Bully expert says schools lack bullying prevention programs

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Parents are concerned about an issue affecting their children....bullying. Some Pine Belt parents say their child's school is doing very little, if anything, to solve the problem.

University of Southern Mississippi Associate Professor of Education in the Department of Curriculum Instruction and Special Education, Hani Morgan, says he has studied bullying for years, has seen bullying worsen in intensity and numbers.

"After I started doing the research, more and more cases related to bullying came up," said Morgan.

Morgan says there isn't a definite answer as to why a child turns in to a bully.

"One of the main reasons that children bully is because they see a lot of violent behavior. It can be in the media or it can be at home," said Morgan.

In Morgan's research, he found attention at home can play a huge role in the creation of a bully.

"There are many students who come from one headed family homes, and they are not getting the attention that they use to get in previous years. There are more one headed families today than every before," said Morgan.

Hani says the lack of a caring environment at home can manifest bullies where a child spends most of their time...at school. Schools are where Morgan says bully prevention is lacking.

"They need to teach students that bullying is wrong and very often that doesn't occur, because teachers are under a tremendous amount of pressure to have students do well on standardized testing that they very often forget to do that," said Morgan.

Morgan explained there are several steps teachers can take to educate students on bullying, and to help school administrators prevent it. Hattiesburg Public School District's Behavioral Specialist Anita Knott says the district has those steps in place for every grade.

"Part of our drama team, they put on a skit to show what bullying is, and they make the students more aware of what the signs and symptoms of bullying are," said Knott.

Knott added the teachers and administration are instructed on the signs of a bully and a victim by a more official authority.

"We have our counselors that are equipped with bullying prevention strategies and techniques," said Knott.

Knott says the schools within the district hold assemblies on bullying prevention, and when there are incidents of bullying Knott says they have a partnership with South Mississippi Rural Health Initiative.

"We have a counselor that comes and does a bullying counseling. She counselors those that have been accused of being the bully," said Knott.

For Morgan, all of the programs HPSD has in place for bullying education and prevention are those that every school needs. If not, Morgan says bullying in secret would snowball and the school would remain unaware, and parents would hear complaints from their child after it's too late.

If you would like to know more about Hattiesburg Public School Districts Bullying Prevention and Education programs contact Anita Knott at 601-544-0811

For more information on Hani Morgan's research click here: http://www.usm.edu/elementary-special-technology-education/faculty/hani-morgan-edd

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