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  • Schools combat bullying with online reporting system & programs

    November 14, 2014

    by Kate Evans
    The Morgan Messenger – October 29, 2014

    An online reporting system for bullying and unsafe school conditions has allowed students, staff and the public to report 92 incidents in Morgan County schools since 2012, when the system was put in place.

    Anyone in the community students, teachers, other school staff, volunteers, parents or community members can use it to report incidents or situations involving school safety.

    School safety concerns could include bullying, harassment, intimidation, fighting, drugs, alcohol, weapons, cyber-bullying or kids talking about hurting themselves.

    Morgan County Schools Social Worker Gary McDaniel said the system is making an impact in local public schools.

    McDaniel noted that students that are bullying or getting into fights are in the minority.

    Changes school climate

    One reason why the online reporting system, called Sprigeo, works is that offenders realize they’re being watched, said McDaniel. Those who are bullying will be reported for their behavior even if it’s not seen by a teacher, he said. That changes the culture of the school, McDaniel said.

    The system is also truly anonymous. Anyone can give their personal information for follow-up contact if they want to. Most kids do, McDaniel said.

    The incident reporting form can be accessed at the Sprigeo website from any computer with Internet access. A link for the Sprigeo website is also located on the Morgan County Schools website under employee resources. The system also has an app for smartphones.

    How it works

    A drop-down menu asks users to report the state, specific school, type of incident, when and where it’s occurring such as at school, on the bus or on social media-and how many times it’s happened. Users can also indicate who the target and the offender are and write a narrative of what took place.

    The report goes directly to an administrator or counselor at the school involved. It also goes to McDaniel and Technology Director Tom Shade so officials can make sure someone is following up on the incident.

    Follow-up actions

    McDaniel sees what actions were taken by the administrator or counselor, which are checked off in the incident report. There can be multiple actions, ranging from a call to police to expulsion or in-school counseling and disciplinary actions.

    McDaniel has a running record of all incidents that have been reported through the system and their resolution or status.

    The online reporting system lets administrators and counselors know something needs attention.

    “It’s hard to fix a problem that you don’t know exists,” he said.

    Site resources

    The Sprigeo website also offers resources for parents and kids such as parent education, interviews with experts and the Heroes project that highlights students around the country and their bullying prevention projects. McDaniel and his son Aidan McDaniel were featured on one of Sprigeo’s earliest “Heroes” interview segments.

    Programs in schools

    Bullying and violence prevention programs in Morgan County schools include the Too Good For Drugs and Too Good For Violence programs, D.A.R.E., Mentors in Violence Prevention and the Berkeley Springs High School bullying prevention club, McDaniel said.

    A middle school student bullying prevention council is being formed on Unity Day on Wednesday, October 22 when county students, staff and community members are wearing orange to take a stand against bullying.


    Each school and its counselor are tasked with offering programming on character building and conflict resolution that’s age-appropriate, McDaniel said. They can include violence prevention, Internet safety and friendship and social and emotional skills.

    At the elementary level, those efforts may include talking about being a good friend and taking turns. At the high school level, programs focus on violence and dating violence prevention programs.

    Basic skills, like how to include others and resolve conflicts, picking up on others’ non-verbal cues and knowing when being playful and teasing starts to hurt someone’s feelings, can help prevent bullying.

    McDaniel noted that human beings do play with others.

    “If I can read your cues, I’ll know better when to back off and where to draw the line between play and harm so it doesn’t become harassment or threatening,” he said.

    The “Be a Friend, Lend a Hand” program asks kids what they think about bullying and harassment and what they do when they see it. The results show students that the majority of their peers are against bullying, which encourages kids to stand up to it.

    Links to many bullying prevention resources and student-made bullying prevention videos can be found on McDaniel’s Social Work Department page on the Morgan County Schools website.

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