The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has plans to re-vamp the current system it uses for the reporting of incidents of violence in schools. The current system is VADIR, which stands for Violent and Disruptive Incident Report, and it uses 20 different categories to enable New York schools to report all types of violence, such as fighting, use of weapons and destruction of property. According to the New York Times, schools often failed to file reports based on “confusion about how to categorize the incidents”, so the NYSED will now reportedly reduce the number of categories to just nine.
In an article found on www.educationdive.com entitled “New York to streamline school violence reporting system”, 62% of New York City districts reported no incidents at all! This completely contradicts student reports, which clearly show that at least one in four students experiences bullying with very few exceptions. While we applaud the efforts of the NYSED to curb bullying, discrimination and harassment in schools, their actions seem misguided, at best. The passing of the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) was certainly a good idea, but the deployment was, and is, faulty in many ways. How, you ask? Well, for one, the DASA Training is only a requirement for NEW teachers. While teacher turnover is consistent year after year, most teachers working today and for many years to come will not have the DASA training. This means that they will continue to do things the old-fashioned way, which is often to ignore bullying and other inappropriate behavior. Many of these “old school” educators have no understanding of cyberbullying whatsoever. So how is bullying going to stop if only a small fraction of the teachers in our schools have received that training? It won’t. Should we then be surprised when 62% of the schools in the city don’t report any bullying incidents? No, we shouldn’t.
What else went wrong with DASA? It is a six-hour course that must be taken at least partially in-person. Why? More faulty logic. Six hours is longer than ANY college course I have ever known to exist, and many colleges and providers are making people sit through the training all in one day, usually on their day off from work or school. That is not going to make people very receptive to the workshop itself. Also, the training can only be provided by certain organizations, some of which have never provided such training before. In our online workshop, found at www.violenceworkshop.com, we have been providing bullying prevention training for well over ten years as part of our School Violence Prevention and Intervention workshop (SVPI), which is also sometimes known as the SAVE workshop. So, basically, if the NYSED wants to really stop bullying and harassment, what they should do is re-vamp the DASA workshop guidelines and not just the VADIR system. While they are at it, how about issuing penalties for principals and other administrators that are intentionally hiding violence and bullying in their schools?
Many of us knew the DASA plan was doomed to fail and most of us also knew that schools were intentionally hiding information about school violence. According to the New York Times (April 29, 2015), 10 schools were audited or observed and “more than 400 [violent] episodes went unreported, including 50 assaults resulting in injuries, 13 sex offenses and two instances of confiscated weapons”. Now that was back in early 2015, and it appears that nothing was done about it on a large scale. So what happened to wake people up? As reported in the New York Times a year after the aforementioned article (April, 2016), the Education Department was sued over violence in schools. The class-action suit was filed by a group of public school families, many of whom have children that were victims of bullying and harassment. What’s next? We don’t know. We would love to see the NYSED rip the bandage off this festering wound and take real steps towards implementing and enforcing the concepts put forth by the DASA initiative. Who knows? Maybe they will realize that the experts here at GeniusGenius of NY, the original providers of mandated training in New York, have a lot to offer and would love to help make things safer for children and employees in our schools. Thank you for visiting www.violenceworkshop.com, and please feel free to add comments to our blog.