Elk Rapids Live exclusive
Bullying is not something that only exists in the news media (previous posting) and always happens ‘someplace else.’ I spoke with E.R. Schools Superintendent Steve Prissel today about bullying in our own schools.
Superintendent Prissel stated that bullying does happen in our schools and that the nature of it has changed in the past few years. What used to be mainly face-to-face encounters between bullies and victims now, with the advent of new technology, can take place online. Texting, e-mailing and Facebook posting have allowed bullies to expand their reach. Often a problem can start outside of school via Facebook postings and then be brought into school the next day.
Prissel supports the U.S. Department of Education initiative to mandate that schools address bullying, and he notes that our state has no mandate of its own. But he points out that Elk Rapids Schools already have policies and strategies for dealing with the issue. For example:
- Bullying is prohibited in the existing school policy on proper conduct by students.
- There are frequent meetings with staff about student conduct.
- Expert speakers are brought in to school to shed light on the problem.
- School principals and teachers encourage victims of bullying to come forth.
- There are weekly elementary meetings with students to address bullying and student conduct.
Elk Rapids Schools staff has zero tolerance for bullying and takes action whenever it is known to occur. The recently installed in-school cameras help identify and deter bullying in areas where the cameras are deployed. Stamping out bullying will remain a focal point of our schools for some time to come.