Proactive school policies on bullying, suicide

A state law to help schools identify bullying and signs of potential suicide is a proactive policy already practiced by a number of districts.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed a measure last week to permit educators to apply two hours of training in youth suicide prevention toward their professional development requirements. The bill also adds cyber-bullying to Missouri’s existing anti-bullying laws.

We are wary of any new mandates that add non-instructional duties to over-burdened teachers, but this law doesn’t do that.

The law is designed to benefit students by including suicide prevention training among the options teachers may select to satisfy existing continuing education requirements.

Suicide is an irrevocable act that may be prevented if teachers are trained to spot the warning signs and arrange for professionals to intercede.

Larry Linthacum, superintendent of Jefferson City Public Schools, said both staff and students are trained to identify bullying behavior and signs of potential suicide.

He said the state law is “consistent with things we’ve been talking about, making sure we’re engaging with kids and connecting with kids, and when we do that, we’ll be more conscious and aware if something is out of the ordinary with a student.”

Linthacum said any modifications made by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Missouri School Boards Association will be reviewed to make the district’s policies consistent and current.

Student behavior will be a focal point in the coming year at the local public schools. After a comprehensive survey, Linthacum said, personnel and resources will emphasize consistent policies among all district schools regarding behavior, disruptions and discipline.

Fears and resentments caused by bullying, as well as classroom disruptions and distractions, all pollute the learning environment in our schools.

The new state law and the district’s policies show policy-makers and educators understand. Every effort must be made to make the classroom a safe and welcoming place where students are focused on learning.

Jefferson City News-Tribune

Sedalia Democrat

Jefferson City News-Tribune

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