April 18, 2007

Securing schools after Virginia Tech

Posted in Statistics and reporting, Student violence at 2:24 pm by madisonparent

The tragedy at Virginia Tech is unspeakably horrifying. My heart and prayers go out to the victims and their families and friends. Most of the news swarm around the tragedy spills too much ink on vapid generalizations and sensationalized attention on the murderer. An exception is the Chicago Tribune’s article “Limits to Campus Security” (by Jodi S. Cohen and Rex W. Huppke, published April 16, 2007; free registration required), with clear-eyed reporting on security vulnerabilities, the underreporting of campus crime, and the need for updated and improved crisis management plans.

I’m not interested in hearing any more editorials or reading any more opinion pieces that could just as easily be dusted off and used again when the next school shooting occurs. I’d like to see more journalism examining whether law enforcement response in our community would be rapid and strategic enough to make a difference in a situation when every minute matters, and whether school safety planning has rigorously addressed all possible worst-case scenarios, or whether those in charge of our children’s safety are simply playing the odds. And I’d like to see more research focusing on effective ways in which students in a classroom, school or campus–whether college, high school, middle school or grade school–might be better protected and might better protect themselves against an attacker who is determined to kill. More of the proactive, less of the post-mortem, please.


April 2, 2007

Wisconsin school anti-bullying guidelines

Posted in Bullying, School policy at 7:26 am by madisonparent

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has recently issued its “Bullying Prevention Policy Guidelines“, including the following recommendations:

An assessment needs to be conducted to determine the prevalence of bullying, where it is happening, who is involved, and when it is happening.

Programs must be implemented K–12 and must be comprehensive in nature, including policy, curriculum, and interventions. Administrators must provide strong leadership and commitment for antibullying programs to be successful.

Policy needs to be communicated regularly to students, parents, teachers, and others. Rules against bullying need to be enforced consistently.

The climate of the school must discourage bullying.

Parents need to be educated about bullying, and they need to be involved in prevention efforts.

Quality bullying prevention programming, strategies, and resources need to be developed or purchased.

Strategies for hot spots such as buses, cafeterias, lavatories, and other locations need to be developed. Environmental redesign may need to be considered. Technological monitoring may be effective.

Training needs to be provided for administrators, teachers, and all school staff, including cafeteria workers, bus drivers, playground supervisors, and others.

The district’s computer-use policy needs to include cyberbullying in the list of unacceptable uses of district equipment.

Resources need to be identified to assist bullies, victims, bystanders, and families.

Data must be maintained regarding the effectiveness of bullying prevention efforts.

The guidelines don’t have the force of policy, but are rather intended as “guidance offered for consideration” in the development of antibullying programs in schools.

Wisconsin CESA #2 (which includes the Madison Metropolitan School District) will be offering a Bullying Prevention Curriculum workshop for elementary (grades 3-5) and middle (grades 6-8) classroom instructional units on April 20, 2007.