Fri. Nov 22nd, 2019

Bullying: How Skokie School Districts Tackle The Issue

Bullying: How Skokie School Districts Tackle The Issue

SKOKIE, IL — As part of its National Bullying Prevention Month coverage, Patch contacted administrators of dozens of public school districts in Chicago area suburbs to see how they handle bullying in their communities. Across the country, bullying is a problem that affects more than one in five students. While may boil it down to the idea that “kids will be kids,” studies show that students who are bullied are at increased risk for anxiety, depression, poor self-image, mental health and behavior problems and poor school adjustment.

a person sitting on the floor: Patch asked seven Skokie area school districts how they respond to and report incidents of bullying.© Shutterstock
Patch asked seven Skokie area school districts how they respond to and report incidents of bullying.

Patch posed seven questions earlier this month to administrators of Skokie School District 68, Skokie/Morton Grove School District 69, Fairview South School District 72, East Prairie School District 73, Skokie School District 73.5 and Lincolnwood School District 74 and Niles Township High School District 219.

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Most of them responded — one with a press release — and their responses are provided below in their entirety.

District 68

  • What is the district’s policy with regard to bullying and cyberbullying?

Board Policy 7.180 Prevention of and Response to Bullying, Intimidation, and Harassment

  • What is the discipline process for students who bully others?

All observed or reported incidences of bullying are investigated by teachers and/or building principals. Incidences that are found to be valid result in a wide range of consequences depending the nature, scope, and harm caused by the bullying.

  • How many reported incidents of bullying does the district have this year, last year and by grade level?

We are still working on our district-wide collection processes of this data in order to be compliant with our Board policy. The majority of these situations are minor and are dealt with throughout the course of a teacher’s day through corrective intervention and are therefore not always documented. More serious incidents are documented.

  • What constitutes a reportable bullying incident? How does the district define bullying? (In other words, when does it rise to the level of being reportable?)

Frankly, anything is reportable and we investigate all reports of bullying. We find that not all reports are classified as bullying after our investigations of incidents. They are often times determined to be mutual antagonism between students or other “relationship” misunderstandings.

  • What measures are the district taking to be proactive about bullying?

We implement RULER, a curriculum designed to understand and regulate emotions district-wide in grades preK-8.We use CHAMPS, a curriculum designed to set and communicate behavioral expectations, in grades preK-8. We use two additional curricula, Social Thinking and Zones of Regulation for those students that need additional supports.The Social Thinking curriculum is used for those students that need a deeper level of engagement in social learning when we are expecting a student to learn improved self-control or self-regulation. And we also use Zones of Regulation, a curriculum geared toward helping students gain skills in consciously regulating their actions, which in turn leads to increased control and problem solving abilities. Additionally we conduct school-wide behavior assemblies to recognize positive behaviors and reinforce expectations about bullying.

  • What is the district doing to help students who have been the victim of bullying?

The District uses a Restorative Justice Approach to helping students, perpetrator and victim, come to terms with their behaviors and the fallout of bullying incidents, and to achieve a positive, informed reconciliation. Some students, both perpetrator and victims, receive informal and/or formal social work services. Classroom teachers, teacher assistant and building administrators also provide monitoring and check-ins.

  • Some schools use apps or some other system that allows students to anonymously report bullying. Does your district do this? What kind of volume are schools seeing? Has that increased or decreased?

District 68 provides an anonymous tip line through SchoolMessenger to report bulling incidents. Students are able toaccess this reporting tool on our school webpages, and students are taught where to find the app. Our junior high also uses the Upstander App for anonymous reporting. At the K-5 level students rarely use our anonymous reporting app and generally share their concerns more directly with their teachers. At the junior high level (grades 6-8) students are sometimes less likely to report bullying directly to a staff member, presumably due the greater social stigma. During the 2018-19 school year students at the junior high used the app approximately 100 times to report something. The great majority of their anonymous reports were not about bullying situations.

District 69

District 69 Communications Director Jesse Chatz responded to the questions with a press release titled, “School District 69 Takes Proactive Approach To Prevent Bullying.”

October marks the beginning of National Bullying Prevention Month and it is important to note that bullying prevention is a priority for Skokie – Morton Grove School District 69 all year long. Throughout the year, school district staff work collaboratively to continue the proactive approach to preventing bullying and educating students on the negative impact of bullying.

District 69 is proud of their commitment to social-emotional learning and intentional supports for students and families. In District 69, each grade-level (preK through Grade 8) has its own, dedicated SocialEmotional Learning (SEL) Specialists, who are licensed school social workers, school psychologists, or school counselors. The SEL Specialists work with teachers to implement a year-round SEL curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate, including delivering specific lessons on bullying prevention. In addition to the preventative work, the SEL Specialists respond to individual reports of bullying and provide appropriate therapeutic support.

