Bullying remains a serious problem in Los Angeles schools
Add fighting bullying to the long list of priorities for which the nation’s second-largest school system has good intentions but sluggish follow-through.
One in 5 Los Angeles high school students and 1 in 4 elementary students said they had been bullied last school year, according to a survey conducted as part of a newly released internal audit.
As for efforts to curb bullying, at one campus, the person in charge of handling bullying complaints was “not aware that she was appointed for this role,” the report says.
And although schools were supposed to keep bullying complaint logs, at nearly every campus the audit examined they were either not in use or were not up to date.
Although the extent of bullying found by the L.A. Unified’s Office of Inspector General is not necessarily out of line with national figures, the audit suggests that students are getting less help than they should.
“Most teachers and staff did not receive high quality training on bullying prevention on an annual basis,” the report says. Schools try to address bullying but fall short, to varying degrees.
In addition, the district, according to the audit, has fewer staff members overseeing anti-bullying efforts than other school systems with similar goals.
Part of the problem is a lack of clarity about what to do. Some of the report consists of auditors and administrators disputing or trying to agree on the best approaches. The district conceded the need for better training.
Teaching has become increasingly complicated, with instructors already required, among other things, to get annual training to recognize and report sexual misconduct, to deliver specialized instruction to students learning English, and to stay up to date on academic goals, teaching methods and technology.
But curbing bullying also is important, said Ron Avi Astor, a professor at USC’s schools of social work and education.
“Part of a school’s purpose is to create A-plus human beings, who get along and speak to each other in respectful ways,” said Astor, who has analyzed and conducted research on bullying around the world. “If you are able to create a school that makes kids happy, where there’s a good school climate, it not only becomes fertile ground for creating civic, democratic and communal values but also for strong academic gains.”
Anonymous student surveys, Astor said, offer the most reliable bullying data, and should be conducted at every school annually. If L.A. Unified made this happen, it could track progress and determine which schools are models and which ones need help.
So far, L.A. Unified has not taken this step, even though the school system has long considered itself a groundbreaker in addressing the social and emotional challenges of Bullying remains a serious problem in Los Angeles schools - LA Times: