DATA: 72 percent of Waterloo bullying incidents violate law - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

DATA: 72 percent of Waterloo bullying incidents violate law

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A new report released by the Iowa Department of Education is shedding some light on bullying in eastern Iowa schools.

KWWL reported Monday that Linn-Mar told the state it had 157 instances of bullying last school year. Only one of those violated state bullying laws. On the other hand, Waterloo reported 156 cases, but 113 of those violated the anti-bullying law. That's approximately 72 percent.

Waterloo Schools officials said they're not upset by the numbers, and don't think parents should be either. They said they think the data is skewed by more people reporting the crime.

Student Joanna Badaczewska said she sees bullying at West High School all the time.

"The majority of it is on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, or anything like that," Badaczewska said,

The junior said she has seen the bullying in the school drop since her freshman year.

Cora Turner is the Director of Student At Risk services. All instances of bullying and harassment go to her office.

"And at that time, I involve the principal or other individuals to try and get issues resolved," she said.

As for the 113 violations of state law in Waterloo Schools, Turner said that the punishment hinges on the offense. She said that could mean a suspension, a meeting with the parents, or even anger management.

"We want it to be known it's not going to be tolerated," Turner said.

She isn't surprised by the numbers, because she's the one who reported them to the Department of Education. She isn't worried by the increase, either.

"My goal is for you to tell," she said. "We want you to step out and tell. It's not a number to me. It's about an individual understanding they have a right to feel good about coming to our schools."

Turner said they follow up on every case that gets brought to their attention, and that that's what the Department of Education wants.

"The whole intent of this data collecting system was not just to place another requirement on schools or Department of Education," said Staci Hupp, a representative for the Department. "It was really to help the state and schools improve polices that address bullying."

To do this, the district set up a bully hotline about 3 years ago, according to Turner. She said this hotline has been very helpful, since it allows the victim to remain anonymous.

The Department of Education said they are running into some challenges with the bullying statistics, since it's a new way of collecting data.

They said they are trying to educate schools on how to better define bullying. They hope this will help improve the accuracy of the data.

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