Georgia schools are cracking down on bullying statewide. Schools like Burke County High School have installed bullying policies that set specific consequences for misconduct. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 4, 2011)
News 12 First at Five / Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011
WAYNESBORO, Ga. -- Bullies can be anywhere: in the classroom, in the halls and in the cafeteria. Burke County High School Principal Sam Adkins says he's tired of them.
"If you don't address it, it's not going to go away," he said.
Now, those who bully will have to pay for it. All schools in Georgia are required by law to have a bully policy in place, and Adkins says it's about time.
"For the first time, that there is consequences for their actions," he said. "Up until then, it's just been a very discretionary way of handling it."
In Burke County, there's a progressive disciplinary system that starts with a mandatory parent conference and in-school-suspension, or ISS. If someone from grades 6-12 is involved with bullying three times, he or she will go to an alternative school. Kids from kindergarten through fifth grade who bully three times get up to 10 days of out-of-school-suspension, or OSS.
After that, all bullies get 10 days OSS and a tribunal referral.
"We want to make sure that our students feel safe," Adkins said. "We want to make sure that our students learn and to give them the optimal opportunity to be successful."
But bullying happens outside the classroom, too. Teacher say technology, Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace have made it easier for kids to bully outside the classroom, and that's when educators say parents need to step in.
"If we are faced with cyber-bullying outside of the school, we bring the parents in, make them aware of what's going on and try to find a resolution," Adkins said.
And if it does happen in school, teacher want kids to report it, not retaliate.
"We want our student at Burke County High to feel comfortable talking to any adult in our building about any situation they're facing," Adkins said.
Burke County teachers spent a good part of the day Wednesday going over the new policy with their students. They also say they sent the policy home in a handbook.
All districts in Georgia have a new bullying policy. All the ones in our area will send third-time offenders to an alternative school. For consequences to other numbers of offenses, check your child's student conduct code.