AUSTIN – As part of Texas Safe Schools Week (Oct. 19-25), the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) at Texas State University and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) today joined forces to remind districts and charters of resources available to help address and combat bullying and cyberbullying on campuses.
“One of the biggest issues facing students, parents and school officials today is the prevalence and lasting effects of bullying,” said Dr. Victoria Calder, executive director of the Texas School Safety Center. “Incidents of bullying can affect the school environment, the community and most importantly the psychological and emotional wellbeing of young people.”
The Texas Education Code defines bullying as “engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, or in a vehicle operated by the district and that has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a student, damaging a student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or of damage to the student’s property; or is sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student.”
“Our schools must always be safe learning environments for every student,” said Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. “Everyone in education should work every day to assure that our schools are always places of learning, growth and encouragement. Bullying in any form cannot be condoned.”
Bullying remains one of the most prevalent and widely discussed topics pertaining to school safety and security. The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that, among Texas students, 19.1 percent of students had been bullied on school property and 13.8 percent of students had been electronically bullied (what has now become commonly known as cyberbullying) during the 12 months before the survey. In both cases, the CDC reported that the prevalence of bullying was higher among females than males.
In 2011, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1942 (HB 1942) mandating that schools must make campuses safer for all students, specifically regarding the issues of bullying and cyberbullying. Executive Director Calder and Commissioner Williams noted that under the Texas Education Code:
- Local school district policies must prohibit bullying and harassment;
- District employees must enforce these policies;
- Parents have the opportunity to transfer their child to another campus; and
- Students should report any bullying or threats to the nearest teacher.
To help highlight the relationship of safe and bully free schools to a positive learning environment in which students can thrive, the Texas School Safety Center will present the 2nd Annual Texas Bully Prevention Summit, on Thursday Oct. 30, at the Embassy Suites in San Marcos. Building upon the success of the 2013 Summit, this year’s summit will provide an exceptional opportunity to receive training on best practices for bullying identification, prevention, reporting and response, and serves as a way to sustain Safe School messages throughout the year. More details about the summit and registration information are available at http://txssc.txstate.edu/events/bully-summit/.
Texas Safe Schools Week is held annually in conjunction with the national America’s Safe Schools Week. To read the Governor’s Safe School Week proclamation, the joint Texas Education Agency-Texas School Safety Center proclamation or to learn more about Texas Safe Schools Week topics, visit the Texas Education Agency website at www.tea.state.tx.us or the Texas School Safety Center website at http://txssc.txstate.edu/.