News broke last week that another gay teenager took his life after enduring intense bullying from classmates—the fifth suicide at Iowa’s Southeast Polk High School in five years.
With school starting in Clark County on August 26, it’s time to ask: What is the Clark County School District doing to combat youth bullying here?
CCSD’s efforts begin with its employees. The district’s Equity and Diversity Education Department trains teachers on how to combat bullying in the classroom, and each school is required to have a safety team and “character ed” program, which develops students’ confidence and social and interpersonal skills, according to EDED Assistant Director Brandon Moeller.
Character ed programs vary based on each school’s needs, though 16 schools are currently involved in a pilot program called Operation Respect/Welcoming Schools. The program is a partnership between Operation Respect, which works to ensure each child a learning environment “free of bullying, ridicule and violence,” and Welcoming Schools, a Human Rights Campaign project that offers schools resources on “embracing family diversity, avoiding gender stereotyping and ending bullying” that features an LGBT-inclusive approach. Educators are taught to recognize the main targets of bullying, the demographics of their schools, where bullying will most likely take place and how to get bullies back on track.
The district also offers a bullying incident submission form on its website at ccsd.net/students/bully. Forms can be submitted anonymously by anyone who witnesses an incident—students, teachers, parents or community members. The information is sent directly to the appropriate principal, who then begins an investigation with his or her administrative staff.