Researchers at the University of Kansas have been hired by the State Department of Education to develop a model anti-bullying policy for use in schools statewide.
All Kansas schools must have an anti-bullying policy, but coming up with effective policies and practices to meet that requirement can get complicated. Researchers at the University of Kansas plan to launch a statewide series of meetings in October to present educators with a model policy to build their own programs around.
Clinical child psychologist Paula Fite is helping to lead the effort. Fite says bullying—in all of its forms—has a direct impact on classroom performance.
“Kids are wondering, instead of paying attention to the teacher, who’s going to get picked on next, are they gonna make fun of my clothes, and are they gonna post something on Facebook about what I did today?" says Fite.
"Whereas the bully might be sitting there wondering who their next victim’s gonna be, where can they get by with doing these behaviors? And the bystander is sitting there wondering how am I going to intervene, as opposed to being able to pay attention to what’s going on.”
Fite says it’s difficult for schools to meet performance standards in that kind of a climate. The workshops will include strategies for staff on how to report bullying, and how to respond to it.