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New Law Requires Schools to Report Bullying

By Mallory Cooke
By mcooke@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn.--A new policy requires schools to report and and investigate all bullying complaints.

“Bullying is anything that creates a climate where a student has fear or cannot feel safe in the environment, or some kind of intimidation,” said Dr. Portia Hegmon, Jackson-Madison County Schools Student Services Supervisor.

Hegmon says a new state law requires districts to investigate all bullying incidents and send their findings to the state. “We do everything that we can to protect the victim,” she said.

Students can experience emotional, physical, or cyber bullying. The district says offenders are punished based on the severity. “In most instances it's something that can be resolved once adults get involved with this,” said Will Beyer, a crisis counselor.

Beyer works with bullies and victims in the Jackson-Madison County School System. Bullying can take an emotional toll on students.

“A child could be engaging in cutting for example or potentially making suicidal threats or threats of retaliation,” Beyer said.

The district encourages parents and students to report bullying. “All perceived incidents of bullying are not bullying and it's best to report it, so we can investigate it,” said Hegmon.

Last year Hegmon confirms Jackson-Madison County Schools reported 49 bullying incidents to the state. So far this school year she says they have not had any.

Jackson-Madison County Schools put the bullying policy in the student handbook. If there is an incident, a student can be suspended or sent to an alternative learning center.