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Baltimore County Schools Crack Down on Bullying

Officials released a report on combating bullying in schools during Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting.

Bad news for bullies in Baltimore County public schools—suspensions are increasing among students who intimidate and harass their classmates.

A report released during Tuesday night's Baltimore County Public Schools Board of Education meeting detailed the county's efforts to combat bullying, action mandated by the state's Safe Schools Reporting Act of 2005.

The county's anti-bullying efforts include preventative measures and swift disciplinary actions—including suspension—according to Glenda Myrick, the county schools coordinator of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, who presented the report to the board. 

Reported incidents of bullying have increased more than 350 percent between 2007 and 2011, going from 142 to 510. During that same time, suspensions related to bullying have nearly doubled, rising from 248 to 474, according to the report.

School officials attribute much of the rapid growth in reporting to a rule change in 2009 that allowed the system to count incidents reported by faculty members. Previously, only reports made by students and family members were counted, Myrick said.

As more students have access to the Internet and cell phones, cyberbullying has also emerged as a concern. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have increasingly become avenues of intimidation and harassment, according to the report.

"It starts in elementary school, but the greatest trend is in middle school," Myrick said.

Bullying is most commonly reported among seventh-graders, she added.

"Character education" programs, especially in the county's elementary schools, are intended to help curb the problem among rising middle school students, Myrick said.

"The key is intervention and to get out in front of the issue—we really have to be proactive," board President said during the presentation.

Board member asked if bullying incidents have led to lawsuits against the county. The board's legal counsel confirmed that there are multiple pending lawsuits.

"It's part of a national trend and has gained a great deal of attention," said Superintendent following the meeting. "I think those lawsuits tend to be designed to help people seek some kind of help and support."

Hairston said he was unable to comment on the number of pending lawsuits against the county because it is a legal issue.

He emphasized the county's ongoing efforts toward combating bullying.

"You can have good instruction when there's a healthy climate, when kids get along well with each other. Addressing those social issues is just as important as the academic," he said.

Have you noticed an increase in bullying at your child's school? Share your advice for dealing with bullying in the comments.

Buzz Beeler March 08, 2013 at 10:05 AM
Mandy, Baltimore County does not care about bullying. The schools won't back the teachers and ignore many situations because they don't want to be PC incorrect. In fact there are no state or local laws that protect children or adults from cyber bullying. Just ask the county states attorney. Find some teachers you know and ask them. Why do you think the city backed down from suspending kids. Because in a liberal society no does anything wrong.
Terrie March 13, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Please contact Dale Rauenzahn, Executive Director, School Safety and Security, BCPS. 410-887-4360. He attended the SECAC meeting on Monday night and specifically stated if attempts to work with principals did not yield results parents should contact his office. From the discussion at the meeting, it appears there has been some… confusion or mishaps about reports not being filed by principals in the last year or so leading to a drop in the numbers causing some misrepresentation of the stats. Go figure.
Buzz Beeler March 13, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Terrie, principles don't want smudges on their records like the number of suspensions so they keep anything that is a problem under the rug. It makes them look good but does nothing to solve the problem. All government agencies practice that type of reporting so they all look like they are doing their jobs.
Marcie May 28, 2013 at 02:57 PM
I just pulled my daughter from Middle River Middle due to being jumped, bullying, harrassment and witness intimidation. She will go to a small private school next year. We filed harrassment papers against some of these kids multiple times and all they do is peer mediation. I just went to the superintendent- their control of the kids is almost non existent. My daughter is now afraid these girls will find out where she lives. Its a shame. Things are going downhill fast due to lax punishments. My son punched a bully in the face- got one day suspension- and they understood he was being bullied for over 6 moths by this boy- and since my son spoke back it was not called bullying but a confrontation. He never had future problems. My daughter has been harrassed through the year then got jumped and beat up- and from what I can tell the girl was back after one day- how are they both worthy of a one day suspension?? It is ridiculous. Mandy- I am with you!!! I will not allow my daughter back in that school unless they can guarantee her safety. The kids are out of control at this school! My son is off to Easter Tech- I know he will be safe their- but my daughter is going into 7th so she is off to private school. I refuse to put her through this anymore- she too went from B student to almost failing. It is horrible.
CP May 28, 2013 at 03:41 PM
Bullying come from the parents. Maybe punishment should be re-examined. Make it a crime.

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