Bullying prevention is interwoven into District 69’s SEL curriculum, allowing the topic to be addressed throughout the year. The District utilizes several programs and methods to support the social-emotional development of our students.

Key programs and methods include:

  • Second Step Program
    • Teachers and SEL specialists deliver Second Step’s SEL lessons to all students in grades PreK through Grade 8. Second Step’s holistic approach is designed to create a sense of safety and respect grounded in the social and emotional health and well-being of the entire school community.
  • Restorative Practices
    • Restorative practices foster healthy relationships and promote positive discipline in schools. District 69 has provided training for teachers in the Restorative Practice Model from the International Institute for Restorative Practices. Teachers are provided the tools to implement effective responses to incidents of conflict, wrongdoing, and harm within their classrooms and schools. Through this approach staff address the underlying reasons for students hurtful behavior and nurture their intrinsic desire to treat others with care and respect.
  • Responsive Classrooms
    • Teachers and staff are trained to create safe, joyful, and engaging classrooms and communities to help students develop strong social and academic skills to thrive.

At the middle school level, students participate in the Signs of Suicide Program, a universal, school-based depression awareness and suicide prevention program. District 69 students are empowered to be upstanders in any case of bullying, abuse, and harassment – speaking up if they witness mistreatment of others. Students are encouraged to report any signs of bullying whether it is letting an adult know or, for middle school students, reporting through an anonymous, online form known as the Lincoln Incident Reporter.

Additionally, each District 69 school has a standing building-based committee that monitors behavior trends. These teams work to continuously change, build, and develop systems and structures that promote a positive school culture and climate. These teams are part of a district-wide group that has been trained by the Safe and Civil Schools in the Foundations Program. Foundations is designed to improve school climate, enhance school safety and reduce unnecessary discipline referrals.

Guided by the policies set by District 69’s Board of Education, the District defines bullying in Board Policy 7:180. Bullying is a severe and pervasive, physical or verbal act, that is directed toward a student or students that can reasonably be predicted to have the effect of one or more of the following:

1. Placing the student or students in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s or students’ person or property;

2. Causing a substantially detrimental effect on the student’s or students’ physical or mental health;

3. Substantially interfering with the student’s or students’ academic performance; or

4. Substantially interfering with the student’s or students’ ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.

District 69’s definition of bullying also encompasses acts of cyberbullying in the form of written and electronic communications. To combat cyberbullying, lessons are incorporated into Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship lessons through the K-5 Library, Information Technology (LIT) curriculum.

“We are very proud to be able to offer a holistic, preventive curriculum to all of our students supported by specialists,” says Dr. Margaret Clauson, Superintendent. “Our approach is to not just use ‘box curriculum’, rather, our teams work to adapt a number of resources to make them applicable and relevant to our students and our community.”

In partnership with families and the community, District 69 works diligently to ensure that all students feel safe and supported in school. For more information on District 69’s work to prevent bullying, please contact Jesse Chatz, Communications Director, chatzj@skokie69.net.

District 72

  • What is the district’s policy with regard to bullying and cyberbullying?

Bullying, intimidation, and harassment diminish a student’s ability to learn and a school’s ability to educate. Preventing students from engaging in these disruptive behaviors is an important District goal. In particular, Board Policies 7:20, 7:180, and 7:190 provide specific details related to the District’s policies on bullying and cyberbullying.

  • What is the discipline process for students who bully others?

The District’s foremost goal in the area of bullying is to stop the bullying behavior. Ideally, that is accomplished through social work services, counseling, school psychological services; other interventions; and/or restorative measures first, with disciplinary consequences if and when necessary.

During the school year, when a student/s or parent/s inform school of a conflict happening inside or outside of our building, an administrator investigates and, as warranted, takes the necessary actions or consequences to end the bullying behavior. This could range, for example, from counseling or social work services, to restorative practices like meetings between the students and their families facilitated by administration or a social worker, to communications with parents, to disciplinary action. Although disciplinary action could go as far as expulsion, no bullying at Fairview in recent memory warranted such a severe action. The District’s policy on student behavior and discipline is attached (Policy 7:190).

  • How many reported incidents of bullying does the district have this year, last year and by grade level?

During the last and current school year, the District had a few instances of reported bullying behavior, primarily at the middle school level.

  • What constitutes a reportable bullying incident? How does the district define bullying? (ln other words, when does it rise to the level of being reportable?)

See Board Policy 7:180Prevention of and Response to Bullying, Intimidation, and Harassment.

