We have a moral imperative to prevent bullying in our schools. To combat the problem, we have been working to assure that we have a positive, supportive climate and culture throughout the Pasco School district. We are taking a comprehensive, proactive approach to letting students, staff and families know that our schools are safe, and making it easier to report suspected bullying and harassment directly to school and district leaders via the district and school websites.
In the coming weeks, the Pasco School Board and staff will update our policies and the student code of conduct to ensure that district students are not subjected to hostile environments, sexual or gender-based harassment, sexual assault, or cyber harassment or bullying. To do so, we must start by educating students and staff about the definitions of bullying and the different types of harassment.
We will intensify our efforts to educate and train our community — from administrators to students — on what bullying is, its impact on victims and the schools as a whole, and why it is wrong. The district offers many supports and services to prevent and respond to bullying. We understand that we need a multifaceted approach to address the underpinnings of bullying, and to determine where and how much bullying is taking place.
In addition, the district has spear-headed the Together We Stand — Pasco Youth and Community Summit 2013, which will take place June 27 at Wesley Chapel High School Center for the Arts. This summit will involve strategic planning, networking, and information sharing to build resilience and reduce youth violence, including bullying. High school students, parents, educators, local government agencies and faith-based and community leaders will gather to address these issues with the goal of making Pasco County a place where students exist in a nonhostile environment and accept each other's differences.
Our desire is to put an end to bullying and harassment in our public schools. The education community cannot do this without the support and involvement of the greater Pasco County community. We must stand together to have any chance of eradicating bullying, harassment and violent behaviors. I promise that we will do our part to create civil and respectful school cultures where bullying is not tolerated and I hope I can count on all of you to do your part.
Kurt S. Browning is Pasco County Public Schools superintendent.