enacted by shows eight confirmed bullying incidents occurred between Sept. 2011 and Jan. 2012.

Board of education members presented their semi-annual HIB report Monday.

Of the 43 total bullying allegations made districtwide from September to January, the report shows only eight were confirmed to be actual cases of bullying.

The following information, found in Collingswood's semi-annual HIB report, outlines alleged and confirmed cases of bullying between last September and this January:

 

Incidents by School—

  • —2 Alleged; 0 Confirmed
  • —2 Alleged; 0 Confirmed
  • —1 Alleged; 0 Confirmed
  • —6 Alleged; 0 Confirmed
  • —3 Alleged; 0 Confirmed
  • —22 Alleged; 6 Confirmed
  • —7 Alleged; 2 Confirmed

 

Incidents by Grade Level—

  • Kindergarten—2 Alleged; 0 Confirmed
  • First Grade—1 Alleged; 0 Confirmed
  • Second Grade—1 Alleged; 0 Confirmed
  • Third Grade—3 Alleged; 0 Confirmed
  • Fourth Grade—4 Alleged; 0 Confirmed
  • Fifth Grade—3 Alleged; 0 Confirmed
  • Sixth Grade—11 Alleged; 4 Confirmed
  • Seventh Grade—6 Alleged; 0 Confirmed
  • Eighth Grade—5 Alleged; 1 Confirmed
  • Ninth Grade—3 Alleged; 3 Confirmed
  • Tenth Grade—2 Alleged; 0 Confirmed
  • Eleventh Grade—0 Alleged; 0 Confirmed
  • Twelfth Grade—2 Alleged; 0 Confirmed

 

Summaries and Consequences of Confirmed Bullying Incidents—

  • —Oct. 2011—Victim referred to using anti-gay term—Parent conference and out of school suspension
  • —Oct. 2011—Victim referred to using anti-gay term—Parent conference and mandatory counseling
  • —Oct. 2011—Victim was target of demeaning comments about personal handicap—Parent conference and mandatory counseling
  • —Oct. 2011—Victim referred to using anti-gay term—Parent conference, out of school suspension, and mandatory counseling
  • —Oct. 2011—Victim pressured to turn over money to bully—Parent conference, out of school suspension, and mandatory counseling
  • —Nov. 2011—Victim referred to using anti-gay term/sexually-explicit language—Parent conference, seat moved, Saturday school detention served
  • —Nov. 2011—Victim referred to using racial epithet—Parent conference, out of school suspension
  • —Dec. 2011—Victim photographed exiting shower after athletic match—Parent conference, out of school suspension, excluded from all co-curricular activities

 

According to Collingswood Superintendent Dr. Scott A. Oswald, severity of consequences varied depending on factors unique to each bullying allegation.

"Eight of the (43 alleged) incidents we've had have been confirmed as cases of bullying under the law. Every time we have a confirmed incident, there's a parent conference," said Oswald of disciplinary action. "And every time an allegation is made, at the very minimum, there is parent contact. Typically, there's also a counseling component, and sometimes Saturday school is implemented.

"We run through an entire, time-consuming process for every single concern brught to us by a student, parent or teacher," he said. "Criteria is set forth, and while most incidents are not found to be (confirmed cases of bullying), we investigate—through our child study team, counselors, psychologists and our secondary-school bullying specialist—every incident that is alleged."

