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Bullying Gets the Boot in South Dakota Schools

South Dakota schools are required by law to have a bullying policy that defines the behavior and outlines procedure to report it. (geralt/Pixaby)
South Dakota schools are required by law to have a bullying policy that defines the behavior and outlines procedure to report it. (geralt/Pixaby)
October 21, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Bullying once was viewed as a childhood rite of passage, but now it is recognized as having lifelong implications for physical and mental health.

Since 2006, October has been designated National Bullying Prevention Month.

Mary McCorkle, president of the South Dakota Education Association, says some students adopt bullying behaviors they see and hear on television or in videos. And that can lead to incidents of intimidation on the playground or school bus.

McCorkle adds that when a student is afraid, he or she can't learn.

"Students who are bullied suffer from anxiety, they suffer from depression, social embarrassment and they try to avoid going to school because that's a source," she states.

In recent years, a series of bullying-related suicides in the U.S. and across the globe have drawn attention to the connection between bullying and suicide.

A study by Yale University found that victims of bullying are from two to nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims.

Not all children report bullying incidents to their parents, but signs of depression, including poor school performance, changes in appetite, sleep patterns, social withdrawal or sadness can be signs that a child is being targeted with unwanted, aggressive behavior.

McCorkle says most schools in South Dakota do training to create classrooms free of bullying, but it takes all personnel paying attention to create a safe environment.

"Whether they're the teachers in the classroom or food service, bus drivers, clerical, etc., we must be their champions,” she stresses. “If we don't provide a safe learning environment for them, they will not thrive."

McCorkle adds that the National Education Association makes materials available to schools to build awareness during National Bullying Prevention Month.

Most states, including South Dakota, have anti-bullying laws that also cover off-campus conduct committed through computers or electronic devices regardless of time or place.

Disclosure: South Dakota Education Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Education. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD