Tulsa Public Schools To Battle Bullies By Encouraging Students To 'Talk About It'
By Ashli Sims, The News On 6
TULSA, OK – Tulsa Public Schools is trying to give a voice to those who suffer at the hands of bullies. The district is launching "Talk About It," a program that claims to neutralize school bullying.
Back in April, the News On 6 discovered Tulsa Public Schools bullying policy was pretty hollow. After four months of work, the district has a new taskforce and a new program to fight back against bullying.
One in six children are bullied.
"It was horrifying," Laura Atom said.
Laura Altom says her teenage daughter endured so much mental harassment it caused her physical pain.
"Eventually when she ended up in the emergency room our family did every test she could and she said this child is under stress," Altom said. "What is going on?"
What went on was the kind of bullying that affects thousands of kids every day. News On 6 reporter Ashli Sims asked Tulsa Public Schools what it was doing to curb bullying, four months ago.
"To be honest, at this point we've got a series of things that are going on throughout the district but nothing that has been coordinated to this point," Kevin Burr, TPS Assistant Superintendent, said at the time.
After the News On 6 story aired in April, Tulsa Public Schools came up with a taskforce of parents and administrators to come up with a plan to battle bullying.
"A big obstacle is plain ol' talking to each other," Tenna Whitsel, TPS School Support Services, said. "Getting kids to tell us what's going on."
The district found "Talk About It." Students can text or email a team of faculty members who can respond directly back to them with advice.
"They've gotta speak up," said Carter Myers, Talk About It. "We just want to be able to give them a means of meeting them where they are so they can speak up in the same form that they speak to each other so often."
With more than 400 schools online, the company says some report student concerns about bullying dropped by half after "Talk About It."
Laura Altom ended up pulling her daughter out of her high school for her health. She feels like TPS has to do more than just talk.
"Unless there is consequences for actions I don't think it's ever going to be enough," Altom said.
Tulsa Public Schools is also updating its policy against bullying. But some parents are upset with the current changes, because it doesn't include cyber-bullying: harassment through text message, Facebook or other social media.
The new policy has not been approved yet.