Debbie Dujanovic ReportingAn Eyewitness News Investigation recently showed what happens on school playgrounds during recess. You demanded change. Now Debbie Dujanovic brings us an Eyewitness News follow-up investigation on what school leaders are doing.
State School leaders are listening. They saw the video, they heard from you, now they'll take action. They'll analyze bully-prevention programs, how schools enforce rules, and search for ways to make schools safer.
Fighting, kicking, incidents we caught on tape at nine elementary schools, all during recess. Playground supervisors chatting while troubling behavior continues. At some schools there were no adults in sight. After seeing the video you wanted schools to do more. We took your complaints to the people who run Utah's public schools. Your responses are prompting school leaders to create a new task force. The goal: make schools safer.
Verne Larsen: Safe & Drug Free Schools: "It's a whole comprehensive effort where school lunch people know what's going on, the playground monitors know what's going on, principals, teachers you're all working together. To some degree we don't have a comprehensive effort, all the pieces in place."
Shortly after our investigation aired the state created a task force, which will issue its first report by mid-spring. In addition, the Granite School District put its principals on alert, reminding adults on recess duty to be proactive -- no socializing, no leaning on walls.
It appears the message is getting through. We returned to a Granite District school where we'd spotted problems. This time around adults stay busy -- kids stay safe at recess.
There's also better supervision at schools in Salt Lake and Jordan School Districts. Officials in those districts got defensive about our first reports, denying there were serious problems. Still, we've noted big changes -- monitors in the middle of the playgrounds, recess looks fun.
Shauna Miller, Parent: “I don’t want him to go to school and not feel safe there. He spends a lot of time there.”
This mother's seeing change. Dallin Miller is a second grader who hid in the school bathroom to avoid bullies. Since our reports, his school's stepped up.
Shauna Miller, Parent: "I think the school is more on top of it. I think they're responding better to what's going on at recess. I think the aides are watching closer."
We're still getting word of problems: repeated bullying, aggressive behavior at some schools. If this sounds familiar, report them to school officials, they're using your information to help shape the new approach to this problem. You can contact Verne Larsen with Safe & Drug Free Schools at the Utah State Office of Education by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.