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LPS addresses bullying at meeting

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Lawton Public School officials say they want parents to know that Facebook and other forms of social media are not the way to solve bullying problems at school.

District officials, Parent Teacher Association leaders and principals met to discuss that very topic. Bullying was added to the agenda of a regular meeting in reaction to accusations that were made online by parents following a fight that happened near Eisenhower Middle School last week.

Based on reports of bullying to schools district-wide, there have been 101 incidents reported so far this school year. Only three of those students were repeat offenders.

But parents say when it happens to your student it can really hit home.

"You're angry at the situation and you're upset, and at the same time you are hurt because your child is hurt," said district PTA president Erica Mendez.

Mendez says during this school year, one of her children, who is in middle school, was bullied and she had to step in.

"I'll contact your counselor and let them know what is going on and they take care of it. I haven't had any issue not feeling comfortable going to his school or his teachers or his principals," Mendez said.

At the meeting, principals presented problems they face with bullying in their schools. They said tell your children to fight back at school isn’t the answer. They also presented ways to keep students from bullying one another, such as assigning students to sit in different places during lunch.

Lawton Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Deighan says he attended 15 schools before he graduated high school, so he knows first-hand what it is like to be bullied.

"About one-half of one percent of our students of our 15,000 students are impacted by bullying, but for that small percentage it's a big deal and we take it extremely seriously. We don't want anybody to take it lightly," Deighan said.

Deighan says the main thing he wants parents and guardians to know is if they think that their child is being bullied, the first thing they should do is contact the principal of their child's school.

"We know the district is working hard. We know there are a lot of good programs. Again we are encouraging our PTA and our principals to reach out and make sure parents know how to address it and make sure students know who to talk to," Deighan said.

The School Bullying Protection Act was passed signed into law in Oklahoma in 2013. It requires all public schools to react to and document all bullying accusations and incidents.

Over the last year, Eisenhower Middle School has been able to cut down their bullying incidents by two-thirds. They credit a number of anti-bullying programs, including "#notinournest," for helping to make the positive change.

From August through January, there 101 bullying incidents in elementary, middle and high schools combined. In contrast, the August to January time frame for the 2012-2013 school year saw 196 bullying incidents.

Elementary schools have had 29 instances of bullying this school year, and middle schools and high schools have had 36 each.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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