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Federal funding will help stop school bullying

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - The issue of bullying has become a problem in recent years. The Department of Education had said it was going to implement policies to help with the ongoing issue at the schools. While funding had been the major problem, there's good news now. DOE will be able to use stimulus funds to crackdown on bullying.  

F.B. Leon Guerrero Middle School parent Bernie Cruz says DOE needs to focus more on implementing and providing services to help with bullying for obvious reasons.  "Kid come home hurt or their self-esteem is damaged - there are teasing and all that stuff [sic]," she told KUAM News.  "They have to crackdown on bullying for the safety of the kids."

According to Agueda Johnston Middle School teacher Crystal Nelson, there are so many cases bullying reports made at her school, more specifically from those in the 7th grade.  "Per year, we coupled it with bullying and fighting, not incidents but if they were to harass the kids by saying 'I'm going to beat you up,' it's enough to trigger a referral and send them to the office. They get counseling," she told KUAM News.

To combat the issue, the Attorney General's Office was at the Chalan Pago campus today to discuss the nationwide problem to students. Nelson says bullying has a negative impact in so many ways, saying, "The affects of bullying, the victims themselves, they feel insecure, they don't feel the school is safe. Most of the time it leads to depression so they lower their self esteem and sometimes they bring it to a physical level and the AG actually talked about that. It's very important, as well as talking to the parents, the counselors."

For the past several years, the department of education struggled to create programs for bullying simply because it didn't have the funds to back it up. Now with millions of dollars released from the stimulus grants, DOE Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Bretania Underwood says a request for proposal has already been announced. The RFP is seeking companies or individuals who can over a proposal that would outline strategies to tackle the issue.

In addition, the contract could include measuring data collections and the effectiveness of the program.  "This is something we've wanted to implement way back. We now have the funding and we know that based on the disciplinary problems we have encountered even in the past couple of years, we need to address this effectively and professionally," said Underwood.

The superintendent says she's hoping the services will help train DOE employees on how to handle these types of situations, adding, "We still need to address it. The safety of our students is paramount and not only is it their safety but their well being, feeling safe, feeling secure that they wouldn't be harmed or be intimidated either by their fellow students or even by adults."

In the meantime, if you're interested in submitting a proposal, you can pick up a packet at the DOE Central Office in Hagatna.

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