Source: Sherman Publications

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Brandon Board takes aim at school bullying

by Susan Bromley

June 19, 2013

Brandon Twp.- Last spring, a new policy regarding bullying was implemented in the district, which included reporting incidents to the state.

At the June 17 school board meeting, Superintendent Lorrie McMahon announced the number of incidents recorded at each building in the district.

"The terms come from the state and we report some to the state," she said. "We spent time talking about what these things mean. We need more description, they are a challenge to identify. The problem is if it is bullying, but also physical aggression, which term do we use? Our reporting system doesn't give us much leeway."

According to the summary of aggressive behavior or bullying from September 2012-June 2013 as reported by each building:

nBelle Ann Elementary had one incident of fighting;

nHarvey Swanson Elementary had five assault incidents; one incident of bullying; six fighting incidents; and one incident of threatening bodily harm;

nOakwood Elementary reported four incidents of assault; 10 bullying incidents; and one threat of bodily harm;

nBrandon Middle School had five bullying incidents reported; four fights; eight harassment incidents; and two threats of bodily harm;

nBrandon High School reported three assaults; one bullying incident; nine harassments; and one threat of bodily harm; and

nBrandon Alternative Education High School had three bullying incidents; eight fights; two harassments; and seven threats of bodily harm.

"Our goal is zero," said McMahon. "Categorizing things is a bit of a challenge… We have to record according to the (state) software program. Being the first time we've gathered this data in this way, we feel it is something we can learn from and use next year as we look with a more practiced eye at the data. It does help us know that our anti-bullying policies are working. I don't think those numbers are very high."

She noted the Blackhawk hotline, implemented at the high school, has been successful in deterring bullying. The hotline allows students to anonymously report bullying by calling or texting a message to 248-660-0138, which will put them directly to Google Voice. Assistant Principal Mike Tucker will receive the voicemails and texts immediately and investigates all claims and concerns.

Peers Making Peace is another successful program in place for younger students, in which mediation is used to resolve differences.

McMahon said the board and administration will continue to discuss ways to report incidents and how to prevent bullying and aggressive behaviors in the district.