  • What measures are the district taking to be proactive about bullying

As a district, we have made strong efforts to build an environment of positive behaviors and respect through various programming. These include:

• Employment of a licensed social worker, counselor, and psychologist to offer support to students, and also to consult with staff and parents

• Social Emotional Learning curriculum (RAD) that is designed to prevent bullying, as well as components of the “Second Step” bullying prevention unit and parts of “Safe and Civil Schools” • Ongoing staff development, both within the District and through third parties (e.g., NIU’s Preventing and Addressing Bullying in Schools Conference; Bullying and Cyberbullying: An Educator’s Toolbox for Prevention and Intervention)

• Officer Friendly visits through the Skokie Police Department, including a specific 3rd grade focus on bullying prevention

• “Kindness Adventure” assembly and “Kindness Assembly” to encourage standing up for others and spreading kindness everywhere

• Finding Kind film study for 5th grade girls • Lunch groups for intermediate elementary students to target relational aggression (“G.l.R.L.S. = Girls in Real Life Situations”)

• Use of numerous anti-bullying books at various grade levels (e.g., Bullies Never Win, The Juice Box Bully, Say Something, Each Kindness)

• Anonymous bullying reporting link on the District’s website (see below) As a result of these efforts and the environment created by our entire staff, surveys administered to students, staff, and parents most recently in October 2018 reflect that bullying is not prevalent in Fairview (see analysis of survey results prepared by firm School Perceptions.)

  • What is the district doing to help students who have been the victim of bullying?

Being a relatively small school district (750 students in total and 100 staff members), all of our staff have been trained to identify students who are having issues at school in order to intervene when necessary. We also have a licensed social worker, school counselor, and a psychologist available to offer additional support to any student who needs it.

  • Some schools use apps – Ok2Say, STOPlt, BullyTag, etc. – or some other system that allows students to anonymously report bullying. Does your district do this? What kind of volume are schools seeing? Has that increased/decreased?

Our district has an anonymous reporting link on our website. We have had no reports of bullying this year through that link.

District 73

  • What is the district’s policy with regard to bullying and cyberbullying?

Bullying, Intimidation, Cyberbullying and Harassment

Bullying, intimidation, and harassment diminish a student’s ability to learn and a school’s ability to educate. Preventing students from engaging in these disruptive behaviors is an important District goal and should be reported to a trusted adult immediately. BOE Policy 7:180, 7:20, 2:260.

  • What is the discipline process for students who bully others?

We use conflict resolution strategies in conjunction with our discipline program. Students who make poor choices concerning their behavior and academics in the classroom work with the teacher to implement appropriate prevention and intervention strategies. Parents will be consulted regarding inappropriate behaviors. If individual students need further interventions, an after-school, 25- minute detention may be issued. During this time the student will be asked to develop a plan of action for change. Students serving multiple detentions will meet with the principal, parents will be notified, and a contract may be developed to encourage change. Students who choose a non-negotiable behavior may be given a suspension. These students may be required to meet with their parents and the principal to make a plan for re-entry into the classroom.

Staff members are trained in and employ the Love and Logic and CHAMPS pro-active discipline and classroom management models. Both programs are designed to provide a nurturing and disciplined program in which to learn and grow. The goal of each is to equip students with the skills to become independent problem solvers.

Within this structure, we work to ensure all students enjoy the rights protected by the Federal and State Constitutions and laws for persons of their age and maturity in a school setting. BOE Policy 7:130

  • How many reported incidents of bullying does the district have this year, last year and by grade level?

Last year we had 0 bullying incidents; we have had none so far this year.

  • What constitutes a reportable bullying incident? How does the district define bullying? (In other words, when does it rise to the level of being reportable?)

We operate under the definition of the American Psychological Association: Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions.

The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him or herself and does nothing to “cause” the bullying.

  • What measures are the district taking to be proactive about bullying?

The district has instituted a committee to promote ‘social emotional learning’ and has trained staff members in the use of RULER, an evidence-based approach for integrating social and emotional learning into schools, developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. RULER applies “hard science” to the teaching of what have historically been called “soft skills.” RULER teaches the skills of emotional intelligence — those associated with recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating emotion. Decades of research show that these skills are essential to effective teaching and learning, sound decision making, physical and mental health, and success in school and beyond.

RULER creates schools that are true safe harbors for our children. It does this by developing emotional intelligence in students from preschool to high school and in all adults involved in their education: school administrators, teachers, and support staff. Parents also participate in training so that they can reinforce the emotional skills that students learn at school. Our approach gives a unique depth and consistency to social and emotional learning that empowers school leaders and teachers to create a genuinely safe space for students to learn and grow.

