El Campo ISD will host a public meeting on school safety, bullying and student use of technology on Wednesday, Nov 5 at the El Campo High School auditorium.
The Safe Schools Symposium will last around one hour, and will include presentations from various officials, and is a collaborative effort among ECISD, the El Campo Police Department and the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office.
The district hosts this event every year, but this year added technology and student Internet use. This way, parents can easily obtain all of the information, according to Superintendent Kelly Waters.
Ninety-five percent of teens, as of 2018, had access to smartphones, however, less than one third delete or restrict access to their social media because of concerns about how the content could negatively impact them in the future, according to the Pew Research Center.
What was previously thought of as a digital footprint, is now better described as a digital tattoo, Waters said.
Bullying prevention will also be addressed Wednesday, including district protocol when dealing with bullying situations.
All bullying situations have to be investigated, according to ECHS Principal Demetric Wells.
“If anybody feels that they’re being bullied, we do have a process in place,” Wells said. “If there’s a true issue with bullying, then they can tell a teacher, they can tell anybody on this campus.”
In early October, several community members expressed concern and frustration alike on social media regarding bullying in El Campo ISD schools.
“I don’t mind light being shed on anything that people may feel is a concern,” ECHS Principal Demetric Wells said. “I’d just like to have an opportunity to address the concern prior to people wanting to convict us in the court of public opinion.”
Parents with children enrolled in various schools throughout the district came forward with stories about their children’s experiences, some of the referenced situations from previous years.
An ECHS student experienced issues high school this year, leaving him withdrawn from friends and family.
The students taunted him for having a learning disability, and outside of school, an incident occurred where two students threw coins at him and his girlfriend.
The targeted student’s mother reported the incidents to a school official in October, and the student has not experienced harassment since.
One of five students in the U.S. reports being bullied, according to the Minnesota Parent Training and Information Center’s (PACER) National Bullying Prevention Center.
Texas law defines bullying and cyberbullying as “a single significant act or a pattern of acts by one or more students directed at another student that exploits an imbalance of power,” and physically harms a student or their property or places that student in fear of harm, among other criteria.
Whether an incident among students qualifies as true bullying depends on the situation, Wells said.
While the school takes bullying situations seriously, Wells said he does not believe ECHS has a bullying problem.
“I see these kids every day,” Wells said. “I see the way they interact. I see the way they talk. I see the way that they socialize. Am I going to say this campus is perfect? By all means, no way. It’s not perfect. However it’s, in my opinion, one of the best schools in all of the area.”
To report bullying or criminal activity in ECISD, call the Ricebirds Care Hotline at 578-TIPS or submit a tip via Echs.ecisd.org/content/report-bullying-here.