Officials at Warren City Schools said they want to make it clear the minute students, parents and community members step inside any of the districts buildings that they have entered a "No Bully Zone."
The city school district, which has seen several reported cases of bullying among students this school year, has developed a K-12 anti-bullying initiative it hopes will reduce the number of bullying incidents.
Superintendent Bruce Thomas, in his first year at Warren, said the purpose of the effort is to fight the bullying epidemic while complying with an anti-bullying bill, House Bill 116, signed Feb. 2 by Gov. John Kasich that requires schools to meet specific anti-bullying criteria.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Students walk past a “No Bully Zone!” sign last week at Jefferson K-8 School in Warren. The city school district has developed a K-12 anti-bullying initiative in light of several reported cases of bullying among students this school year.
Earlier this year, Lordstown High School hosted a community bullying awareness and prevention program for parents and residents. Sue Tucker of ''No Victims No Bullies'' facilitated the program. Tucker has worked in the area of bullying with numerous school systems in the country over the last 10 years.
Youngstown City Schools Superintendent Connie Hathorn said bullying, and violence of any kind at school, will not be tolerated.
"It's really a problem, and it's something that can't be ignored," he said. "It's important to let students and parents know it isn't accepted and won't be tolerated."
Warren, like many local school districts, such as Youngstown and Lordstown, has also hosted anti-bullying programs and conducted awareness campaigns.
"It's a reality that has hit this country, not just Warren, but many school districts, in epidemic proportions," Thomas said. "It's something that's needed addressed and that's what we're doing. It's part of our ongoing commitment to make sure that our students, teachers, staff are safe at school."
Late last year Thomas designated Kristen Lewis, coordinator of student counseling and family engagement, to coordinate the development and implementation of a K-12 anti-bullying initiative.
"Bullying is a serious, nationwide issue," Lewis said, noting that a team made up of administrators, teachers, staff, students, parents, and community members worked together to help develop Warren's initiative.
"The goal is to create a positive learning environment for all of our students," she said.
The Warren district has posted banners and posters inside and on the exterior walls of its buildings to get that point across. The posters advise readers to "Stop, Walk and Talk."
"Our goal is to create safe schools and that's the message we are hoping to send," said Aaron Schwab, Warren's communications coordinator. He said the banners were hung on the exterior of all buildings after winter break in January. He noted there are also several hundred posters and flyers hung throughout the district's buildings.
Additionally, Warren has posted on its website what parents should do if they suspect their children are being bullied. There is a bullying report form parents can use to let school officials know about the suspected bullying via the website.
Thomas said realistically the school district will not eliminate all bullying.
"But anything we can do address it is a step in the right direction," he said.