Two local school districts saddened by bullying-related suicides have reported that the issue remains firmly in the collective consciousness of administrators, teachers, parents and students although the headlines have faded.
Springfield Public Schools officials said bullying incidents have dropped from 443 in 2010 – a year after 11-year-old Carl Walker Hoover hanged himself after being bullied at the now-closed New Leadership Charter School – to 167 in 2013. The school’s closure this year was not linked to the tragedy.
Springfield has seen significant gains in the bullying realm despite receiving just $1,500 in state funding since 2010. Azell Murphy-Cavaan, communications director for the school system, said there were 250 bullying incidents in 2011 and 275 in 2012. These were defined as skirmishes that were investigated, deemed as bullying and prompted the offenders to be disciplined.
“An allegation of bullying is not recorded as a bullying incident until after an investigation has taken place at the school level and proven to, in fact, rise to the level of bullying. Once that occurs, the school reports it to the district, which then captures and records the data,” Murphy-Cavaan said.