Linn-Mar reports high number of bullying incidents, administrato - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Linn-Mar reports high number of bullying incidents, administrators call it "good news"

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Kids here in Iowa are being bullied. New data from the Iowa Department of Education shows there were more than 5,000 bullying incidents in the state last school year and those are just the cases that were reported.

The Linn-Mar Community School District saw 157 bullying incidents last year, the third highest in the state. Only two districts saw more...West Des Moines with 222 and Bettendorf with 282.

Linn-Mar administrators tell us it's because the district has been tracking bullying for almost a decade.They say the high number of incidents is a good thing because it means teachers and support staff are paying attention.

"Our data collection is really good," said Katie Mulholland, Linn-Mar Superintendent. "We're going to tend to pick up more sophisticated incidents of bullying rather than the stereotype of the big kid picking up the little kid on the playground."

The district has been using the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program since 2004, put in place after two students committed suicide. Administrators say the district's commitment to bullying means they may be seeing problems others wouldn't notice.

"It could be kids not playing with a kid on the playground, something like that, which, again, at first glance you wouldn't think anything of it until someone brought it to your attention," said Mulholland

Only one of the district's 157 bullying incidents violated state law.

According to the state's new data, a situation violates law if conduct:

  1. Placed the student in reasonable fear of harm
  2. Had a detrimental effect on student's physical or mental health
  3. Interfered with the student's academic performance 
  4. Interfered with a student's ability to participate in school activities

If parents fear those issues are happening in Linn-Mar schools they should contact administrators.

"If we're not after it and it's happening, we want to know," said Mil Mulholland

Any districts in Iowa had lower incidents of bullying but much higher numbers of cases violating state law.

The Waterloo School District had the fourth highest number of incidents at 156 and 113 violated state law.

The state is using a new reporting system data can't be compared to previous years. 

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