Bullying/Harassment Changes in Schools

Bullying and Harassment have played a major role in the changes of the various practices that are seen within school systems in New York State. Roles of administrators and teachers have had to change because of the new DASA regulations and as well as other recently established mandated abuse reporting measures. The amount of professional hats that school staff have to wear is continually growing and evolving on a regular basis. Instead of focusing on the primary job of teaching students to a high degree, teachers and administrators are also having to take active steps in documenting and reporting incidents that involve bullying, harassment and abuse.

The new systems that have been put in place are all done for the right reasons; to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students. The problem becomes, is it too much to place on the current educational setup that schools have operated on for numerous years? With so much focus and attention from teachers and administrators in regards to bullying and harassment in school, practices that help strengthen teaching content seems to have gone by the wayside. Principals no longer seem to have enough time to help teachers grow in their instructional delivery and teachers do not seem to have enough time to do everything that is needed throughout the day.

Is it time for new components to be introduced into the school setting that would focus on taking proactive approaches to stop bullying and harassment, while still taking responsibility for handling student issues that arise? Maybe. One problem that continues to stop any type of progressive change in the educational setting is the lack of finances. Continual budget cuts have made all schools do more with less. Numerous changes have been imposed upon schools, all for the right reasons, but without the financial support to achieve success for both teaching and student safety.


4 responses to “Bullying/Harassment Changes in Schools

  1. Matt, I agree that budget cuts have certainly impacted school settings including behavior management systems. I think it forces educational leaders and teachers to be more creative about how they can do more with less. Larger class sizes with less support staff and a decrease in the amount of teachers we now have, certainly doesn’t help the bullying and harassment issues we experience in school settings. However, if the school culture is one that believes all students will have fair and equal access to education, budget restraints can not prevent students that right.

    Students can build an appreciation and tolerance for others when they have knowledge through exposure to different cultures, races, religions, genders, learning styles, etc. That exposes students to various types of people who differ from themselves. Administrators and teachers can expose such information by teaching character education, inviting guest speakers into the school environment, bring students on field trips, being selective about incorporating multicultural literature, and more. Implementing RTI strategies for academics and behavior support can also address bullying and harassment. Lastly, communicating school beliefs and values to parents regarding a zero tolerance policy for bullying and harassment can provide additional outside support for students.


  2. Here is a perspective from the organization level, as well as the school building level in respect to the DASA Coordinator.

    How does this new Federal Law affect school districts across the nation?
    All educators from all grade levels (Kindergarten to grade 12) are required to educate all students the values and morals of civility, citizenship and character. Teachers are also required to educate students about awareness and sensitivity to discrimination or harassment and civility in the relations of people of different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, religious practices, mental and physical abilities, sexual orientations, genders and sexes.

    Here are some other important points:

    • Requires the addition of the DASA statement to all Codes of Conduct.
    • Requires each district/building develop a process for documenting, investigating, and tracking bullying complaints
    • Requires each building to have at minimum a DASA coordinator (and if possible a coach) who report trends to the principal and district level DASA representation
    • Requires district level communication of DASA expectations to all stakeholder groups (including in the primary language of parents)
    Role of the DASA Coordinator

    In Syracuse City School District, each school building has a DASA (Dignity for All Students Act) coordinator. In order to become a coordinator, this person must be trained in the provisions of the Dignity Act and be thoroughly trained in methods to respond to handle human relations in the areas of race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practices, disability, sexual orientation, gender and sex. The coordinator needs to be appointed or approved by the Board or Education. Each school building selects a current employee to receive the training. Currently, there are no requirements to be filed for this position. Once the person has been trained, the school leader lets the school staff, students and parents who the coordinator is.
    The DASA coordinator makes sure that all staff and students are informed of DASA and all the policies, procedures and protocols in place in order to address issues of bullying and harassment. They provide staff with forms that students can fill out if they feel they are being target of bullying or harassment. They also keep data of what are the higher incidents and trends in order to address issues quickly and put in place interventions and supports for all the students involved. In addition, the DASA coordinator facilitates meetings and conferences with the parents or guardians of the student being bullied and the bully. The coordinator also reports to the district level director of discipline and pupil services the data collected in a monthly basis.


  3. Matt, you present some valuable insight on this topic. I wonder: as an educational administrator, how would you deal with instances of bullying that takes place on the school bus? And I wonder would that action be similar to or dissimilar from our German counterparts? Thank you!


    • RJ-

      Whenever you have common area issues, such as incidents on the bus, the most important thing an administrator can do is to conduct interviews with students/staff that were near the incident. Documentation is important before you address the issue. The one thing that I find very helpful with the majority of the school buses that we use in the United States is that they are equipped with video recording technology. That technology becomes very useful in regards to documentation of the bullying incident.


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