9/1/2014

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KATU Investigators

Principal doesn't think there's a bullying problem at South Salem HS

Principal doesn't think there's a bullying problem at South Salem HS

SALEM, Ore. – A bully at South Salem High School apologized to the boy he was bullying last Friday, but a woman who witnessed the event told KATU News she was frustrated because her own child was being bullied, too.

The mother emailed KATU, saying she spoke to administrators at the school last week about her daughter being bulled. But she described her conversation with them as a "failure."

The mom said she came to the school, coincidentally, as hundreds showed up to support another bullying victim.

When asked whether there is a bullying problem at South Salem High School principal David Phelps said "no" but added: "I would also think it's naïve to think that bullying doesn't happen in any of our schools – not only in Salem, but in Portland and any other school that has 2,000 students," he said. 
 
Phelps said he looked into the mother's allegations and while he couldn't go into specifics, he said that the school resource officer and other staff are doing everything possible to ensure a safe environment for the student.

He also said that what happened Friday was a teachable moment because administrators and staff are now having conversations with students about bullying in the classrooms.

Bullying by the Numbers

The district sent KATU a list of bullying reports. According to the report, there are hundreds of incidents from high schools across the Salem-Keizer School District.

Last year, Salem-Keizer schools received 217 reports of harassment, intimidation and bullying. This year, that number dropped to just under 200 incidents – almost 20 fewer this year than last year.

Those reports came from eight high schools across the district, which serve about 12,000 students.

At South Salem High, the principal could only provide numbers for harassment. But he said for the last two years, there've been fewer than 10.

Phelps also said bullying isn't a big part of the culture at his school.

"I think you would see in our hallways students that are accepting, whether you're a senior or a freshman," he said. "So you have all walks of life that move from classroom to classroom, and I think it's a very healthy, very normal high school environment."

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