Ohio Governor John Kasich signed an anti-bullying bill this February that requires all schools in Ohio to have a system through which harassment can be reported online. This law will impact Talawanda High School (THS) students who experience cyber bullying, triggered by comments made on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, according to Mike Malone, assistant principal at THS. “There is some bullying at all levels,” Holli Morrish, head of communication and public relations at THS said. To create awareness about this issue, THS is conducting a survey for students and parents regarding bullying and other social issues. Administrators believe it is important for parents to know how the school personnel can be helpful, Morrish said. The school tries to emphasize positive things the children should learn. They start by explaining the basics of bullying and what consequences it could have and organize peer mediation sessions to help students, according to Morrish. “The kids are being taught to respect other people,” Morrish said. Many students go to a counselor after experiencing or witnessing bullying, according to THS counselor Matt Smith.
THS has an open door policy and students are encouraged to talk if they experience bullying. The school also urges students to get involved in organizations and groups like social skills group that might be of use for students, Smith said. “Kids come to us,” Smith said. Students who do not feel comfortable talking with their guidance counselors about such issues can call a hotline number or use an online service to file complaints, Morrish said.
Despite the options students have for getting help, Malone said he believes the best resources for the students at THS are the adults in the school who take situations regarding bullying very seriously.
Bullying can have serious consequences at THS with discipline varying from in-school suspension to out of school suspension, according to Malone.
“We have an extensive bullying education program,” Morrish said.
The PRIDE program is one bullying prevention program at THS that helps the students understand each other better, according to Malone. Miami University sophomore Ankita Pandey said she believes bullying is a serious and common issue. “I have younger siblings and I would never want them to go through something like bullying,” Pandey said. “Bullying can have an impact on a kid’s mind that might last a long time.”