The Iowa Department of Education is directing school districts in the state to be more specific on reporting bullying incidents in the schools. The effort now will have principals reporting incidents in one of 17 non-discrimination categories, examples of which are bullying as a result of sexual orientation, gender or race.
Matt Tullis, equity director with the Marshalltown Community School District, said measures in place to report bullying were vague in the past.
"It sounds like it's been tightened up," Tullis said. "We have never been that specific in the past."
The principals report the incidents through a web-based program and the administrators like Tullis can access the results and send them to the state.
Tullis said more details about the program will be discussed in the future and the district plans to do what is asked of it by the state. It's unclear when this program will officially begin.
"It's all in its infancy," Tullis said. "We're just kind of learning about it."
Governor announces bullying prevention video contest
Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Monday that they are inviting all Iowa middle schools and high schools to submit a video about what their school is doing to prevent bullying and what more might be done, prior to the Governor's Bullying Prevention Summit, which will be held Nov. 27 at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines.
They noted that each video should reflect the theme of "Preventing Bullying in Your School and Beyond." The audience for the video will include students, teachers, school administrators, parents and community leaders.
Branstad says students should use this as an opportunity to tell your school's story about how bullying is being stopped, what more might be done, and how to better engage the community as a whole in bullying prevention efforts.
Videos that meet all contest guidelines will be posted to Governor Branstad's YouTube channel, with the public invited to choose their favorite between Nov. 12 and Nov. 21. More information and guidelines may be found at https://preventbullying.iowa.gov.
The top vote-getter will receive a $500 prize to be used for bullying prevention efforts at their school, along with a visit by the governor and lieutenant governor for an all-school assembly. The video contest winner will be announced at bullying prevention summit
Tullis said he is in favor of a bullying reporting system of this type that gives more details on the groups being bullied.
"This is helpful in that it gives a clearer picture of what to focus on," he said.
Tullis said this system will not be able to help with one of the problems in bullying - the lack of reporting the incidents.
"The data is only as good as what is reported," Tullis said.
This effort comes on the heels of the launch of Marshalltown's anti-bullying initiative, Not In Our Town.
Last month hundreds of people gathered at the Marshall County Courthouse to show their support of the movement.