Bullying, drugs, sexting among concerns facing school officers

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - "Today, bullying is also happening technologically: Lies, rumors, gossip," a crime victims expert told a group of school resource officers Thursday.

The officers are responsible for the health and safety of your children at school.  These days, they deal with more than just teen violence, suicide prevention, and bullying.

"Now officers have to assume the role of officer/educator, where they're responsible for crisis planning, school safety assessments, mentoring at-risk students, as well as conducting character education training in the classroom," said Robert Laird, School Safety Director for the Mississippi Department of Education.

In order to better protect students, school resource officers have to stay ahead of the game.   The means they have to learn about the latest designer drugs, how to deal with a pandemic like the Swine Flu, and how to respond to a terrorist attack.

One of their biggest challenges is keeping track of how teens use technology and understanding things like Twitter and sexting.

"In almost all school violence cases, the persons who acted out any type of aggression have told someone," said Ben Brown, the Chief SRO for the George County School District. "So social networking sites are the main form of communication now. If we monitor that, hopefully we can find that out and intervene before something does happen."

These latest trends and techniques are part of the training at the Safe and Drug Free Schools Conference at Biloxi Jr. High this week. The lessons can help the officers respond to a crime or any other crisis, so students can feel safe when they set foot on campus.

"They can focus on their school work and not have to worry about someone bullying them or intimidating them or causing them harm," said Brown.

School administrators, law enforcement officers, and teachers are also attending the conference. On Friday, the topics will focus on body language, gangs, and sexual misconduct.

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