Ohio Civil Rights Says Stop Bullying
The rest of the letter which I have been reporting on from the Office of Civil Rights found on the Department of Education website is a rather stern warning to schools to address bullying directly and firmly. It clearly states that investigating and addressing known incidents of harassment is the responsibility of all schools, and addresses the need for well-publicized policies which would prohibit harassment.
The letter addresses the need to investigate and deal with all suspected incidents, not just ones reported by parents. “When responding to harassment, a school must take immediate and appropriate action to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred. The specific steps in a school’s investigation will vary depending upon the nature of the allegations, the source of the complaint, the age of the student or students involved, the size and administrative structure of the school, and other factors. In all cases, however, the inquiry should be prompt, thorough, and impartial.” Interestingly, I caught a local news report regarding bullying and how our local schools measure up when it comes to handling the incidents that are occurring. What they found from the reports being sent to the state by districts regarding these incidents is that the stronger the bullying policy implemented in the school and the more consistently it is followed, the less cases of bullying there seem to be.
Now, you are probably thinking, “Duh!” Yes, it seems so obvious, but let’s explore the ramifications of this report more thoroughly. This report should tell us all that we can stop bullying if we make a concerted effort to do so. Some school districts are decreasing the occurrences through tougher policies, so every school district needs to do the same.
The letter, which I encourage you to read, lays out the proper procedures to follow to correctly deal with reported or known incidents. By the time I got to the end of this letter from OCR, I got the impression that we, who are in education, are being warned in no uncertain terms that we need to get it together where bullying is concerned. We have been warned now through the Ohio Civil Rights program and the Department of Education to take this seriously. If we choose to minimize the message, we will have only ourselves to blame if we are publically called on the carpet for allowing bullying to continue unchecked. And if that means a lawsuit, well, we’ve been warned! Bullying is the hot topic right now and rightfully so. So, readers beware and let’s crack down on harassment and bullying!