Schools Offer Cash Rewards for Reports of Bullying
Some are calling it “Snitches for Hire”. Schools are now offering cash rewards to students who report acts of bullying. This movement is coming after legislation makes bullying a criminal offense. Repeated acts of mean behavior are now being treated similarly to violent acts, like assault and destruction of property.
I remember walking through my school hallway as a freshman and seeing posters featuring an anonymous tip line. As a student at an inner-city school which had a reputation for fights, there was no lack of the phrase “if you see something, say something”. Our school administration wanted to make sure that any threats of violence or the presence of a weapon, was reported and dealt with promptly.
As a 14-year-old, it was clear to me what to report and what not to report. I was even motivated to keep an eye out for such things. Not only did I want to be safe, but $50 in cash sounded like a nice reward, for doing the right thing. Today bullying is being added to the list of behaviors that students can be rewarded for reporting.
What is Considered Bullying?
Today, bullying behaviors such as name-calling and rumors are treated as a crime in many states. States like New Jersey, Louisiana, and Texas are known for strict anti-bullying legislation which seeks to make bullying a criminal offense, punishable by law. The only question is “How do you define bullying?”. As a national speaker who specializes in bullying prevention, I’m consistently amazed at the various answers to this question. It doesn’t matter if I’m talking to an elementary student, a parent, or a PhD. I often find that how a person defines bullying does not meet the definition. There are really three (or some would say, as many as five) widely recognized definitions of bullying. No wonder kids are confused!
Texas Schools Subject to David’s Law
Texas schools must now follow David’s Law. Named after David Bartlett Molak, a 16-year-old who completed suicide after being bullied, the law increases the responsibility for educators to investigate cyberbullying and communicate to parents. It also requires schools to have an anonymous reporting system in place. Anonymous reporting hotlines recently caused issues in Colorado as teens used a reporting hotline to torment a student and her parents. Under “David’s Law” bullying is now a criminal offense in the state of Texas.
Teacher Concerns Grow Amid Bullying Reports
Teachers and administrators in Texas, are also concerned about reporting. Some schools, which offer cash rewards for reporting crimes, are now faced with a difficult decision. Should they pay the same reward when a report is received for behaviors such as insults jokes, and criticism?
How Much Does Bullying Cost School Districts?
Educators, though, think that it’s important to take the severity of bullying behavior into consideration before dishing out cash. Investigating a single bullying incident can costs districts $1,200 – $1,500 of staff time and district resources. Investigations often involve multiple staff members, meetings/phone calls to parents, repeated student interventions and district paperwork. If things go legal, the financial risk skyrockets.
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