U.S. Dept. of Education tells schools to crack down on bullying

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A letter from the Secretary of Education arrived at schools across the country on Tuesday. It addresses bullying and reminds schools that they must have policies in place to protect their students. It also says some bullying violates federal law.

In Charleston County, they've had a policy in place for six years. Prevention and intervention specialist Bob Stevens says bullying has been around forever, but in the past few years its changed.

"Bullying has grown in a lot of ways obviously we didn't have the technology in the past," said Stevens. "The Internet, the texting, the cyber-bullying we hear of now."

It's changed in gender specific ways as well. "The bullying the girls do now is very different than years go it's much more physical more like what the boys do," said Stevens.

He says they proactively address these changes, with training for teachers and students.

Their main challenge is the fact that the district is so large and has so many facilities.

"Bullying is a crime of opportunity so what our schools need to do is a good job making sure they actively supervise students at all times in the stairways, on the yard," said Stevens.

Stevens says the federal letter to school districts about bullying didn't change any rules but did serve as a strong reminder.

CCSD even has a policy for sexual harassment, dealing with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.

"Charleston County School District is one of the first districts in the state to have in its policies, in its code of conduct, prohibiting that kind of harassment or bullying with sexual identity," said Stevens.

He says their main goal is to keep kids safe.

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