The Tennessee Department of Education recently released its first-ever “Bullying and Harassment Compliance Report.” The report centered on the 2012-13 school year.
According to the report, 7,555 cases of bullying were reported during the 2012-13 school year. Approximately 73 percent of those cases, or 5,478, were confirmed as bullying cases after investigation.
Memphis and Shelby County school districts (before the merger) accounted for more than 2,000 of the state’s reported cases, according to Dr. Randy McPherson of Shelby County Schools (SCS).
Manager of behavior and student leadership for SCS, McPherson said 2,247 of the state's reported incidents took place in the Bluff City. Memphis City Schools (MCS) reported 1,982 bullying incidents. However, SCS only reported 265 bullying incidents over the 2012-13 school year.
McPherson said the number of reported incidents only represent about 1.5 percent of the system’s combined student enrollment. He said the reported incidents were classified as either bullying, cyber-bullying, intimidation, or harassment.
“Support services are available for victims of harassment, bullying, intimidation, and cyber-bullying, as well as interventions and targeted counseling and discipline for alleged bullies," McPherson said. "There is a progressive tiered system of delivering counseling and referrals depending on severity of the offense and progress in addressing the problem.
“There is also a heavy emphasis on professional development for staff, prevention programming for students throughout the year, and systems development in schools to help recognize and react to any behavior issue, including bullying. Awareness and prevention is the main focus with quick, effective response systems in place to protect students.”
According to the "Shelby County Student Code of Conduct," harassment, intimidation, bullying, or cyber-bullying are viewed as acts that substantially interfere with a student's educational benefits, educational opportunities, or educational performance. Anything that causes emotional distress to a student, creates a hostile educational environment, physically harms a student or damages a student's property, or knowingly placing a student in reasonable fear of the aforementioned actions falls under the bullying category as well, If the acts takes place on school grounds.