The state of bullying in Ohio

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How do agencies and organizations in Ohio prevent and intervene with bullying? Do they help or hinder? What is the bullying policy at your child’s school?

Governor John Kasich signed the Jessica Logan Act into law in 2012. Logan was a Cincinnati teen who committed suicide after a sext (nude picture) sent to her boyfriend went viral at school and resulted in bullying. House Bill 116 requires school districts to establish cyber-bullying policies, to annually teach teachers and inform parents about bullying policies, and requires schools to teach students about the policies if state or federal funding is provided for that purpose.

Here are some resources to see what the problem is, and what steps are being taken to solve it:

Peruse the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) for information about bullying prevention and intervention in Ohio public schools. Visit www.ode.state.oh.us/ and use the keyword search ‘Bullying Policy’. Look for Ohio’s Anti-Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying Model Policy Overview.

Risk factors for bullying at school are listed on the ODE website and include: unsupervised interaction between different grade levels during breaks; indifferent or accepting teacher attitudes toward bullying; indifferent or accepting student attitudes toward bullying; and presence of aggressive students in same or slightly higher grade.

See the Ohio Revised Code at http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3313.667. Information about the 3313.667 District bullying prevention initiatives; 3301.22 Model harassment prevention policy; and 3313.666 District policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bullying required is reported.

According to the code, bullying and harassment is defined as the following: “any intentional written, verbal, electronic, or physical act that a student has exhibited toward another particular student more than once and the behavior both causes mental or physical harm to the other student and is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for the other student.”

Ohio Legal Services breaks down the bullying laws and what they mean at www.ohiolegalservices.org/public/legal_problem/students-schools/bullying-in-schools/qandact_view.

Another helpful and informative article on bullying in Ohio is from the August 2012 Ohio School Board Association Journal, called “Challenging bullying: Ohio educators and experts discuss improving school climate.” (www.ohioschoolboards.org/challenging-bullying-5.)

Also in 2012, Steele High School students in Amherst, Ohio, created a special news video on bullying and the effects of it in their school (www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0c7-DOa8b0).

The documentary film BULLY, was filmed over the course of the 2009-2010 school year and depicts how bullying affected five kids and their families. The tagline describes it as “It captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities and in society as a whole.” (www.thebullyproject.com)

The Ohio School Resource Officers Association (OSROA) is a not-for-profit organization that supports school-based law enforcement (and other members) focused on a safe school learning environment. Visit www.osroa.org/index.html.

According to the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI), bullying impacts 60 percent of individuals with disabilities. OCALI lists websites with information, training, programs, and resources about anti-bullying, specifially towards children with special needs (www.ocali.org/project/bullying_and_individuals_with_special_needs).

The Up Side of Downs website exists to provide support, education and advocacy for people with Down syndrome throughout Northeast Ohio. Resource websites are also listed to help stop bullying against children with disabilities. Visit www.theupsideofdowns.org/education/bullying.

Please seek help from a child therapist if your child is a victim of bullying and shows signs of depression or anxiety. Ask your pediatrician for a referral. Talk with the school counselor, principal, and teachers.