Bullying won’t be tolerated

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By Kellie Parkin

Parents now have a new tool to safeguard their children against school bullies.

New bullying and harassment policy 5.38 was adopted by the Levy County School Board last week to conform to state requirements. The policy prohibits bullying and harassment and seeks to prevent an “intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment.”

The policy mandates that each report of bullying or harassment be taken seriously, investigated and resolved within ten days. If parents believe that their child is being bullied they should report it to the school’s principal who is obligated to investigate.

The policy requires all school personnel to report any bullying activity, and encourages members of the community to notify the school, anonymously or in person, about “any act that may be in violation of this policy.”

The new 12-page policy, the lengthiest single policy currently in effect for Levy County School District, documents in-depth procedures for prevention, intervention, investigation, and punishment. The guidelines also specify the immediate notification of parents or guardians when their child is the victim of bullying or harassment.

Bullying is defined as “systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress,” according to the policy. Bullying can include repeated written, verbal or physical behavior that causes discomfort or humiliation that interferes with an individual’s school performance. Bullying also encompasses teasing, social exclusion, threats, intimidation, stalking, physical violence, theft, sexual, religious or racial harassment, public humiliation and stalking.

Harassment is defined as any threatening, insulting or dehumanizing conduct in writing or in person that makes a person afraid for his/her safety, or interferes with educational opportunities and performance.

Retaliation, coercion, and cyberstalking are also prohibited under the policy. Wrongful accusations will be treated as a form of bullying as well.

Reminders of the policy will be displayed.