On July 1, legislation named for Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old boy from Tehachapi, Calif. who killed himself after suffering cruel homophobic taunts from classmates, went into effect. Now, following the passage of Seth’s Law, school districts across the state are tightening up their bullying policies in attempt to prevent student suicides following intense bullying from occurring.
As increasingly sophisticated technology becomes tools to harm and harass students, school districts struggle to keep pace and develop policies that best protect students from new forms of bullying and cyber-bullying.
Glendora Unified School District officials say they are doing their best to prevent bullying in schools and create safe havens on school campuses.
The Glendora Unified School Board approved revisions to its district policy Monday evening in response to Seth’s Law and to promote awareness on bullying intervention and prevention – not just for students, but for their parents and teachers, as well.
“While students should be informed on what our policies are on bullying, parents should be, too,” said Ann Keyes, director of student support services.
And while district has made efforts in the past to teach students about the dangers of bullying through forums and events, Keyes said the policy revision would allow more emphasis on educating parents on the district policy on bullying.
Keyes said the district’s policy on bullying provides guidelines on intervention, how to report bullying, district investigations and how to receive a complaint.
The policy cites several options for bullying prevention and intervention, including promoting conflict resolution and communication skills, social skills, respect and tolerance for differing cultures and backgrounds and appropriate online behavior.
Keyes said the district will also initiate regular trainings for district staff and faculty on how to intervene in and report cases of physical, verbal and cyber-bullying.
While national cases of children spurred to suicide following relentless bullying have made headlines, countless cases of bullying go unreported on school campuses every day.
Isaiah Baiseri, a Glendora High School graduate and advocate for the Gay Straight Alliance Network, recalled his experiences with cyber-bullying during his freshman year of high school.
“It was super depressing,” Baiseri told Patch in 2011. “I really gave up on trying to have a social life at the time and I just focused on school, and my entire outlook changed because I was still not comfortable to let the entire world know [I was gay].”
Baiseri said if it were not for the intervention of an English teacher, he believes the bullying would have continued.
For the cases that are reported, Keyes said the district is working to ensure that the district properly responds to and investigate those cases.
Last year, a special needs student at Sandburg Middle School was unknowingly photographed by another student as she undressed in a school locker room. While school officials denied that the incident was related to bullying, it prompted concerns about the use of smart phones on campus and policies on cyber-bullying.
In November of last year, the district made revisions to its policy to include policies on cell phone usage.
“[Cyber-bullying] is still a new field, but the policy covers how to investigate these cases, and what are the parameters,” said Keyes. “We work to intervene and resolve, and we do our best to respond to students and parents.”