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Old 08-09-2005, 04:44 PM   #1
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Bullying and Schools

[Q]Concern over new bullying database

Polly Curtis, education correspondent
Tuesday August 9, 2005

Children's rights groups have expressed concerns that a new database to monitor instances of bullying and violence in schools could infringe on the rights of children.
Sentinel for Bullying software is currently being trialled in by Rotherham council. It will allow the local authority to monitor all instances of bullying, violence or racial attacks recorded by its schools so that it can identify trends and bullying hotspots. Repeat offenders will also be identified by the software, Vantage, the company behind the scheme, said.

Rotherham council said that the new system was simply a digital replacement for the paper trail which currently exists. But children's rights campaigners insist that pupils should be able to challenge the information stored on the database, or it would contravene database protection laws.

The pilot scheme will run in Rotherham for the academic year from September 2005. All 16 secondary schools and four of the largest primary schools within the local education authority will be taking part.

Helen Longland, the assistant director of education at the council, said: "It's part of the modernisation agenda to reduce bureaucracy. At the moment, when there are instances of bullying, schools fill in a report and submit it. The benefit is that it should improve the opportunity to analyse trends and patterns."

She said that part of the pilot would be to design a standardised form which all the schools will fill in. It has not been confirmed what information would be included, although the system will include details of the people involved in incidents. Schools will only be able to access their own information and only key senior local authority figures would be able to access information from across the system, she said.

"With any electronic system people always have concerns, but like any organisation we look very carefully at who is using the system. People leave pieces of paper on desks and that could be even less secure."

Terri Dowty, of Action for Rights of Children in Education, said that the group had concerns with the new service. "What rights will children have to challenge the information that's stored? The children or their parents would have to be able to access their own information to comply with the law. In doing so would they then access details of children also involved?

"We would be concerned about the principle that pupils should be able to correct information held about them particularly in the school environment when accusations can be flung around."

There are strict data protection laws in place to protect the public and anyone storing personal data has to meet eight key requirements including the information being fairly processed, being kept accurate and up-to-date and processed securely.

A spokeswoman for the Information Commission, which monitors how information about the public is stored, said that any storage of data would have to comply with data protection laws. It would depend on what information is stored, how it is accessed and by whom as to whether the database would comply.

A spokesman for Vantage added that the system would use industry standard encryption techniques to ensure the website was secure. "Administrative users of Sentinel have individual user accounts with a username and password for each user. Without this no part of the system can be accessed. For security the usernames and passwords are encrypted within the database."
[/Q]

Massachusetts already has an electronoc reporting system that administrators must use to report to the Departmenet of Education incidents that happen in the course of a school day.

Does anyone have thoughts on this?
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Old 08-09-2005, 05:03 PM   #2
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It seems like it's happening in every aspect of life. I don't know, it seems like another one of those things that has good intentions but has the ability to be abused.
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Old 08-09-2005, 05:39 PM   #3
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Perhaps there are better ways to deal with bullying. I doubt the information entering the system is done on a consistent basis (with both over-reporting and under-reporting of bullying).
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Old 08-09-2005, 06:01 PM   #4
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I think the first step is to teach children tolerance and compassion right from the start. If you have the ability to put yourself in the other person's shoes you are less likely to want to hurt them.

On a related note. I live in a very small town but we had a case where a kid was being bullied every single day and none of the staff at the school did anything to help him. Eventually the kid had enough of being beat up so he took a knife to school and stabbed the bully the next time he tried to beat him up. The bully died...and the other kid went to juvenile detention. It was a very very sad case.
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Old 08-09-2005, 06:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by LoveTown
I think the first step is to teach children tolerance and compassion right from the start.
. Again I say, get parents to actually do their jobs and teach their children to show that sort of stuff towards their fellow human beings from the beginning, and these problems should start dwindling away.

I dunno. This seems like a bit of a far-fetched way to go about stopping this stuff.

Angela
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Old 08-09-2005, 06:11 PM   #6
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I think the first step is to teach children tolerance
That's slowly becoming a bad word here in America.
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Old 08-09-2005, 06:15 PM   #7
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For those who do not know it, I entered into an accelerated program, sponsored by the state to get my administrator's license. I completed the program in May, passing the teacher's test, and the writing test, officially making me a licensed principal in the state of MA.

Last month, I applied for, and was hired to become a vice-principal and I am embarking on a new career path. Bullying is a big issue in elementary schools. I am very concerned that it has to be stopped early, in order to make a difference down the road.
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Old 08-09-2005, 06:24 PM   #8
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Bullying is a big issue in elementary schools. I am very concerned that it has to be stopped early, in order to make a difference down the road.
You're right, it does need to be taken care of early on.

