School District enlists Metro in its aggressive effort to stop bullying

Nov 7, 2011 by

Metro Police officer Richard Burris is sparing no sympathy for the seventh-graders packed inside a Bailey Middle School classroom.

Days earlier, Burris had inconspicuously watched afternoon dismissal at the school. And he wasn’t happy with what he saw: Kicking. Backpack-snatching. Paperwork-smacking.

The scene is repeated daily at valley schools. Bullies prey on victims during the day, and it continues at night through technology.

“It has gotten to the point where kids are afraid to walk and get on the school bus and can’t focus on school,” Burris tells the seventh-graders.

The officer’s presence is part of School District initiative to address the issue following several high-profile suicides related to bullying recently.

“Bullying happens to everybody, but it’s more serious now,” said Sgt. Mark Sharp of Metro’s Youth Education Services division. “We have a lot of people taking lives because of the fact that they feel trapped.”

Superintendent Dwight Jones has made anti-bullying initiatives a top priority — spearheading the local launch of Operation Respect, a national program to foster a ridicule-free climate for students. The effort is starting at 10 Clark County schools; success will trigger an expanded campaign, said Connie Kratky, a coordinator in the district’s Equity and Diversity Education department.

“We’re working hard to make sure we can put as much information in the hands of students and their parents to squelch what has become a huge problem across the board,” she said.

Clark County is not alone.

Nearly 20 percent of high school students in 2009 reported being bullied on school property in the past year, according to the Child Health USA 2011 report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Furthermore, 5 percent of high school students surveyed for the report didn’t attend school at least one day that month because they felt unsafe at school or on their way there or back home.

Bullying tends to be a larger problem for older elementary students through middle school, gradually lessening by 10th grade, Sharp said.

Many schools have their own initiatives, in addition to community-sponsored programs like the Metro Police seminars.

via School District enlists Metro in its aggressive effort to stop bullying – Monday, Nov. 7, 2011 | 2 a.m. – Las Vegas Sun.

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