  • What is the district doing to help students who have been the victim of bullying?

All of our staff have been trained to assist students who are having issues at school in order for them to feel safe and comfortable in the learning process. We have a licensed social worker and a licensed psychologist available to offer additional support to teachers, students and parents. Our social emotional learning is designed to prevent bullying and rectify any issue at school.

  • Some schools use apps or some other system that allows students to anonymously report bullying. Does your district do this? What kind of volume are schools seeing? Has that increased or decreased?

Our district has an anonymous reporting link on our website. We have had no reports of bullying this year.

District 73.5

  • What is the district’s policy with regard to bullying and cyberbullying? /What is the discipline process for students who bully others?

(The district provided copies of the following board policies: 6:65 Student Social and Emotional Development; 5:230 Maintaining Student Discipline; 7:180 Prevention of and Response to Bullying, Intimidation and Harassment; 7:190 Student Behavior and 7:20 Harassment of Students Prohibited.)

  • How many reported incidents of bullying does the district have this year, last year and by grade level?

14 total incidents that were defined as harassment/bullying during 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.

2018-19: 6th grade – none, 7th grade – 5, 8th grade – 6.

2019-20 (As of Oct. 8): 6th Grade – none, 7th grade – none, 8th grade – 3

  • What constitutes a reportable bullying incident? How does the district define bullying? (In other words, when does it rise to the level of being reportable?)

Per the handbook: No person, including a District employee or agent, or student, shall harass, intimidate or bully a student on the basis of actual or perceived: race; color; national origin, military status; unfavorable discharge status from military service; sex; sexual orientation; gender identity; gender-related identity or expression; ancestry; age; religion; physical or mental disability; order of protection status; status of being homeless; actual or potential marital or parental status, including pregnancy; association with a person or group with one or more of the aforementioned actual or perceived characteristics: or any other distinguishing characteristic. The District will not tolerate harassing, intimidating conduct, or bullying whether verbal, physical, sexual, or visual, that affects the tangible benefits of education, that unreasonably interferes with a student’s educational performance, or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment. Examples of prohibited conduct include name-calling, using derogatory slurs, stalking, sexual violence, causing psychological harm, threatening or causing physical harm, or threatened or actual destruction of property, or wearing or possessing items depicting or implying hatred or prejudice of one of the characteristics stated above.

Per online Bullying Report Form: Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as but not limited to making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. Each incident of potential bullying reported by a student, parent, or staff member is thoroughly investigated to determine both the validity of the report and the necessary next steps to resolve the conflict.

  • What measures are the district taking to be proactive about bullying?

Curriculum/Data:

Second Step Curriculum

District-wide grade-level specific social and emotional curriculum aligned to the Illinois Social and Emotional Learning Standards Examples of standards/skills covered:

● Empathy and Communication

● Bullying Prevention

● Emotional Management

● Goal Setting

● Digital Citizenship

● Problem Solving

CHAMPS

Classroom Management System implemented by all staff to clearly define expected behaviors related to conversation, help, activity, movement, participation, leading to student success throughout a variety of instructional settings

Foundations Staff Professional Development

Safe and Civil Schools version of PBIS, which is a school wide behavior plan based on proactive and positive behavior responses. Foundations is a Tier 1 approach, much like PBIS and/or CHAMPS.

PBIS Station Rotations

At the beginning of the year, students rotate through multiple stations in order to define and discuss expected behaviors in common areas throughout the building and their appropriate and safe use of technology

● Bathrooms, hallways, stairs

● arrival/dismissal

● Before and after school activities

● Office procedures

● Cafeteria and recess

● Bus

● ChromeBook

PBIS Advisory Orientation

At the beginning of the year and at regular intervals advisors review sections of the parent/student handbook with students that includes student behavior and discipline

Assemblies

Digital Citizenship student and parent assembly by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

Data Review

Each trimester staff reviews the discipline data to identify existing trends or patterns and creates an action plan specific to their grade level.

PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports):

Peer Mediation

Peer Mediation is a process in which students trained in peer mediation help their peers solve a conflict through a conference facilitated by a member of the student support team

McCracken Hornet’s Hive Assemblies

PBIS reward assembly is to impact initial and sustained changes in behavior by providing a school-wide, predictable event that builds a positive school culture and publicly celebrates Respectful, Responsible, and Ready student behaviors. All students at McCracken participate.

Care Cards

This card provides students with a discreet opportunity to communicate with staff about incidents of bullying or teasing so that we may provide the needed support.

McCracken Buzz Behavior Chart

Our school-wide chart that outlines expectations in every part of the building that aligns with our mission statement of being respectful, responsible, and ready.

