Sticks and Stones

Tahomas anti-bullying effort falls short.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






In the grand Tahoma High School a demon is hiding inside the walls, it goes through the hallway and classrooms. It is a teacher’s worst fear and students are constantly trying to push it away,that demon is mental health complications due to verbal bullying.

After talking with former counselor and current disciplinary/office administrator Mike Hansen. I got a look into the strengths and weaknesses of the schools anti-bullying and harassment campaign.

 

Let’s start off with the hard facts, a student who is mentally abusing someone goes through five punishments until they get suspended. Someone who throws a punch immediately gets suspended, according to the school’s progressive discipline chart.

 

“Bullying is treating somebody in a way that diminishes what they think of themselves or who they feel they are,” said Hansen, “it has both physical and mental aspects.”

Tahoma high school finds that bullying and harassment is underreported because it’s “Not a big deal” to students, Hansen says. “Mental health is sort of a hidden demon we don’t talk about,”Hansen admits.

 

When a student is harassed for a long period of time they are supposed to fill out a harassment intimidation and bullying form or H.I.B. but in order to find one of these forms a student must navigate multiple websites none of which are easily accessible from the high schools website.

Then comes the schools guidelines,Teachers can read them but to a parent or student they might look ill-defined considering that aggressive behavior,fighting ,and harassment, intimidation and bullying, are all separate disciplinary categories. Especially considering they don’t clearly state what separates the categories. Is verbal abuse aggressive behavior or is it harassment.

 The discipline chart for tahoma high school. Courtesy of tahoma high school handbook.

The staff has been trying their best since last year’s tribulations. They now have qualified mental health professionals that you can get recommended, because as hard as counselors try they can only do so much.

 

The staff has also been taught to notice if a student is acting withdrawn or depressed. They have greatly increased their armory to fight this demon but still have a long way to go before they can fully help all the students by themselves.