PHM schools working to combat bullying

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 10:49 PM EDT
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - Local school corporations are speaking with 16 News Now about ways they are combating bullying.

Our own Monica Murphy has been investigating the bullying problem in Michiana.

This all started back in March, when 12-year-old Rio Allred took her own life after being bullied multiple times at North Side Middle School in Elkhart.

On Friday, Monica sat down with the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation to find out new practices they are implementing to ensure all students feel safe.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and the corporation said this is an opportunity to assess where they have been and where they are going.

“By far, the most important thing we do to prevent bullying is make sure that we have a warm, loving, safe and inclusive environment for all of our students,” said School Board President, Chris Riley.

The corporation has 21 school counselors and seven school psychologists.

In fact, these psychologists are currently going through advanced training in behavioral analysis.

They also meet regularly with administrators to track behavioral issues to identify bullying situations.

“We’re also implementing a software system that is going to allow them to empirically track students who are academically at risk or behaviorally at risk because those are the students who would be mostly prone to commit acts of violence and acts of bullying,” said Riley.

“So it’s a program that’s nationally funded by the Department of Education, delivered at cost, very cheap, and it exists only so that schools can do best practices when it comes to behavior,” said Lead School Psychologist at the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation Mike Manis.

Interventionists will then work with students.

“We want your kids to have the best academic experience imaginable,” said Riley.

The corporation also has a district-level threat assessment team.

“And the purpose of that team is to monitor threats across the district, not just bullying, but suicidality or threats of violence...This is an issue we take very seriously; every single allegation, every single complaint, so please share that information with your child’s teacher, with the principal, so we can be aware,” said Manis.