There were 35 incidents of harassment, intimidation, and bullying in Wayne public schools last year confirmed by the Board of Education in the 2012-13 school year.
Officials investigated 104 reported incidents. Students were targeted on the basis of a student’s “perceived disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and sexual orientation,” officials discovered.
Naomi Conklin, the district’s anti-bullying coordinator, said that incidents “across the board” in all academic levels, elementary, middle, and high school. Conklin did not give specific numbers on how many incidents occurred on what level.
A team of administrators, teachers, a school resource officer, participated in Rutgers University’s Bullying Prevention Institute, a yearlong program that helps districts develop a custom bullying prevention plan.
The team concluded that much of student bullying takes place digitally on social media.
“Students spend a lot of time engaging with each other and they bring the communication they have with each other outside of school to school,” Conklin said. “We have to take into consideration how they are engaging with each other through social media because the kids come back to school and bring the matter in which they engaging in with them.”
The district’s is running the Helping Everyone Respect Others (HERO) this year. Officials launched the program last year to foster a sense of community and respect between students in all grades.
“Each school’s safety team will develop a different set of programs specific to that school,” Conklin said. “We want to remind each other that we can, and should be, heroes to each other everyday.”
The district is also partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of Wayne, the Wayne Alliance for the Prevention of Substance Abuse, and the police department to quell bullying.
Patricia Wright, co-chairperson of the Governor’s Anti-Bullying Task Force, will meet with the district’s school safety teams next month to discuss anti-bullying strategies. The task force was created via the state’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, which Gov. Chris Christie signed into law in 2011.