Weekly Buzz Buck Wheel Drawing

School store that includes a variety of rewards. It is open bi-weekly for students to redeem buzz bucks earned by respectful, responsible, and ready behaviors exhibited throughout each school day.

Buzz Bucks

McCracken currency we use to reward students when they exhibit respectful, responsible, and ready behaviors exhibited throughout each school day.

McCracken Postcards/Spotlight on Success Certificates

McCracken students are eligible to earn a wide variety of honors for their success in school! This includes Spotlight on Success, which recognizes students’ academic growth and achievement. Each month, teachers celebrate the many students who have demonstrated academic success in each grade level to honor them for making progress toward learning standards, meeting or extending learning standards, demonstrating great interest in a particular subject area, and/or demonstrating a growth mindset. Students are also acknowledged for a variety of reasons by individual teachers and administrators throughout the year with positive postcards.

School-Wide Events/Clubs:

Start with Hello Week

This program teaches students to make a difference with their peers in a simple, fun, and impactful way. They take small (saying Hello) but powerful actions to promote connectedness and inclusion and to identify and help lonely students who are showing signs of social isolation

See Something, Say Something Week

Students learn how to recognize, intervene, and help people before they hurt themselves or others through the Say Something program. The program focuses on three steps:

● Looking for warning signs, signals, and threats — especially on social media

● Acting immediately and taking signs, signals, and threats seriously

● Saying something to a trusted adult like a parent, teacher, or community leaders

Ally Week

Ally Week is a national effort to help spark conversation about the meaning of allyship and to encourage schools to show solidarity with the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, and Questioning) community. It’s meant to encourage students to be allies with the LGBTQ members of their school and stand against bullying, harassment, and name-calling.

All School Read

The purpose of the All School Read is to provide a student-driven school-wide team building and learning experience rooted in literacy. This year our All School Read book chosen by students is Wishtree. Wishtree has a strong plot with themes that encourage readers to think about diversity, inclusion, acceptance, kindness and the true nature of friendship.

Social Justice Club

Social Justice Club is a club on a mission to empower youth, promote equity, encourage kindness, celebrate diversity and build community!

Gay-Straight Alliance Club (GSA)

The Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) is a club at McCracken Middle School open to all students. They are an all-inclusive club that promotes acceptance, kindness, and awareness for the LGBTQ+ community. Everyone is welcome, including LGBTQ+ students and all other students who want to help support this community. GSAs play a vital role in making schools a safer and more accepting place to learn

  • What is the district doing to help students who have been the victim of bullying?

● Hold conferences with the student to identify bullying concerns

● Contact and meet with parents

● Notify teachers/staff to monitor interactions between the alleged bully and victim

● Identify key adults in the building available to the student in order to provide immediate support should conflict continue

● Recommend student support services (counselor, social worker, psychologist, peer mediation, social and emotional peer support groups, daily/weekly check-ins with student)

● Mediation (when appropriate with parental permission to resolve conflict)

● Recommend and contact community agencies

● Teach strategies to assist student with peer communication and steps to take should any bullying incidents continue

● Continue to communicate with parents regarding status of situation

We offer support services to both the student who is the potential victim and the alleged bully. We conduct In-person administrator interviews with the student who was bullied, the bully, and any available student witnesses. These interviews are held individually with each student. We contact the parents of all students involved in the alleged incident. The circumstances of each reported behavior incident is unique and requires a thorough investigation.

  • Some schools use apps or some other system that allows students to anonymously report bullying. Does your district do this? What kind of volume are schools seeing? Has that increased or decreased?

Yes. Currently, students can anonymously report incidents of bullying by completing and submitting a Care Card to members of our student support team (counselor and social worker). We are piloting an online reporting system this year that will allow both students and families to anonymously report potential bullying incidents.

Note: Administrators of Niles Township High School District 219 and Lincolnwood School District 74 did not respond to the questions.

a hand holding a black keyboard: No Bully/Patch News Partner© Provided by Planck, LLC, d/b/a Patch Media
No Bully/Patch News Partner

The Menace Of Bullies: Patch Advocacy Reporting Project

As part of a national reporting project, Patch has been looking at society’s roles and responsibilities in bullying and a child’s unthinkable decision to end their own life in hopes we might offer solutions that save lives.

Bullying In Niles Township Schools Schools: Share Your Stories With Patch »

Do you have a story to tell? Are you concerned about how your local schools handle bullies and their victims? Email us at bullies@patch.com or share your views in the comments.

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Patch staff contributed.

Published at Mon, 21 Oct 2019 16:30:52 +0000

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