South Dakota schools address the bullying issue

Sioux Falls, S.D - Ask a child you know, and there's a good chance he or she, or someone they know, has been bullied at some point. Iowa recently released its latest report detailing instances of bullying. Statewide there were more than 1,400 cases in schools last school year. Those numbers are lower than previous years. Still, it got us wondering about bullying reports in South Dakota.

Back in 2012 the South Dakota legislature passed a bill requiring that each school district adopt a policy prohibiting bullying, but it’s up to each individual district to create that specific policy. Unlike Iowa, they don't track the number of bullying incidents in each district.

“There’s no perfect process in place, but if we can have our students create the environment that amongst them they don’t tolerate bullying, that’s ultimately our goal,” Dell Rapids Superintendent, Summer Schultz said.

Schools across South Dakota are required by law to have a bullying policy in place.

“They have to include in that policy certain things. You know for example a statement prohibiting bullying, a definition of bullying, and a procedure for reporting bullying,” South Dakota Department of Education Spokesperson, Mary Stadick Smith said.

“I think what’s so much more important in schools is creating the environment. Doing the preventative things to try to create a culture where bullying isn’t accepted,” Schultz said.

The South Dakota Department of Education said in terms of how a district implements that policy, that’s up to the districts, not the state.

“Through the accreditation process we would ask for any exhibit. Which would be, show us your bullying policy,” Smith said.

“I think our state has done a good job at saying we expect you as school districts to have a plan. To have a policy, and from there, you determine the best way to follow through with that,” Schultz said.

As for the number of bullying cases in South Dakota classrooms,

“We don't have numbers of bullying per say. What school districts do report to us would be instances of violence. So if there was a fist fight or if somebody brought a knife to school, you know those types of instances we do have numbers on those,” Smith said.

The Iowa Department of Education said they also check that districts have that policy through the accreditation process and let schools implement their own specific policies.