Karen Glenn is the one who teaches the teachers how to spot bullying in Hamilton County. The first step is for the parent to talk with a teacher. The school should then investigate.
“To determine if it in fact is bullying behavior. If it is bullying behavior then there should be a safety plan put in place,” said Glenn.
Jennifer Woods is a retired Hamilton County educator and speaks freely about what she saw then and what she is hearing now.
“Somewhere along the line with the parents I have been talking to, the ball is being dropped. A lot of times the student who reports the hazing gets victimized because the school doesn't do anything and the school retaliates,” said Woods.
Woods claims there is a culture of silence at the administrative level.
“When parents call out to central office, they claim to investigate it. They talk maybe to the victim, maybe to the administrator, maybe to the student and then they say that's an investigation. To me that's not an investigation,” said Woods.
Glenn's non-profit group called stars offers professional development and student training.
She says it is working and that bullying dropped 40% in Hamilton County last year.
“Was it resolved with parent contact? Was it resolved with suspension? Or any other type of thing. So that's information we collect every year from all our administrators,” said Glenn.
Woods says while the organization's methods help, too many parents feel the need to pull their child out.
One of three things happens: The student goes to alternative school; the parent home-schools them, or the student does their work online.
“You’re a child who is doing what you are supposed to do. It’s looked upon as punishment. I’ve followed the rules and did what I supposed to do and you are taking away the social aspect of me being able to go to school and see my friends,” said Woods.
Karen Glenn with STARS agrees. She says school should feel like safe place.
“We hope that it doesn't get to that because our students need to be able to work together,” said Glenn.
Staff at 75% of Hamilton County Schools have gone through STARS training. They use the Olweus program in their training.
Every school isn't required to take part in the program. They are required however to have a bullying prevention plan in place.
To read more about the Olweus program visit http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/index.page