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New Anti-Bullying Safety Plan In Place for Middle School

A rise in the number of harassment, intimidation and bullying incidents at middle school required school administrators to create an anti-bullying safety plan.

The West Deptford Board of Education approved a new school safety plan for the West Deptford Middle School on Monday night. This comes after the middle school was put on a warning list by the state Board of Education based on the number of harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) cases during the 2011-12 school year.

“There was a spike in the middle school's incident numbers,” said Superintendent Kevin Kitchenman. “The middle school administration reached out to the county offices and the county explained that we had this many more harassment, intimidation and bullying incidents than last year."

The school safety plan, which was presented at the meeting prior to its passage, comprises new ways to better educate teachers and students on HIB incidents. A committee formed over the summer to develop the plan, which includes new programs to educate the students on avoiding bullying incidents, training for staff members on how to react and teach the children about proper behavior and programs that are designed to improve character-building between students.

Kitchenman believes that the middle school's HIB numbers were high last year because, with the new law, school administrators were very stringent with reporting cases. He stated that the school did not have a problem with major incidents, such as assaults or fights.

“Our interpretation of the new law was very literal and very by the book,” he said. “And in doing that, it caused us to categorize more situations as harassment, intimidation and bullying then we probably should have.”

Last school year was the first for enforcement of New Jersey's new Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights was enforced. The new law emphasizes cutting down HIB incidents in schools through strict guidelines that required staff members to report HIB incidents to the principal the day of the occurrence. From there, a written report is filed and an investigation into the incident takes place. At the end of the school year, each district must report the number of HIB incidents for each school to the state.

For West Deptford Middle School, the goal is to cut the number of HIB incidents by 37 percent. Reaching this goal will take the school off of the state's warning list. Kitchenman also sees this as an opportunity to better improve the efforts of anti-bullying programs, not just in the middle school, but districtwide.

“We're going to be getting more of a reduction in this and we'll be able to better educate our students,” he said. “That, overall, will help us be able to keep the number of incidents flat or we're even looking for a decrease.”

Sara Hatton September 25, 2012 at 08:25 PM
This plan should include coaches from the township as well. As there is no support for our children when the bullying is done by a adult parent volunteer in the sports arena.
Ernest Kraus September 27, 2012 at 07:23 PM
So the number of cases in West Deptford was up because reports were based on the criteria in the law. What is wrong with following the guidelines? It is a mockery to say that the goal is to reduce the incidence by 37%; this still leaves 63%. The goal should be to reduce it by 100%. One way to reduce incidents would be for the administrators to be out of their offices and walking the halls between classes. The other is to enforce the regulations as written rather then “ not take them so stringently.”
Patricia Harpes September 30, 2012 at 12:29 PM
My daughter was bullied by three older girls until they moved on to high school. The guidance counselor did nothing about it and neither did the admin. In fact Kitchenman didn't answer either phone messages or emails sent regarding the issue. For him to say there isn't a problem just shows how out of touch he is. Enforce the rules and do what the law tells you to do.
harold fisher September 30, 2012 at 11:23 PM
bullying has been goin on for years at the middle school and the teachers just turn their backs. it's bad for the kids that do get bullied.however when something goes wrong like Colubine then things will change real fast. They should have hall monitors and the kid that's doing the bullying should be thrown out of school for good.
Kristi Simpkins October 11, 2012 at 05:25 AM
That sounds like a wonderful plan. Hopefully it works to everyone's benefit. Especially for the children who are the victims of bullying. This plan should also should be used for every school in the district. Especially in the Elementary Schools. That's where & when most bullying begins. First & foremost teaching children about bullying, should always start in their own homes. However this plan in the schools to work along w/ families, could lead to fewer issues/problems amongst children. Whatever has to happen to have less bullying in ours schools is always a good goal to reach.
Carrie December 16, 2012 at 06:07 PM
I had the same problem with him!

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