Sheriff unveils anti-bullying website featuresWritten by Frank DiLallo | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret Mead once said, “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Well a small group of thoughtful people here in our city have launched a grassroots county-wide anti-Bullying Campaign last March. The campaign was spearheaded by Dr. Lisa Pescara-Kovach, University of Toledo Associate Professor and Mr. John Adams, Senior Director for University Marketing, with endorsements from the Toledo City Council and Lucas County Board of Commissioners. The campaign kicked of by involving local school districts in anti-bullying pledges.
On May 1 a related press conference was held in One Government Center announcing the addition of the Sheriff’s Office to the county-wide campaign. Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak announced a new feature on the Sheriff’s website to report bullying to “eliminate this problem.” Sheriff Telb stated, “in-coming reports will be forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement and school district.”
Sheriff James Telb stated “reports on the website are not just for schools, but can include workplace and neighborhood incidents.” The Sheriff introduced Lt. Tricia White with the Law Enforcement Division as “responsible for getting this off the ground.” Lt. White stated the Sheriff’s website at: http://www.co.lucas.oh.us/index.aspx?nid=530 “now has a red “report bullying now icon” and when clicked will pull up a “standardized bullying report form.” When I went on the website on the same day as the press conference the red “REPORT BULLYING NOW” is highly visible and looks similar to a stop sign. A click immediately pulls up the reporting form titled, “Lucas County Sheriff’s Office, Anti-Bullying Initiative, Information Fact Sheet.”
The Sheriff’s report form requires a reporting person to identify him/herself, a phone number or email address, the school name, school district, the police jurisdiction and five incident types in which to click a yes or no, including bullying, weapons in school, threats, fights or other. The bottom of the form requires the reporting person to describe the incident, provide names of persons involved, the date and location of the incident and potential witnesses along with any other useful information.
Lt. White reiterated that when there is an in-coming report from the website, “Lieutenant’s will look at the report form and respond by contacting the appropriate law enforcement agency and school district.” In addition to the website feature, Lucas County residence can report bullying 24/7 by calling or texting the Sheriff’s Office at: 419-654-3425.
Governor John Kasich signed Ohio HB 116, the “Jessica Logan Act” into law last January. The new bullying policy requires public school districts provide “A strategy for protecting a victim or other person from new or additional harassment, intimidation, or bullying, and from retaliation following a report, including a means by which a person may report an incident anonymously.” Although public schools are required to offer an anonymous reporting option, Lt. White stated, “we (Sheriff’s Office) believe it is important the person filing a report can be identified in order to effectively respond.”
Dr. Lisa Pescara-Kovach stated “it is important to include law enforcement in our efforts to stop bullying. Bullying is not always physical, but when it is law enforcement should be involved to determine if there has been an assault.”
The anti-bullying campaign continues to grow as the number of thoughtful people in our community align and strengthen a commitment to work together toward the elimination of bullying in our schools, neighborhoods and places of work.
Frank DiLallo has served as the prevention/intervention schools consultant for the Catholic Diocese of Toledo, covering the 19 Northwest Ohio counties the diocese serves. He also regularly speaks at conferences and schools across the country.