“Working together as a community, we can end this cycle of bullying”
ELLICOTT CITY, MD – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) today joined Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Superintendent Dr. Renee Foose to launch a comprehensive community-based anti-bullying initiative. The new program, “Stand Up HoCo, includes a marketing and outreach effort and an online- and web-based reporting system for incidents of bullying. A coalition of educational, recreational and community-based partners will be working together to combat this serious problem. This will be complemented by a new system for cameras on HCPSS buses that will serve as an additional child-protection measure.
“We need to know that our kids are safe. And our kids need to know that if they’re being harassed at school or out in their communities, they have somewhere to turn and that life really does get better,” said Senator Cardin. “Howard County is taking concrete steps toward ending this cycle of bullying. I’m proud to support legislation that would make the federal government a better partner in helping states and local communities.”
“As a parent, I worry about the very real affects of bullying. As a leader, I know Howard County can come together to change the way we think about and deal with this problem,” said County Executive Ulman. “Our program is unique: we have public schools, private schools, sports leagues, parks and playgrounds, and community institutions coming together with a shared mission, and a shared message that bullying is unacceptable and must stop.”
The campaign slogan and logo were developed through community participation in a County social media survey and voting promotion. Reports of bullying will be reviewed and sent to responsible adults at the locations where incidents occur. California-based Sprigeo has donated the use of the system for one year to Howard County. It has previously been used only in school settings. This is its first application community-wide.
Stand Up HoCo has three primary components:
· A social marketing and outreach effort, funded largely through $250,000 in the County budget proposed by County Executive Ulman and approved by the Howard County Council.
· A menu of training and resources that will be available online and through program partners.
· The online and mobile reporting tool, http://hoco.sprigeo.com.
Starting this school year, a series of four individual cameras have been installed in 100 of the newest vehicles used by the school system, with another 111 buses to be equipped by the end of the year. That would mean about half of the buses used by the county would have the devices.
In launching the program, Howard County conducted a survey to identify baseline attitudes about bullying. The online survey of more than 300 kids and more than 2,400 adults showed that two-thirds of kids surveyed report having ever been bullied, and that half of those who have been bullied, were bullied within the past 30 days. The majority of kids – over 80% – have witnessed another kid being bullied. Half of those who have witnessed it reported seeing it happen frequently – 2-3 times a month or more.