On November 27, 2012 Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds held the Iowa Governor’s Bullying Prevention Summit in Des Moines, Iowa. This summit was intended to raise awareness about the pervasive problem of bullying, and to send the strongest possible message that our schools alone cannot stop it, that communities must become more engaged in taking the steps needed to address this issue.
Although awareness is growing, many Iowans may be surprised at the extent of bullying that takes place at school, from teasing to major incidents that make the news. The 2010 Iowa Youth Survey reported 50 percent of students surveyed said that in the last 30 days they had been bullied at school in one of the following ways: “I was called names, was made fun of, or teased in a hurtful way; other students left me out of things on purpose, excluded me from their group of friends, or completely ignored me; I was hit, kicked, pushed, shoved around, or locked indoors; other students told lies, spread false rumors about me, and tried to make others dislike me; I was made fun of because of my race or color; I was made fun of because of my religion; other students made sexual jokes, comments, or gestures that hurt my feelings; I have received a threatening or hurtful message from another student in an email, on a website, on a cell phone, from pager text messaging, in an internet chat room, or in instant messaging.”
This is unacceptable. Creating a caring environment at school is important for every student’s well-being. It affects how successfully youngsters can focus on learning as well as the other skills they need to develop to make the most of their potential and to be good citizens. Iowa schools and communities have been working hard on anti-bullying efforts. The summit was an opportunity to learn from some of them, as well as other state and national experts, about how to make schools a more civil, welcoming place for everyone.
Students and staff from both Van Buren and Harmony School Districts attended this event. One student noted one of the things that stood out to her was that “It takes a whole community to stop bullying, not just one program or one school, it takes everyone.” Another piece of information that was gained from the event was a quote that the Waukee high school had shared; “Always treat each other with kindness and respect”. One student felt this should be a motto here in Van Buren County. “If we remember that before we speak or act, it could help us from making mistakes that could result in bullying” said Abby Rider- Van Buren High School Junior. Students in both school districts are working on videos that will show some of the effects of bullying as well as things their school is doing to help prevent bullying from happening. Staff members feel it is important to revisit their bullying/and harassment policies with students and staff on a regular basis to ensure everyone is complying with the guidelines set forth by the state and the districts.
For more information on the bullying prevention summit you may visit their website at: https://preventbullying.iowa.gov/. A re-broadcast of the Summit was aired on IPTV on November 29th and will be available online after December 7th at: https://educateiowa.eduvision.tv/default.aspx