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Report: Violence, Vandalism in West Deptford Schools Lowest in 4 Years

The district saw nearly 100 fewer incidents between 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Incidents of violence and vandalism in the West Deptford School District fell to their lowest point in four school years in 2012, down by nearly 100 incidents, according to figures reported by Superintendent Kevin Kitchenman.

There were 33 total incidents in the 2012-13 school year as compared with 129 in 2011-12. The highest number of incidents reported in the last four years was 135, in 2010-11.

Reported incidents were at their lowest in each individual category, as well, with zero weapons offenses being reported for the first time. Other categories include violence (26 incidents), vandalism (1) and substance abuse (6).

West Deptford High School reported just four incidents of violence, one incident of vandalism and six incidents of substance abuse in 2012-13.

The biggest drop in violent incidents was observed at the township middle school, which alone had reported 26 incidents in 2011-12. That number fell to 16 in 2012-13.
Harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) statistics were included for the first time this year. A total of 24 incidents were reported, 18 of which occurred at the middle school.

“Our high school numbers are amazingly low,” Kitchenman said. “I think it’s because of the education they’ve received. I commend our staff and our anti-bullying specialists for their hard work.”

When the anti-bullying law was passed in 2010, counselors went into every classroom to explain the specifics of the new law, Kitchenman said.

Since then, guidance counselors visit classes at the three elementary schools one classroom at a time over an extended period of time, Kitchenman said. A team meeting is held at the middle school.

The category “effect” most reported was that a student insulted or demeaned a student or group of students (21), but the use of physical or emotional violence to create a hostile educational environment (11) and the disruption of “the orderly operation of the school or the students” was also pervasive (19).

In an effort to decrease incidents, the school district has taken several measures, including individual and group counseling, assemblies and character education programs, random drug testing of athletes and students involved in activities and who drive to school and "Friends of Rachel" groups in both the high school and the middle school, among others, according to the report.

Friends of Rachel is a group formed in the memory of Rachel Joy Scott, the first student killed in the Columbine High School shooting in 1998. The national program's goal is to reduce bullying in schools.

Kitchenman delivers the annual report in two presentations, one in the fall and one in the spring. Kitchenman will present the fall 2013 statistics in the spring.

“I think we’ll see the numbers are down even more from last year,” he said.

The district is still addressing a lawsuit from a former student who alleges that she was bullied from middle school into high school.

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