Everett schools to track bullying and harassment

  • By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, July 5, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

EVERETT — A new system to track intimidation, bullying and harassment of students is being launched this fall by the Everett School District.

A survey conducted last year found elementary, middle and high school students reporting problems such as sexual jokes or comments that made them feel uncomfortable and being intimidated because of their sexual orientation or religion.

The goal of the new program is “to create greater awareness and increased reporting of bullying, harassment and intimidation,” said Becky Ballbach, who oversees the Everett School District’s counseling program.

State laws to protect students from harassment and bullying date back to 2002. But with little progress reported on the issue, lawmakers are requiring schools to take action by Aug. 1.

The steps include adopting new policies on bullying and harassment, posting the policies on the state Superintendent of Public Instruction‘s website and designating one person in each school district as the contact for bullying and harassment complaints.

Reports of bullying and harassment initially will still be dealt with at the student’s school, Ballbach said. “If it continues to be persistent and severe, that’s when this new complaint process kicks in.”

The school district has set timelines for responding to the complaints and providing greater protection to students, Ballbach said.

Once a school receives a written report outlining an alleged problem with harassment, bullying or intimidation, families will be notified within two days, she said.

The school’s investigation must be completed within five school days. Two days after the investigation is complete, parents of the student who made the complaint as well as the parents of the student aggressor will be notified of the results.

Students who violate the policy may be disciplined, referred to counseling, or, if serious enough, the cases may be referred to local police.

Reports from each school in the district will be reviewed by one administrator, to better monitor the type and number of problems that occur.

Jokes and comments about a student’s sexual orientation or religion were just some of the harassment and bullying problems reported by Everett students last year as part of the statewide Healthy Youth Survey.

Another common complaint was use of cell phones and computers used to bully and harass other students. Some 13.4 percent of tenth graders said they had encountered similar problems in the month preceding the survey.

The school district bans cyber bullying while students are on school grounds, said Mary Waggoner, school district spokeswoman.

The problem most frequently occurs during off-school hours, she said, but the impact can spill over into the school, she said.

Some students as young as nine or 10 years old have Facebook accounts, even though Facebook’s policy is that no one younger than 13 can sign up, she said.

“It is clear from some of those youngsters’ pages that they are not being helped to understand the boundaries of their own behavior or respectful treatment of others,” she said.

Some schools took action even prior to the state deadline.

Elizabeth Nunes, assistant principal at Gateway Middle School, said she was frustrated by how common the problems of bullying and harassment were, despite frequent reminders that it was inappropriate.

“We weren’t putting much of a dent in it,” she said. “Every year it was the same stuff.”

That led to a new program. Last November, 10 seventh grade girls started meeting during lunch.

“One of the most prevalent things we see is the ‘mean girls’ syndrome, she said. “By seventh grade, they’ve made their friendships and cliques. That’s where the cruel behavior goes on.”

Girls in the group had been victims or bystanders to bullying, or participated in the harassment themselves, she said. They talked of the emotional impact caused by harassment and bullying.

One parent talked to the group about her own middle school experiences, telling the girls that even 30 years later she could remember the hurt caused by her classmates’ taunts.

Word of the group’s work spread. Some middle school boys asked if they could attend, too.

Midway through the 2010-11 school year, suspensions for harassment and bullying were reduced by 40 percent over the previous year, Nunes said.

“What I’ve realized is the biggest bang for the buck is working with bystanders,” those, who by their silence allow bullying and harassment to occur, she said. It turns out that involvement of bystanders can also bring such behavior to a halt.

“We won’t change all the bullying behavior,” Nunes said. “What we can change… is getting students to simply ask the question, “Why are you doing that? What did they do to you? It’s powerful.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

1 pedestrian dead after car crash on I-5 south of Marysville

Around 5 p.m., a car crashed into a pedestrian along I-5. Investigators believed a man had parked on the shoulder to refuel.

FILE - A person walks near the Legislative Building, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington's redistricting commission failed to meet its deadline and on Tuesday, Nov. 16, kicked the job of creating new political maps to the state Supreme Court. The bipartisan commission had a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday to approve new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts following the 2020 census. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Do Snohomish County lawmakers want a 2020 presidential rematch?

The Herald contacted seven Republican legislators representing parts of Snohomish County about their primary choice. Five did not respond.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

Photo provided by 
Economic Alliance
Economic Alliance presented one of the Washington Rising Stem Awards to Katie Larios, a senior at Mountlake Terrace High School.
Mountlake Terrace High School senior wins state STEM award

Katie Larios was honored at an Economic Alliance gathering: “A champion for other young women of color in STEM.”

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

Firefighters respond to a report of a smoke alarm going off in the 100 block of West Main Street in Monroe on Monday morning. Fire officials confirmed the fire was coming from living quarters above Good Brewing Co. (Provided by Snohomish County Regional Fire and Rescue).
Fire damages apartment above Monroe brewery

Good Brewing Co. on West Main Street was listed as permanently closed Monday.

Tom Ceurvorst picks up his food order at Big Chicken on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Free ice cream Wednesday for Shaq’s birthday at Big Chicken in Mukilteo

Sign a card for the NBA Hall of Famer and restaurant founder. Shaquille O’Neal turns 52 on March 6.

A table setting inside the Grouchy Chef on Sunday, March 3, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington.(Annie Barker / The Herald)
Mukilteo’s one-of-a-kind Grouchy Chef is hanging up his apron

Takayuki Masumoto, “who absolutely brooks no nonsense from his patrons,” is looking for a buyer. Name not included.

Flowers for slain trooper Chris Gadd begin to collect outside Washington State Patrol District 7 Headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Police: Lynnwood man consumed cannabis, beer before crash into trooper

Trooper Chris Gadd, 27, was stopped along I-5 when he was hit and killed early Saturday. Troopers suspect Raul Benitez Santana was impaired.

Madi Humphries, 9, Rose Austin, 13, and Eirene Ritting, 8, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No grades, no teachers: Inside a Bothell school run by student vote

Each day at The Clearwater School, 60 students choose their own lessons. It’s one vote per person, whether you’re staff or student.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.