Congrats on getting through all the necessary stuff to get your job, by the way . You'll be a fine vice-principal .

Angela
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Old 08-10-2005, 10:00 AM   #9
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I'm a little unclear as to what sorts of scenarios these children's rights groups are worried about, and how these might differ from problems already encountered with "paper trail" systems.

I agree with the other posters about this approach seeming unlikely to address the causes of bullying. But I suppose if you subscribed to a 'Tough on Bullies' approach, where deterrence strategies (more intensive investigations, harsher punishments, aggressive prevention strategies based on separating certain kids, etc.) were seen as the only realistic way to reduce incidents, than perhaps this makes sense as a way to measure your progress, while also making data collection more efficient.

On second thought, even if you don't endorse such an approach, maybe this could still be a good way to measure your progress (i.e. incident reduction), imperfect though it obviously is.

I'm still suspicious about that "analysing trends and patterns" claim, though. Sounds too much like a euphemism for profiling.
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Old 08-18-2005, 06:03 AM   #10
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It's so sad (and tragic in this instance) that kids have to worried about being bullied even online, then again there are adults who do the same thing

I wonder how many parents exercise strict control over what their kids do online

Death by cyber-bully

By John Halligan | August 17, 2005

Massachusetts has taken an important step in forming the ''Safe Schools Initiative," a pilot program to prevent all forms of harassment and hate crimes in the state's schools, including online ''cyber-bullying." From my own family's personal experience, I know that as we get ready for the school year, we need to be aware of this new form of teenage harassment and take steps to prevent what can be its tragic consequences.

It's true that the Internet provides young people with a wealth of educational resources and enriching experiences that previous generations could not even imagine. But what are your children actually doing online? To whom are they talking? Are they chatting with friends? Or are they being stalked by predators? Or harassed by bullies? Are they playing inappropriate online games or reading inappropriate material for their age?

According to iSafe America, a nonprofit organization designed to promote Internet safety, 91 percent of kids 12 to 15 years of age use the Internet regularly. While 90 percent of parents think they know what their children are doing online, only 66 percent of the children actually tell their parents. In addition, while 92 percent of parents say they have Internet rules, only 65 percent of young people say their parents have set guidelines.

My wife and I thought we knew the risks of Internet use and thought we had done all that we could to protect our 13-year-old son, Ryan Halligan. But we were unaware that the difficulties of Ryan's middle school life had extended into the summer, then into the evenings when school started up again.

Two years ago, Ryan sat in the comfort of our Vermont home being humiliated online by peers from his school. Ryan discovered websites that promoted suicide as a solution for the pain he was feeling and met up with a peer online who encouraged his suicidal ideation. Ryan took his own life on Oct. 7, 2003.

This is a sobering story, but important to share. Now, my wife and I are doing all we can to ensure that parents and children know the risks of Internet use, combined with the challenges of adolescence.

What are the risks?

Kids who go online have access to inappropriate material, unwanted solicitation from online predators, and can be victims of cyber-bullies.

How can you protect your child? Keep the computer in a high-traffic area: This way you can keep tabs on what your child is doing while using the computer. Know who is on their buddy list: Does your child know each person on their list personally? Do you? Are you comfortable with whom they are associating with online?

Make sure your children keep their personal information private: They should never share passwords, personal information, or photographs online. They should never provide any information about themselves in their instant messaging/chat profile.

Learn the instant messaging lingo: Did you know ''POS" means ''parent over shoulder"? Ask your child: Which programs do you use for instant messaging and chatting? What is your screen name? What is in your profile? Who is on your buddy list? Have you shared your password with a friend? Have you ever posted your picture online? Have you ever been cyber-bullied or cyber-bullied others?

I think it's also helpful to define what bullying behavior is to your children. In my home state of Vermont, we recently passed a new ''bullying prevention law" that included a clear definition. Bullying means ''any overt act or combination of acts directed against a student by another student or group of students and which is intended to ridicule, humiliate, or intimidate the student." Cyber-bullying is bullying performed online, but its reach and potential impact can be far greater.

In Massachusetts, Aug. 30 is the deadline for schools to apply to be part of the state attorney general's ''Safe Schools Initiative." I congratulate the Commonwealth on launching this important partnership of government, education, and others. Taking precautionary measures can help to protect your child in ways you may never have imagined.

John Halligan is vice president of the Vermont chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
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Old 08-18-2005, 06:40 AM   #11
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We see bullying in here all the time.
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Old 08-18-2005, 06:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
We see bullying in here all the time.
Yes we do
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