Beefed-Up Bully Policy: Survey results compel administration to tackle bullying problem, develop new programs

Bullying has always been a part of high school culture. And with 32 percent of students seeing it as a problem everyday, Principal Scott Bacon decided to make a few changes.
“My heart sank when I saw the percent,” Bacon said. “I want students to walk into this school and say, ‘Wow, this is a really different place’.”
In response to the survey, Bacon plans to meet in a classroom environment with random groups of 20-30 students to listen to their concerns and ideas.
He plans to meet with the students each quarter and get their feedback on how to put an end to bullying.
“The groups of students will be random and I want it to be a personal environment,” Bacon said. “Meeting with 20-30 should not be confrontational and I feel like I’ll be able to talk to a good amount of students.”
Students also agree that this will be an open setting to meet in.
“I think that is a really good idea,” junior Evan Woods said. “Students definitely will open up.”
Fifty-nine percent of the current juniors and seniors said they were never bullied.
In their exit survey, 96-97 percent of the class of 2009 said that they had never been bullied.
“We do the survey to treat students as adults and give them a voice,” Bacon said.
There is more to doing the survey than just giving students a voice.
“Blue Valley has been working with a network of four other high schools from Houston and Chicago to analyze the school climate,” Bacon said.
The program is called Twelve Under Twelve. The goal is to get 12 schools (four elementary, four middle and four high schools) all to 100 percent of students at proficiency in reading and math. Bacon said school climate was recently added to the program.
He visited the Houston area high schools last year. Teams from the other schools will be visiting BVHS in October. The other high schools will be here for about a day to see what it’s like at BV.
The teams will be talking to students, observing teachers and their methods and looking at our school culture.
“It’s neat to get an outside set of eyes to give criticism to our school,” Bacon said.
Teachers have also beefed-up their Zero Tolerance Policies. All teachers included a statement dealing with anti-bullying in their directives.
Teacher Azadeh Taghizadeh decided to do it a little bit differently.
“I try to talk to my students as adults, and set my expectations high so that no one gets left behind,” Taghizadeh said. “I think that the bullying we have here is friends making fun of friends and they won’t stand up for themselves, so they just take it.”
Her advice to all students is to be confident and involved.
“We need leaders to step up and tell the bullies ‘Look, you’re not cool or funny so just stop’,” she said. “Then students can look at each other as equals and not have a problem with bullying.”
Teachers have been asked to maintain a presence in the hallways during passing periods.
“The number one deterrent of bullying is (having an adult) be visible,” Bacon said.
by Sam Brennan.