TOLEDO—Students at Toledo St. Patrick of Heatherdowns gathered Oct. 31 with principal Debora O’Shea to discuss the school’s bully prevention policy and ways they are able to report incidents they observe or experience.
The school has introduced a new anti-bullying program to students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade as a supplement to the anti-bullying programs already being used within the school.
An anti-bullying policy was adopted from the Bullying Prevention Policy for Schools outlined by the Diocese of Toledo, and copies of the Bully Prevention Pledge have been posted throughout the building this school year.
“At St. Patrick of Heatherdowns we are dedicated to providing a safe and secure learning environment for all of your children and our students,” Mrs. O’Shea wrote in a letter posted to the school website. “However, bullying has become a serious challenge across the nation. Recent studies have shown that over 20 percent of students feel unsafe at school due to direct or observed teasing, threats, bullying and other stressors.”
St. Patrick has implemented TIPS, a web-based tool for reporting, tracking and documenting incidents and concerns. It empowers students, parents, teachers and community members to be heard and to anonymously report warning signs and trouble.
The goal of TIPS is prevention and to help identify red flags and warning signs before an incident occurs or escalates. Parents, volunteers, staff or students can use the link, which has been provided to all Toledo diocesan schools.
A resource tab on the school website includes the bully prevention pledge as well as the link to report bullying.
Many times children aren’t even aware that the emotional or verbal abuse inflicted upon them by another schoolmate is bullying. But any qualifying incident needs to be reported, which is why Mrs. O’Shea felt it was vital to have the ability to report bullying electronically, from anywhere.
Mrs. O’Shea explained that anyone guilty of bullying is to be punished using the guidelines set forth in the parent/student handbook. This too has been made available for quick reference on the school website under “Resources.”
As the students were dismissed from the presentation, each was given a Bullying Prevention Pledge to take home, review with their parents, sign and return. They were told that these pledges would be kept in the school office so that anytime an issue might come up in which a student was involved with bullying, they would be first reminded of their pledge not to bully.
St. Patrick also holds a full-day retreat called “Change Day” for seventh-graders each fall. Activities are centered on treating one another with respect and having empathy towards one another’s differences.
It is Mrs. O’Shea’s hope that by implementing TIPS through the guidance of the Diocese of Toledo and continuing Change Day, the students of St. Patrick of Heatherdowns will become more aware of their actions and those of students around them and move toward empathy and compassion instead of bullying.