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School Bullying 'About the Same' as Last Year

Superintendent Joseph Kraemer gives his mid-year report on incidents involving harassment, intimidation and bullying.

Jefferson schools Superintendent Joseph Kraemer gave his mid-year report on harassment, intimidation and bullying at the board of education's most recent meeting, and it showed that 2013 has been more peaceful than 2012.

"I did a comparison of last year and this year to date, meaning, basically, September to February to see how we're doing, and there was a decrease," Kraemer said. "What we're seeing pretty much is a decrease in activity in the elementary schools, which we're glad. We're doing a lot of extensive programs, and we're trying to educate our children on how to treat each other."

"Our targeted group, really for a lot of focus, happens to be the middle school," he added. "You'll see there's about the same; we had 53 incidents reported in 2012, 54 this year; 10 confirmed last year, 13 confirmed this year. In high school we had a decrease, minus two [incidents]."

There was a change in the definition of harassment, Kraemer said, which now interprets a single act, as opposed to a series of acts, as a form of bullying. He also said that the district's main goal is to educate students on what harassment, intimidation and bullying is, and also to try to make the students more accountable.

"District-wide, whether people are aware or not, our language arts curriculum is totally designed around and involves character counts: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship," Kraemer said. "It's been a few years we've been running it; it's embedded in the curriculum; they're trying to teach these characteristics to our children and how to conduct themselves in life."

Kraemer also boasted about Athletic Director John DiColo and all the work he has done with student-athletes in the township.

"Mr. DiColo has been very aggressive over the years on contacting students [with regards to] codes of conduct," Kraemer said. "Captains attend training sessions on how to lead properly. We have been the recipients of the Good Sportsmanship Award for numerous years…kudos to our students, win with honor but also lose with honor."

Kraemer went on to list all the anti-bullying programs at each school and said, "We're hoping that these activities are going to change the way students treat each other. Life is a lot less stressful when you don't have to concern yourself with being abused by other people simply because you're short, tall, skinny or you wear glasses."

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