Sarah Mello January 24, 2012 at 04:58 PM
As a parent of a 3rd grader at Tatem, I am please with the level of understanding my son seems to have about how he can intervene when he witnesses bullying and with the level of conversation kids seem to be having about bullying in general. He does tell me of bullying he sees happening, but it does seem like it's being addressed at the school level and at the student level for the most part. However, I am curious why none of the elementary cases were confirmed. What are the criteria the committee uses to determine bullying? Are they developmentally appropriate to the lower grades where we might assume bullying behavior is first being learned and tested? And if the cases weren't deemed to be bullying, the number of issues still indicates an environment that should be of concern to the district when it comes to elementary students.
Sean Andrew January 24, 2012 at 11:21 PM
First, I'm never sure why people ask questions on blogs and expect answers. Having said that, the criteria for determining whether a case is bullying is outlined in the legislation and on district forms. I date a mom of two kids in the school system. The boy was accused (by another parent) of being a bully for an incident during a kickball game. The school contacted his mom, told her it was going to investigate, spoke with those involved, measured the findings against the criteria and determined that two boys playing kickball sometimes have words. That's not bullying - it's competition. It turns out the other boy said just as much back to her son, but my girlfriend did not see fit to report it. The school handled it well and kept us informed. I assume they did the same with the other family. The number of cases seems pretty minor to me - about 2 per month at the elementary grades and who knows how many were similar to our case - baseless? In a town where there's not been much good news lately, our schools seem to be a bright spot.
Sarah Mello January 26, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Sean, You are right that if I want the details about the criteria I should ask the district but I also ask questions in blogs to generate conversation. I am glad you had a positive experience with the bullying reporting, and I am definitely not in favor of intervening in every childhood squabble with suspensions or reports, but in our school at least, there is a real problem with girls who "gang up" on each other, singling out kids to be teased, ridiculed and isolated daily. You might say that kids just have to go through that, but I believe that this is the starting place for intolerance and more serious bullying if it is not addressed in elementary school. If the criteria are such that they allow the ignoring of an atmosphere where young children are feeling that school is not a safe or nurturing place for them to be, then I think we're missing an opportunity to catch bullying habits early and teach kids other ways of being together as a class.
Sean Andrew January 26, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Good points, Sarah. Every bit helps - parents and schools. I guess it just frustrates me when parents want the schools to parent (not referring to you). You know they are out there.
sandra akers January 28, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Sarah I agree with you wholeheartedly and your son is commended for his good heart. My granddaughter is also a student in the third grade at Tatem and has been bullied for three years now. My daughter has brought this to the attention of the administrators for three years, who found the incidents "unconfirmed". This little girl just wants one friend! How pathetic is that! It is heartbreaking and I wouldn't wish it on anyone's child. Teachers and administrators are trained in anti-bullying policies and there is a law against bullying in our state! My granddaughter has been physically threatened and she is nervous and shakes when she gets to school. It is disgraceful and unacceptable! "Ganging up" is intolerable. Where are the teachers when this is happening? Do they have eyes and ears? There is no way anyone can convince me they are not aware of this? And if there were 6 incidents at Tatem School last semester, then something is definitely wrong there! And when children are at school, the teachers are parenting them Mr. Andrews, they are left in their care! Maybe you would feel different if your child were the victim of bullying. It is quite ugly. Children need education to see how their actions and words affect others, not reprimands, it does no good, they need to feel how the victim feels. Role play helps immensely, and it is highly recommended by therapists. I think it is time for the schols and administrators to do a more hands-on approach in the classroom.
Concerned Mom and Grandmother January 30, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I totally agree with you Sandi and Sara, enough is enough!! I want to know who determines "the alleged "bullying cases? Just in our district alone there has been 86 alleged bullying complaints, 16 are confirmed, whats wrong with this picture?
Sean Andrew January 30, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Perhaps you could contact the school and request that they take "ganging up" out of the curriculum, since apparently you believe those behaviors are being taught there. Again, no one defends bullying in any form and no student should go to school in fear, but rather than make EVERYTHING the school's responsibility, why not take steps to HELP? The schools could certainly stop everything and teach all kids to be nice, but that would require that they dump a lot of the academic stuff and also that they overcome some of what is being taught at home. Schools don't create bullies - kids come to school having already learned those lessons. Make it your responsibility to make a difference. P.S. I'm sure Sarah's son has a great heart, but I'm left wondering why he is not your granddaughter's friend?
Sean Andrew January 30, 2012 at 04:34 PM
According to the law, the anti-bullying specialist determines if the case is considered "HIB" under the guidelines provided directly in the law. Hope this answer helps.
