The Ladue School District has had anti-bullying programs in place for years. The district has made a significant investment in detection and training in anti-bullying programs. Early detection is quite common at all levels: elementary, middle and high school.
Patch.com had an extensive conversation with Pablo Flynn, Director of Educational Services for Student Support and Assessment concerning these important efforts.
Patch.com: Are anti-bullying programs key in this district.
Pablo Flinn: Certainly, it is one of the key components and an issue we all try and address all the time.
Patch: Has bullying always been around if not identified by specific name.
Flinn: Bullying has been a concern since I was a child. The title has been there. What is developing is the social/emotional well being of students we continue to address. Bullying as a title has become more wide spread with the media, but something that has always been a concern to the district. We want all students to feel healthy when they walk into our schools.
Patch: Do the bigger kids on the playgrounds even realize they are bullying other children.
Flinn: The fact is that even adults do it. It is not about perception. More it is about one feels when they are actually being bullied.
Part of that is defining what that actually looks like. On the playground there are issues among peers about who gets to go first. There are conversations at the early ages and older ages about what you should do if you are being bullied or see someone else who is being bullied also.
The important conversation is often what would the bystanders actually do.
Patch: Does bullying look different at each level of education.
Flinn: This is certainly true in K-12 education. The district several years ago looked at improving the schools curriculum. We never take a boxed product of what we would do. Several years ago, the counselors started having some concentrated conversations about lessons related to bullying, and what it looks like and what it feels like for bystanders not just the victim and to create ways to have reporting.
We modified a lot of that at middle school because in 6th, 7th and 8th grade in terms of focus, it looks different. We still concentrate on the reporting piece and the identifying piece.
7th grade is about relationship with peers and 8th grade is about what sexual harassment looks like.
The conversation has become specific to students in high school and more on identification. Again, the bystanders are drawn in. If bystanders see something that doesn’t look right, they need to know who they should report to. Whether its counselors, administrators and having some actions formed. We want our students to feel comfortable with sharing their concerns.
At the high school we have the Link Crew which is a program where junior and senior students are having good conversations with freshmen. Part of that is about peer pressure and why it is important to share concerns. Peers sharing among peers is more important than anything in building that sense of community.
Part 2 deals with character education and other district wide programs.