DPS sees decline in bullying reports

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Survey results from Dearborn Public Schools students indicate that bullying behavior incidents are going down.

Administrators and the Board of Education heard results of a student survey given as part of the district’s “Response to Bullying Program” during the school year during the board’s July 14 meeting.

The program was started in 2011 to identify, address and prevent bullying in the district’s schools.

As part of the program, all staff having any contact with students are required to participate in annual anti-bullying professional development courses, schools hold three annual assemblies addressing bullying and students are encouraged to report any bullying behavior
they see or hear about.

DPS Affective Education Teacher Nadia Berry said students were asked several questions about bullying in the fall, including if they were bullied at school in the last school year and if they feel safe at school.

Berry said students reporting being bullied fell from 39 to 30 percent in elementary schools, 35 to 19 percent in middle schools and 19 to 17 percent in high schools.

“We also saw a decline in numbers from 2012 to 2013 in students reporting that they had witnessed another student being bullied during the school year and in students reporting having missed school due to bullying,” Berry said. “We’re very proud of these declining numbers.”

When asked if they felt safe at school, 92 percent
of elementary students, 87 percent of middle
school students and 80 percent of high school students said the did.

Berry said the survey results are saved and evaluated and each school tracks its students and works to address any patterns or problems that is identified.

The district also uses the data to look for any patterns of bullying behavior in particular schools and grade levels.

“We intervene, but we also teach and create an environment where all students and adults respond
to bullying behavior in a positive way,” Berry said. “We never, ever respond in a negative way.”

Trustee Aimee Schoelles said the numbers were encouraging and that as more students learn about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior they begin to “police themselves” and help each other.

“I think that the most powerful statement of this program is that elementary school kids are recognizing what bullying behavior is,” Schoelles said. “They’re not just recognizing bullies, but also their behavior. Obviously the message is getting across.”

Supt. Brian Whiston said he was happy to hear that bullying incidents were going down districtwide.

“This is exciting news,” Whiston said. “We’re making good progress with this issue in our schools.”

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.