By Yessenia Anderson
MEDFORD, Ore. – On July 1st, Oregon added six new state laws to its list of regulations. One of them protects students from harassment at school and in cyber space.
At the Medford School District office, administrators began making changes to their policy handbook a year ago. As social media emerged, the Medford School District began adding a web component in the early 2000’s to its policies.
“It’s more challenging for us because it’s many times something that happened on the weekend or in the evening or somebody on Facebook,” explains Medford School District Superintendent, Dr. Phil Long.
While the bullying might happen outside the classroom, new policies include training educators to become more sensitive to what begins affecting learning.
“Changes in behavior of children, and also to try and cultivate relationships for when kids are having a tough time, or some harassment suddenly arises that they will come and talk with the adult,” Dr. Long says.
But the focus isn’t always on the bully; officials say it’s important to keep an eye on the victim of that offense.
“So that if we see a pattern occurring with the student, there’s probably some different issues that we probably want to make sure that we help them with, too,” say Dr. Long.
Up to 1,700 students can attend just one high school, a size of some small cities; that quantity calls for a higher authority – resource officers.
“To identify it, number two is to prove what you have and number three is that there is some type of consequence for it,” states Medford Police Lieutenant Mike Budreau.
Four resource officers are divided amongst Medford’s elementary and high schools.
“What we’re also concerned about with this cyber bullying is that it could be more likely to invoke some type of physical confrontation,” says Lt. Budreau.
All officers have Facebook pages themselves, helping in the regulation of that bullying. More importantly, school officials say the pages have served as a safe zone to report harassment.
“We have moved kids to different classrooms and even in some cases to different schools to take care of issues,” Dr. Phil Long says.
Students can also face serious charges if the bullying involves a person’s sexual orientation, race, color, religion, disability or national origin.