State Adopts Anti-Bullying Standards for Schools

State Adopts Anti-Bullying Standards for Schools

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Debbie Dujanovic reportingStepping up efforts to stop schoolyard violence. Tonight, a followup to an Eyewitness News Investigation.

Last February, our coverage on school yard violence sparked an outcry among parents. Now, the State's stepping in --setting new standards for schools.

For victims of bullying, victims like Toshia Bloomquist -- it's a sign that someone is finally listening.

Toshia Bloomquist/ Victim: "What bothered me is it took forever and no one cared. No one cared, my principal, no one. It took forever to just get one of my bullies suspended."

Bullied through junior high, Toshia came forward during our investigation on school yard violence in February.

Our undercover cameras caught countless disturbing incidents on Utah school playgrounds. The video, stories like hers, pushed the State Office of Education to step up anti-bully efforts.

Here's a look at the state's new plan: First, they're telling school staff what to look for -- hitting, teasing, intimidation, and insulting messages left on computers or voice mail.

They're mandating schools report each incident to the state -- filling out a form every time a child is bullied.

The state school system's never tracked bullying incidents, doesn't know how many Utah school children are hurt by bullies, or which schools have the biggest problem.

Safe Schools Coordinator Verne Larsen says that data is critical.

Verne Larsen/ State Office of Education: "Going in trying to prevent something, you're not sure how much is happening, where it's happening. It's a shotgun approach to how we're dealing with it."

The state wants schools to train staff, and playground aides, so bullying, violence isn't ignored. They want parents to report incidents to the school office. And school officials to offer the victim and the bully help.

Toshia Bloomquist/Victim: "It's about time that they do some stuff about it, especially principals. It's about time because what I went through wasn't necessary."

Not necessary, and now new hope that more will be done to stop bullies at school.

The State Board of Education has formally adopted the new standards. Schools are expected to make changes right away.

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