School Safety and Bullying
Every student has the right to feel safe in the classroom. The Office of Safe & Supportive Schools works to assist Tennessee schools in their efforts to provide safe and supportive learning environments for all. This includes fostering partnerships between schools and the communities they serve.
The office oversees a wide range of training and program development activities that address the challenges facing today’s highest-need, highest-risk students.
The Office of Safe & Supportive Schools also oversees several grant programs including:
- Safe Schools Act of 1998
- Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act
- Family Resource Centers
Bullying and harassment
Bullying and harassment are serious and persistent issues facing today’s students. Unchecked, they can lead to long-term academic and social problems. Bullying also has been linked to psychological trauma, mental health issues, substance use and suicide.
The state requires that every school district have a policy prohibiting bullying and harassment, as well as procedures for investigating reports of bullying and harassment.
Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. The imbalance of power may involve the use of physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity to control or harm others. This may include:
- Harassment – unwelcome conduct based on a protected class (race, national origin, color, sex, age, disability or religion) that is severe, pervasive or persistent and create a hostile environment.
- Cyber-bullying – bullying that takes place using electronic technology, such as cell phones, computers and tablets, as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat and websites.
Not all children who are bullied show the same warning signs. However, parents and caregivers should be aware of the following signs, according to www.stopbullying.gov:
- Unexplained injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics or jewelry
- Frequent headaches or stomachaches, feeling sick, or faking illness
- Changes in eating habits, such as suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves or talking about suicide
If you suspect that your child is being bullied, get help now!
KnowBullying is a free app that provides tools and resources, including conversation starters for parents, to prevent bullying and help children build resilience. The app is available for iOS and Android devices here.
Other questions regarding bullying and state policy may be directed to the Office of Safe & Supportive Schools at 615-741-3248.