Bullying a Top Concern at Tulsa-Area Schools

Monday, August 29, 2011

Society's troubles don't stop at the schoolhouse doors, and tallies of weapons, drugs and fights collected by the Oklahoma State Department of Education show just how vigilant officials have to be to ensure that schools remain safe havens for kids.

The data show that bullying is the greatest day-to-day threat to students' safety and security in Tulsa County's largest school districts - Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Jenks, Owasso and Union.

Officials say greater awareness of bullying's emotional and psychological tolls has moved the issue to the forefront of student discipline.

"What used to be considered 'normal' behavior is not anymore," said Kevin Burr, associate superintendent at Tulsa Public Schools. "There have been suicides and situations like Columbine and the media focus. All of that has led to shifts in societal norms. It is now recognized for what it is, which is (something that is) wrong."

The term "bullying" wasn't even in Tulsa Public Schools policy before 2010-11. Now, the district's Behavior Response Plan includes the encompassing definition of "Pestering, bullying, intimidating or threatening even in jest, ... including name-calling, slurs, gestures, physical intimidation or abuse, gang-affiliated intimidation tactics, written threats or graffiti or other oral, written, graphic, electronically-generated or physical conduct of a harassing nature including verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature."

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