Sarah Mello January 30, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Sean, I don't know that anyone is saying that "ganging up" is being taught at the school but I think it is fair to see it is being either unnoticed or disregarded. The HIB guidelines do seem to outline the kind of behavior that Sandra's grandchild seems to be experiencing. I don't think it's the school's role to suspend kids (at least elementary kids) who are figuring out social dynamics and may be engaged in behaviors that Sandra describes. Collingswood Schools eliminated the School Counselor position at all elementary schools last year. In other systems, the School Counselor is a key resource both for kids who are experiencing bullying and for kids who may not have learned more appropriate behaviors or need other supports for dealing with their own feelings. That work is all left now to classroom teachers and building administrators who simply don't have the resources or training to address the social and developmental needs of the entire school. And yes Sean, it is the responsibility of every parent to make a difference. I am happy to report that my son and I discuss daily how to stand up for others, how to confront your own friends who might be bullying and where to go for help if he can't manage on his own. Sandra, the teacher is addressing the issue with the kids - I don't believe the problem is being ignored. The full list of HIB standards can be found in a previous Patch article.
Sean Andrew January 30, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Good points, Sarah! I guess I'm left wondering what else the school could have cut if they maintained the counselors? That's not really a question for you, just a thought. My guess is you, I, and many others would have ideas with which few would agree. It gets old to log onto Patch or many other websites daily and listen to people attack schools because they are not addressing all that ails society. Where are the other community and spiritual organizations, not to mention families? Does anyone really think it is appropriate for the school to be responsible for off-campus student behavior (as outlined in the law) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
Sarah Mello January 30, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Now you've hit on my real passion. Of course the schools can't do it on their own! They need to form partnerships, real, meaningful and collaborative partnerships with families, youth-serving organizations and other CBOs so that teachers can do what they are expert at and the entire community can see the success of schools as their goal. That means opening the doors to groups to use space in the building, working jointly with organizations who are expert at youth development programming, welcoming in families to support and engage with the schools, recognizing that "education" happens in and out of the classroom. I have had experience with projects where all of these partners come together, agree on goals for student success and then respect the expertise each agency contributes to the whole picture. And guess what? Where the partnerships were strongest, the test scores often were too. But that's a rant for a different blog.
Kelley schmidt January 31, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Sean, I think you are misinterpreting what the real goal is here. We as parents want to work with the school not against them. Nobody wants to hold the teachers fully responsible. As Sarah had stated the s hold should open up their doors to other community members to see what we could all do to bring more awareness to ALL kids about these serious situations a lot of kids are facing. Instead of reprimanding the bullies why not put together a program to help better educate the "bullies" and the ones being "bullied"? Suspensions in/out of school and a parent conference is just not enough. I have had personal experiences with the schools on these incidents myself and believe me I didn't get very far. Most of us parents are pushed out when it comes to these issues rather than welcomed in and work together for a solution. For the record sarahs son is a good friend! He has spoken up for several of his friends and that takes courage. The goal is to simply bring more awareness and education to all of the kids in this community!
tangledup January 31, 2012 at 11:30 AM
There are supposed to be psychology phd student interns (on stipend) to serve the elementary schools this year with at similar hours of coverage that the counselors had. If you haven't heard about this from your building administrator, I would contact him/her and ask about it.
Kelley schmidt January 31, 2012 at 02:41 PM
This is where the problem is. The lines of communication aren't open between parents and the school staff. I directly asked the principal of my kids school how I could be involved and with whom could I talk to. She says"the school doesn't have an appointed counselor, I can only relay our conversation to the schools social worker." she couldn't speak with me directly due to her not working one on one with my child. I wasn't offered an opportunity to be involved or given an alternate contact to discuss my concerns. If the lines of communication are not left open,how are the parents ever going to be involved to take some of the "pressure" and responsibility off the teachers?
tangledup January 31, 2012 at 03:29 PM
The interns fall under Dr. Plescia's guidance I believe; I'd contact her and see if you can get some assistance from her organization.
Kelley schmidt January 31, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Thank you I appreciate that! Do you know exactly who she is? I have never heard her name before.
tangledup January 31, 2012 at 04:04 PM
She's the Director of Special Services - Here's her info from the school district website Administrator Dr. Joanne Plescia (856) 962-5702 ext 7010 jplescia@collingswood.k12.nj.us Good luck.
JuliannaSmith February 02, 2012 at 03:43 AM
We've been discussing about these bullying issues with my co-parents in school. And I believe it will be a great idea to teach our children a safety tip on how to deal with bullying. And as been noticed, bullied case has been increasing rapidly, so we've come of an idea to search for a mobile safety that will ensure our kids to be safe even when we're not around. Then we found this link http://www.tsue-thatswhatshesaid.com/2011/09/keeping-your-child-safe-supporting.html that talks about securing every family in modern way. You can also check that link for your own good.

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