Eastern Iowa school districts aim to prevent bullying - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eastern Iowa school districts aim to prevent bullying

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DIKE (KWWL) -

Tuesday more than one thousand educators, parents, and students met in Des Moines for Iowa's first Bullying Prevention Summit. They're discussing the growing number of bullying incidents in our schools -- how to handle a problem, and how to prevent them in the future.

The latest Iowa Youth Survey, which came out last year, suggests half of Iowa's students have been bullied in the last 30 days. It's something with which students at Dike-New Hartford (DNH) High School are familiar.

Junior Tessa Dall knows first-hand bullying happens in her school's hallways and on social media.

"You can see stuff on twitter or Facebook and people will say mean words or call people names," said Dall.

Sophomore Maddie Demro sees it among her classmates as well. That's why they both joined the newly formed DNH Student Leadership Team.

"I think it's a really great honor to be a part of it," said Demro.

When a new kid joins the district, one of the student leaders steps up to make them feel at home. It's just one way the district is working to prevent, and deal with bullying in its schools.

"We can't say it doesn't happen. It does. But I think we have some things in place to try to help it, try to deal with it fairly quickly when we find out about it," said DNH Principal Irv Laube.

DNH educators also developed an online reporting system. They see an incident, they write it up, and Laube is alerted via email.

"We'll take that incident and call in the kids if necessary, do a little bit more investigating. But the bigger thing is to see if there's a pattern. And this helps us -- if one kid gets his books knocked out of his hands first hour, and a teacher says "stop that." But it's also happening third, fourth, and fifth. We can look for patterns that way."

But Laube realizes, teachers can only do so much. It's really up to students to tell their peers bullying will not be tolerated in their school.

"It can be a really scary thing to do because you don't know how others are going to react to you, and of course you worry about what's going to happen," said Demro. "But you have to know in your gut that it's the right thing to do."

There's another important aspect to the Student Leadership Team. As Demro explained, the high school is connected with Dike's elementary school. That's why she believes it's crucial to set a good example for the younger kids, and prevent any of them from becoming bullies as they grow up.

At Tuesday's summit, the governor announced a new resource for students or adults who are being bullied. YourLifeIowa.org offers information and support, including a 24-hour help hotline.

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