Sioux City Schools continues the talk about bullying. Arguably, the top challenges for the Schools, which are also a challenges for schools across the nation is the growth of cyber-bullying and the role schools play in it.
For example, Sioux City Schools handed out netbooks to the majority of its high school students this year. Some social media sites are blocked from 6:00am-6:00pm (per conversation at DAC 1/26/12). So students can access those sites on Schools property, but outside school hours and from their homes. What is the Schools’ role in monitoring the abuse of those services after 6:00pm?
The data that the Sioux City Schools has been able to collect, and use, is improving and growing, but the true validity of that data can only be called questionable. As is the nature of relationship and cyber-bullying, much of the violence in the District community is purposely, and admittedly, nearly invisible. Worst of all, it is continually growing, especially in the realm of cyber-bullying.
It used to be that there was a physical altercation at school, that was dealt with, then people would go home for the weekend and by Monday everyone had moved on. Anger and aggression, after all, have been proven to dissipate with time and space. However, this is not the way cyber-bullying operates. Messages are often stronger because they can be made by proxy, and they remain there, for anyone to see. Since they stay there on the screen, anyone can visit and revisit and re-live the insult, each time increasing the trauma it imposes. Add to that the fact that the cyber-world and its impact on our lives is absolutely snowballing, and organizations such as schools ignoring it would be total failure in the service to the kids and the future they are supposed to be serving.
The Sioux City School District has progressive and aggressive policies aimed at preventing and addressing violence. They are supported by public and private community organizations. There is no shame in the fact that the District is still, with all the resources devoted to the issue, struggling. On the contrary, there is a lot of antidotal evidence that the attention and the resources dedicated to social health for the community are improving the situation. It says more about the issue of violence in our society that bullying is such a powerful force regardless of our dedication to defeat it.
Bullying is an extraordinarily enormous and multi-dynamic social health issue. Some of the related topics and tools the Sioux City School District is using in continued efforts to improve the community’s experience with the Schools include: increasing communication both internally and externally, continued community engagement (including special focus on parents) efforts, improved professional development resources, and most importantly, keeping these topics in the forefront of conversations.