Reporting without a trace
Burton students can report bullies anonymously
The Burton School District is making it easier for its students to report bullying.
By pushing a “send” button on a smart phone or computer, the reporting is done, said Sergio Mendoza, director of categorical and alternative programs, reporting to the District’s Board of Trustees Sept. 4 during a reading of board policy concerning bullying.
Mendoza reported on the Sprigeo Anonymous Online Bully Reporting System — a method for reporting bullying incidents electronically and anonymously.
“I’m pleased to hear we’ve been connected and are on board — posting an icon at each [school] site to report action anonymously,” said Sharon Kamberg, assistant superintendent, curriculum of Burton School District.
“No student or group of students shall, through physical, written, verbal, or other means, harass, sexually harass, threaten, intimidate cyber bully, cause bodily injury to, or commit hate violence against any other student or school personnel,” — the Burton Board policy states.
The Sprigeo system will help by identifying trends in bullying behavior, tracking action taken and reducing bullying incidents at the school.
Board member Jay Rice said he liked the idea of alleviating a student’s fear about reporting, and Eddie Hernandez, said he would like to see examples of posters that will be placed at each school.
What is great about the program, said Burton Middle School Principal Michelle Pengilly, is that students do not need to wait until they are at a computer, but can report an incident direct from a cell phone.
An online form allows the students to report bullying, harassment or intimidation at school, and bullying, harassment or intimidation outside of school, including cyber bullying on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and by text or instant messaging.
They can also report fights, drugs, alcohol or weapons at school, or friends who talk about hurting themselves.
The students are encouraged to give as much information as possible, including first name, last name and grade of person being reported, a description of what happened and if there are any witnesses. Reporting their own name is optional, as is adding a phone number.
School administrators receive report details in a secure e-mail the moment a student sends a report. Administrators can also access the reports through a secure online dashboard, allowing them to identify trends in incident location, while noting follow up action and creating data reports.
The school, however, can not discipline a student over certain social-media situations.
“If a parent says ‘My daughter was trashed over the weekend on Facebook,’ we can’t do anything. Basically, it’s a Freedom of Speech issue,” Kamberg said. “But if events occur at school, or if students are texting in class about an incident, we can use the situation as a back door in to discipline.”
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.