With the safety of our students as our number one concern, bullying is a high priority topic for those of us with the Collier County School District. And we are doing something about it.
To help heighten awareness we’ve launched a series of parent forums focused on bullying. The first, held recently at Pelican Marsh Elementary School, was well received by parents of the four elementary schools on the north end of town.
Nancy Tarrete, the coordinator of Safe and Drug Free Schools for the school district, said that “the focus was on bullying awareness and prevention, state law, and how it connects with school district policy. Parents were told how to recognize the signs of bullying and how to manage a potential bullying situation.”
So what is bullying in the first place?
“It’s a chronic behavior, not a one-time thing. It can be verbal or physical and it may include things like taunting or teasing, or actual physical pushing and the like,” Tarrete said.
What are the signs?
“Withdrawal or isolation is one of the first,” she said. “When a child starts to dislike going to school, begins avoiding those social media tools that they’ve enjoyed before, and when it appears they’re not getting a lot of joy out of school or being with friends, those are big warning signs for parents. You need to contact the school to get in for a meeting to talk about what might be happening.”
And what is the school district doing to prevent bullying? There is a ton of good information and lots of resources available on our website, and there’s something brand new: an online means of reporting a bullying incident anonymously. You’ll find it all through the “Parents” icon at the top of the home page at www.collierschools.com. Click on “Bullying Resources” under “Parent Quick Links” on the left side of the page.
Tarrete feels that the online reporting tool is especially good for those who just don’t feel comfortable reporting directly to the school. Tarrete stresses that all reports are fully investigated.
“Even if you just suspect that there might be some bullying behavior going on, you should report it!” she said.
There’s another bullying awareness parent forum on tap for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27, in the Palmetto Ridge High School auditorium. Parents from all schools in the Golden Gate Estates — elementary, middle and high — are welcome. There will be a panel discussion with a representative from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, a school psychologist, and a behavioral specialist. Parents will be invited to ask questions as well.
Sometime soon, we’ll tell you about a new way we’ll be reaching students directly with important information regarding bullying.