Ascension Schools implement anti-bullying campaign

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Creating a safe and non-threatening environment for optimal student learning is at the center of a new anti-bullying initiative underway in Ascension Parish Public Schools.

"Recognize Bullying and Report it: Step Up & Stop It!" is the focus of the new awareness program now being implemented at campuses across the district. The program has been underway since the beginning of the school year and includes intensive training for teachers and staff members, including bus drivers and support personnel.

"We want everyone, especially our parents and students, to know that anyone can come and report bullying, and when they do, we have procedures in place to investigate and to stop it," Superintendent Patrice Pujol said.

"We believe bullying is about victimization and not conflict," Pujol added. "Our intent is to explain what bullying is so students and adults recognize it early. We are committed to creating cultures and climates of safety that are essential to the prevention of violence in our schools."

"We are telling our students to 'Talk to a Friend. Tell an Adult.' Together, we can stop bullying," she said.

Pujol said the district also has partnered with Campus Crime Stoppers to give persons three ways to make anonymous reports: 1) Call 344-STOP; 2) Text cs225 plus a message to CRIMES (274637); or 3) Visit www.crimestoppersbr.com and click on the anonymous tip screen.

District Coordinator of Student Services Linda Lamendola said the school system is enhancing its anti-bullying educational measures and intends to be a leader in anti-bullying education and prevention.

Louisiana's new Tesa Middlebrook Anti-bulling Act goes into effect in January 2013. Mandated by the 2012 Louisiana Legislature, it directs school districts to adopt and maintain a uniform policy that calls for ongoing anti-bullying measures that are integrated with a school's curriculum, discipline policies and other violence prevention efforts. It charges school districts with defining bullying behavior, training staff, notifying parents, reporting, investigating, preventing and creating overall awareness of the issue.