Waco schools meet bullies head on

By Sobia Siddiqui

Schools are meant to educate, but according to the Health Resources and Services Administration, they are also the most common setting for bullying.

Waco Independent School District follows Texas’ bullying policy to address any problems.

“The district takes a very firm stance on bullying,” Sharon Hetherington, the coordinator of college and career readiness department at Waco ISD, said.

Waco ISD’s policies for bullying and discrimination are revised and corrected as needed, with updates made as currently as November 2010.

Students are taught what bullying is and the consequences bullies will face under school policies.

“Elementary counselors, they go to the classrooms and they deal with it one-on-one,” Hetherington said. “They give group presentations about bullying and then if there is an incident, it’s handled with the principal.”

Hetherington said counselors and teachers are trained to keep an eye out for bullying in the halls. If bullying does occur, teachers stop the incident and report to counselors right away.

After reporting to the counselor, the teachers report to principals and parents.

Once all parties involved have been questioned, counselors work with the students and parents to come up with a solution.

At University High School, outside efforts are being made to prevent bullying.

“We have an after-school program through Communities in Schools. … They address bullying as well,” Maria Grmela, University High School counselor, said.

Grmela said there is less of a bullying issue at University High School than other schools because a majority of the students have been friends with each other from a very young age through University Middle School.

“Our student body is pretty empathetic,” Grmela said. Students have reported other students being bullied to their counselors and teachers, Grmela said.

“Any and all instances where we feel there is bullying, we take all of those very seriously,” Grmela said. “We try to get an overall picture of what is going on. We hear the students out.”