Let's talk about bullying in schools.
It can be tricky, because if it doesn't get reported there's often nothing the people in charge can do about it. Enter cyberbullying, where some parents might not even have access to know what's being said about their children.
That's why it's important for the schools here to be proactive, said Michele Newswander, director of Pupil Personnel Services at . She spoke to the Lincoln-Way High School District 210 board last week to give a brief update on what the schools are doing.
"It's changed a lot in the last 5, 10, 15 years," she said of bullying pointing directly to cyberbullying. "They can post something immediately without having any thought to the impact it can have."
She said it's important for school districts to provide opportunities for education and outreach so students feel comfortable. Many of those are things District 210 already does, Newswander said, including staff development, the Asset Program and peer mentoring.
"We all need to be involved," she said.
At a special meeting in January, the Lincoln-Way school board discussed its policy for bullying to determine whether it adequately addressed cyberbullying. Board member Christine Glatz asked that it be put on the agenda.
"I know it’s happening and it happens online moreso than not unfortunately," Glatz said. "Some parents some don’t have access to see what’s going on."
Supt. Larry Wyllie said the most important thing a student or parent can do is escalate the problem to a school officer or principal. Specific guidelines for reporting bullying are explained in the district's student-parent handbook.
"The difficulty with that is a lot of students and parents in the schools are afraid of retaliation," Wyllie said.
One parent echoed that concern during the forum. She said her daughter was bullied last year while participating in a sport. The male coach, who wasn't in the girls locker room, said "he didn't believe it was happening," according to the parent.
"I didn’t tell the building principal because I thought it would be to the detriment of my daugher," the parent said.
Have you faced this dilemma before? If your children have been bullied in school, how did you react and who did you tell? Let us know you experience in the comments below.
You can also read some of our past Moms Talk discussions on bullying: