Three arrests put bullying in spotlight
Issue a serious concern, YUHSD superintendent says
When dealing with bullying incidents, Yuma Union High School District Superintendent Toni Badone said that their campuses have policies in place to ensure that issues are dealt with as soon as they are discovered.
“We take bullying very seriously ... The minute that we find out it's going on, if it needs to be reported to the police, we do that. If it's a lesser type of infraction, because there are various levels of severity, we deal with it. We don't have any tolerance for bullying,” said Badone.
In an incident Wednesday where three Vista High School students accused of bullying were arrested, campus personnel was credited by the San Luis Police Department as making the initial report after first calling the parent and asking for their support to file charges.
“This incident was brought to the school's attention and it was immediately investigated and addressed. We aren't going to allow that kind of behavior on our buses or in our classrooms,” Badone commented.
According to the SLPD, Vista personnel suspected a 15-year-old boy was being bullied while attending classes at the school, as well as during the bus ride to and from the campus in Yuma.
SLPD officers and detectives aided by personnel from Amberly's Place revealed two of the juveniles arrested had allegedly taunted the boy with unflattering names and assaulted him. They also allegedly threatened to assault him again if he told his parents, school staff or the authorities about their behavior. The third juvenile arrested had allegedly recorded video of some of the incidents.
All three suspects were booked into the Yuma County Juvenile Justice Center. They face charges of threatening and intimidating, assault, harassment, disorderly conduct and interfering with an educational institution.
The student's identities were not released by the San Luis Police Department because they are juveniles. However, the victim and those arrested are all residents of San Luis, Ariz.
Sgt. Leanne Worthen, a spokeswoman for the Yuma Police Department, said that the initial call about the incident went to YPD because Vista High School is located in Yuma, but it was determined that the case would be best handled by SLPD.
“We did an initial investigation and based on our information we felt it was best handled by San Luis,” Worthen said.
Badone shared that YUHSD works with the San Luis Police Department as well as YPD, Amberly's Place and many other local agencies to address any bullying issues. She added that many of the agencies are all also part of an Anti-Bullying Task Force in Yuma in an effort to put a stop to bullying.
Badone also said that district staff and faculty are trained on how to handle bullying either during pre-service training or during other professional development sessions throughout the year.
“We have to consistently work on training every employee, including our bus drivers, classified staff and certificated staff, on how to recognize harassment, intimidation and bullying and what to do when it is discovered,” she said. “Training topics are not just related to teaching but have to do with creating a positive, safe and orderly environment. We address challenges like when a bus driver has a bus full of students and they're supposed to pay attention to the road and what they can do in that situation.”
SLPD encourages anyone in their jurisdiction who is being bullied, or who knows of someone else who is being victimized, to contact the SLPD Safe Schools Program at 341-2420.
“The San Luis Police Department commends the Yuma Union High School District for their prompt response in this and other cases of bullying. Their strict enforcement of district policy that addresses bullying is evident,” stated SLPD officials.
Visit www.stopbullying.gov for information about how to prevent bullying.