Parents and volunteers must follow school policies on anti-bullying
Now that classes are in full swing parents may be thinking about putting some time in at their child's school.
But before anyone can volunteer, they'll have to be schooled on one of the biggest issues facing children today.
Beginning this year, there are new policies that even parents have to follow with regards to anti-bullying.
Most schools do background checks for volunteers and staff. Now everyone who works with a child at school will also undergo anti-bullying training at schools in Indiana.
It could be an online tutorial, which is what Carmel schools utilize.
Hamilton Southeastern schools require a webinar for their parent volunteers and staff.
Warren Township requires a paper tutorial.
Governor Mike Pence signed new anti-bully legislation into law in the Spring. It requires schools to have specific anti-bully policies. Those schools are just now getting those policies implemented.
The goal, according to those who helped draft the legislation, is to work toward prevention as well as punishment.
"Child abuse is a cycle," said child advocate Tracie Wells. "If we can get into homes when children are younger and identify problems that are perhaps triggering children to come to school and behave in a bullying manner, we can get to those parents and train them and make them aware of different behaviors, raise the level of education, we can stop the cycle of domestic violence and bullying."
According to the Department of Education, which earlier this month released for the first time bullying reports, more than 9000 bullying incidents were reported by Indiana's public schools last year.
Of those, 44 percent were verbal and 21 percent were physical.
Wells says while those numbers seem high, they will drop as more people understand what triggers bullying and how it's defined.
"It's not the same as conflict-resolution or arguments between kids," Wells said. "Bullying is an ongoing perceived or real balance of power. It has real serious psychological and emotional effects to it,' explains Wells.
Schools have until October to get their bullying training in place.