VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — There’s no question bullying can do real long term damage to a victim, but a Virginia law aimed at helping with the problem may be a waste of time in some cases.
As many as one in three students say they have been bullied at school.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the numbers aren’t going up, but awareness is. It is talked about so much that sometimes kids get confused, and it’s costing teachers time that could be spent on academics.
“One of the things we are trying to do is educate people on the difference between having a negative confrontation with somebody, which happens, and bullying,” said Dr. Aaron Spence, Superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools.
Virginia law requires school principals to notify the parent of any student involved in an alleged incident of bullying and of the status of any investigation within five school days of the allegation.
Spence says there are a lot of questions and paper work involved in those incident reports.
“Somebody saying on the playground, ‘Hey, I don’t like your shirt,’ and it happens one time and it’s between two people that otherwise can get along and be in the same room, that’s not bullying,” he said.
Bullying is about power.
It’s defined as: Aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to harm, intimidate, or humiliate the victim; and it is repeated over time or causes severe emotional trauma.
Spence believes the intent of the law is right, but if the kids or parents put the wrong label on a situation it can get out of hand.
He says the goal is “to create a safe classroom environment and a place where children feel safe but also to keep children in the classroom and to make sure learning continues.”
Spence emphasizes that real bullying is not tolerated in Virginia Beach schools and teachers and administrators want to make sure kids report problems so they can listen and determine the best way to deal with conflicts of all kinds.