CENTERBURG — Bullying, harassment and intimidation by classmates continue to be experienced by students in all grade levels. The Centerburg school board and administration have taken steps that will hopefully diminish, if not end, the hurtful practice.
Bullying can be a complicated issue, because different people have different ideas of what bullying actually is. As defined by the state legislature, bullying means a deliberate written, verbal, electronic or physical act by a student that is “sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive” as to cause mental or physical harm to another student.
The 129th General Assembly revised the law and passed what is now called the “Jessica Logan Act.” The act specifically includes electronic bullying in its list of prohibited actions, and also states that school districts need to implement some method to facilitate the anonymous reporting of bullying behavior.
To comply with the anonymous reporting mandate, the Centerburg school board in August approved a contract with Safe School Helpline.
Superintendent Mike Hebenthal said the district, several years ago, was enrolled in another safe school program, which the state at first paid for; but later withdrew funding. Hebenthal said he was unaware of any calls coming in through that helpline.
The new system, which costs $28 per month, has expended services, Hebenthal said. The person reporting an incident is given a case number and the service informs the school district that a complaint has been filed. No information regarding the identity of the person reporting the incident is given out. The service will then convey any follow up questions to the complainant, and so on.
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