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Articles: Student Conduct

Nancy Willard is director of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age and author of books on bullying.

This is the disturbing opening from a Los Angeles Times article published a year ago:

“Two students from separate schools committed suicide within days of each other this month—which is National Bullying Prevention Month—and both boys apparently had been bullied. Now, parents are asking questions not just about bullying but also about anti-bullying videos, which both schools aired shortly before the incidents.”

With electronic cigarette use among middle and high school students having more than doubled over the past three years, administrators nationwide are banning these products on campus.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-powered devices that provide doses of nicotine and other additives in aerosol form. The FDA Center for Tobacco Products said last spring that it will regulate e-cigarettes but has not yet issued any rules. Until the FDA does more intensive testing of these products, little will be know about the chemicals inhaled or the potential impact on health.

Districts that treat students with emotional disabilities with a “one-size-fits-all” behavioral approach across the system must change their policies, according to federal findings in a case against the Prince William County Public Schools in Virginia.

Angela Ciolfi, legal director of the Legal Aid Justice Center’s JustChildren Program, and two other attorneys filed a complaint in November of 2012 with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education.

North East ISD in San Antonio banned all but clear or mesh backpacks after a  student allegedly brought three loaded guns and a knife to a high school in April.

Recent school stabbings and cases of students caught with weapons have driven some districts to ban traditional cloth backpacks in favor of easily searchable clear or mesh bags.

Gibbsboro eighth graders share a research project on “Giving Back Day,” which focuses on the “Super 7” elements of service.

In a New Jersey seventh-grade history class, students put Christopher Columbus “on trial” to determine whether the explorer was a good or bad leader.

Author Nancy Willard is director of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age. (Image by Bruce Searl)

In a 2011 National Crime Victimization Survey, close to 1.2 million students reported that someone was hurtful to them at school once a week or more. This rate has not significantly declined since 2005. Of this number, close to 540,000 students say this happens “almost daily.”

Furthermore, over 700,000 students reported they were “fearful of attack or harm” at school “sometimes” or “most of the time.”

High schools in Connecticut and Texas have blocked a new social media app from school Wi-Fi servers after several reports of cyberbullying.

Author Nancy Willard tackles the age-old problem of bullying with 21st century solutions.

Positive Relations @ School (& Elsewhere): Legal Ramifications & Positive Strategies to Address Bullying & Harassment

Embrace Civility in the Digital Age

More states are allowing schools to have armed staff to defend students against active shooters, nearly a year and a half after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut.

In 2013, 21 states strengthened gun laws to require trigger-locking devices and background checks for private sales, says Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. At the same time, the National Rifle Association (NRA) made a public push to allow more security guards or staff members to carry guns in schools, after 40 to 60 hours of firearms training.

At Sells Middle School in the Dublin City School District in Ohio, school administrators are using the Complete Student Safety and Behavior System technical tool to track student tardiness and how it might relate to school fights.

It was a lunch hour more than 10 years ago when Terri Lozier, now a principal in another district just outside Chicago, was sucked into the violence of a school fight. Then a teacher, she was supervising the cafeteria when one girl tried to strangle another.

Some administrators are analyzing student traffic patterns to eliminate the bumping, pushing and shoving—and in turn, the fighting—that occurs in overcrowded hallways and stairwells.

Randy Boardman of the Crisis Prevention Institute says that one middle school with particularly narrow hallways solved the problem by cutting down on hallway traffic.

Kevin Kinker of K-9 Interventions brings his search dog Anna to Mona Shores Public Schools. Anna can detect drugs, alcohol and guns.

Students in a Michigan district say they feel safer this year thanks to dogs that regularly search schools for weapons and illegal substances, a new survey shows.

Daniel Mahoney is vice president of risk control for Glatfelter Public Practice, a public entity specialist providing risk management services and insurance products to schools.

Medical emergencies can happen in any school at any time. They can be the result of pre-existing health problems, accidents, violence, unintentional actions, natural disasters and toxins. Premature deaths in schools from sudden cardiac arrest, blunt trauma to the chest, gunshot wounds, asthma, head injuries, drug overdose, allergic reactions and heat stroke have been reported.

Fourth grade teacher Joan Meehan works with student Erica Moye. Meehan had the same students in third grade and says they’re making progress.

Crowds of students who’d left their classes without permission used to prowl the halls of the K8 Clemente Leadership Academy in New Haven, Conn. Students fought, used profanities and verbally abused staff. Teachers spent more time on discipline than instruction. Clemente, long known as a place to send troubled students, sunk under the weight of low expectations to become one of New Haven’s lowest-performing schools.

Less than half of U.S. states have policies to combat cyberbullying in schools despite recent media coverage of students who committed suicide after suffering persistent online harassment.

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