THE ISSUE: Bullying, especially in schools, has become a national epidemic.

THE IMPACT: Boonville schools, along with the University of Missouri and the Boonville Police Department are working together for better solutions to this problem. The district hopes to have a community discussion soon.

In 2013, about 28 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year, according to theIndicators of School Crime and Safety.

For many, this number is too high, including the Boonville R-1 School District.

As reported earlier, the district is taking bullying very seriously, which has prompted a whole new approach when dealing with this problem. While bullying has always been a problem, with the invention of social media, the problem has been compounded. At times, there is no face being the perpetrator.

For the last several months individuals and entities have partnered up for one single cause – to defeat bullying – combining to form an advisory committee.

WIth the district leading the way, Dr. Chad Rose from the University of Missouri, has been offering his expertise, including helping the district receive a grant to fund an application so that students can anonymously report bullying in any situation or school building they are in. The Integra ED application brings reporting right to the smartphone or tablet. Being more versatile and freeing, students have more choices when reporting an incident. Often, they do not want to be associated or become another target of the individual doing the bullying. This is why Rose believes the ap will be a good thing for students to use so they do not have to provide their name. Rose stated earlier this year he believes bullying could be cut down by this alone.

A partnership also has to be with law enforcement as they can offer insight on problems the district may not have any knowledge of.

“I would say our department is working closely with the school district on these measures and our officers have been attending the anti-bullying meetings. Our department wants to support the policy adopted by the school district and offer the district any assistance allowable under the Missouri State Statutes. The Boonville Police Department has a close working relationship with the Boonville School District and we feel working together from the onset of these discussions will be beneficial to everyone. The Boonville Police Department strongly supports any policy or program which reduces bullying in our schools and city,” Boonville Police Chief Bobby Welliver stated.

According to Boonville R-1 Schools Assistant Superintendent Sarah Marriott, much has been achieved, but more still needs to be done. This is why the district may be offering a parent night, which will allow the district to have a discussion with the community itself.

“We want everyone to know that bullying is not accepted here,” Marriott said.

As the district continues to revamp their policy and implement new ideas and strategies, they will continue to work with Dr. Rose.