Pine Belt School officials work to prevent bullying

Pine Belt School officials work to prevent bullying

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Many students are back in school across the Pine Belt, and something they may have to deal with is bullying.

Director of Student Services for Lamar County schools Wayne Folkes said they're being proactive in dealing with this growing problem.

"Last year we began to go to each of the school sites, talk with each faculty, address it. We revised our bullying policy," Folkes explained.

Folkes said most of their bullying cases were from their middle schools.

"We had 136 confirmed bullying reports. We're seeing that's it more of the middle school age students reporting of bullying than others," Folkes said.

Social Worker Amanda Heitmuller said she's not surprised by that statistic.

"It's the pre-pubescent years where children are going through a lot of different changes. It's the highest percentage of low self esteem in that age bracket," Heitmuller added.

Cyberbullying is another way students are being bullied, so Lamar County school officials have a new texting system to help students report it.

"We've started a new program this year called tip text, and we they see that it's anonymous and they can let us know through texting that they're some bullying issues occurring," Folkes explained.

Heitmuller said a change in behavior is a critical warning sign of a child that's being bullied.

"I have had kids that have attempted suicide who have been bullied. If you start seeing your child withdraw, definitely a regular monitoring of the cell phone needs to happen," Heitmuller added.