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Texas safe schools week to help schools combat bullying

MGN Online
Monday, October 21, 2013 - 3:00pm

As part of Texas Safe Schools Week (Oct. 20-26), the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) at Texas State University and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) today joined forces to remind districts and charters of resources available to help address and combat bullying and cyberbullying on campuses.

The Texas Education Code defines bullying as "engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, or in a vehicle operated by the district and that has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a student, damaging a student's property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student's person or of damage to the student's property; or is sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student."

"We all recognize that bullying creates a negative climate for students, staff, parents and the community. Educators and students must work together to prevent bullying in our schools and our communities," said Dr. Victoria Calder, Director of the Texas School Safety Center. "We know that bullying has a profound effect on youth that often continues into adulthood. When we come together as a community to insist that bullying stop, we must all be prepared to identify, prevent, report and recover from incidents of bullying."

"Bullying, in any form, cannot and should not be condoned," said Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. "Our schools should always be a place of learning, growth and encouragement for all students, and everyone in education should work each day to assure that a safe learning environment always exists."

Bullying remains one of the most prevalent and widely discussed topics pertaining to school safety and security. The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that 20.1 percent of students had been bullied on school property and 16.2 percent of students had been electronically bullied (what has now become commonly known as cyberbullying) during the 12 months before the survey.

In 2011, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1942 (HB 1942) mandating that schools must make campuses safer for all students, specifically regarding the issues of bullying and cyberbullying. Dr. Calder and Commissioner Williams noted that under the Texas Education Code:

  • Local school district policies must prohibit bullying and harassment;
  • District employees must enforce these policies;
  • Parents have the opportunity to transfer their child to another campus; and
  • Students should report any bullying or threats to the nearest teacher.

The Texas School Safety Center has developed a short video on its website that discusses the key components of HB 1942. To view the video, as well as to review TxSSC resources designed to combat bullying, visit http://txssc.txstate.edu/topics/bullying/.

In addition, the Center is hosting its inaugural Texas Bully Prevention Summit on Thursday, Oct. 30, in San Marcos.

"Those who attend will have the unique opportunity to learn specific skills and strategies that can be used in their local communities and schools to prevent bullying and create safer learning environments for all. The­ Bully Prevention Summit is an exceptional opportunity to receive training on best practices for bullying identification, prevention, reporting and response," Dr. Calder said.

More details about the summit and registration information are available at http://txssc.txstate.edu/events/bully-summit/.

Texas Safe Schools Week is held annually in conjunction with the national America's Safe Schools Week. To read the Governor's Safe School Week proclamation, the joint Texas Education Agency-Texas School Safety Center proclamation or to learn more about Texas Safe Schools Week topics, visit the Texas Education Agency website at www.tea.state.tx.us or the Texas School Safety Center website at http://txssc.txstate.edu/.

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