Cedar Rapids Weather
DES MOINES, Iowa - The launching of a new anti-bullying website could offer the opportunity for victims to be able to reach out and report their incidents.
On Wednesday, the site www.reportbullyingiowa.com went live. The Des Moines-based Eychaner Foundation is behind the website. Executive Director Michael Bowser says that "regrettably, it is often difficult for students and parents to find reporting procedures, forms and contact individuals." His hope is that this will add another layer for anyone who has faced school harassment or bullying to feel empowered enough to report it.
Dr. Nick Pace is an associate professor with the University of Northern Iowa's college of education and, before that, a high school principal in Traer. He said he discovered the new website through Facebook.
"I think that schools do a real good job of trying to have their fingers on the pulse of what's happening but anybody who has spent any time in a school as a teacher, counselor or principal knows that you can't be everywhere and you don't know every single thing that goes on," said Pace.
This new website also comes months after a wave of bullying through social media sites, like Twitter, targeted some students at Eastern Iowa high schools.
Once a person fills out the web form on ReportBullyingIowa.com and submits it, Bowser said the form is "immediately e-mailed" to the superintendent or "designated contact person" with the school district. Bowser also added the organization will send a hard copy of the form to the district through the mail.
After contacting numerous school districts and administrators through the Cedar Rapids metro area, most leaders who did reply said the site was new and that they wanted to look at it further.
Linn-Mar Superintendent Dr. Katie Mulholland stressed that she wants the best possible result for a student in this situation but wanted to seek out more information about the website.
In an e-mail with Mulholland, these were some of the questions that she wanted to find more answers to:
Her questions centered on where the information that is submitted will go and does it become public record because of the way the information is collected?
- If it is a public record, does its publication anywhere violate due process?
- How will the sponsoring web site use the information?
- Will the organization be contracting the district noted on the form and want details of the investigation?
Yet, in the overall scope, Pace said this website can be a positive step forward.
"Educators, in general, are under so many demands and there can be a tendency to say 'this is one more thing'," said Pace. "I understand that but the one more thing we're talking about it to allow kids to feel fully engaged and fully empowered in their school."