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Violent Acts Rise in Jefferson Schools, Report Says

42 of the district's 68 total incidents included violence, an increase of 13 from previous year.

Incidents involving violence, vandalism, weapons and substance abuse in the Jefferson Township School District increased by nine cases in the 2011-12 year from the previous year, according to a report presented by District Superintendent Joseph Kraemer at Tuesday night's board of education meeting.

Kraemer said he believes the 68 incidents that took place in the district's seven schools last year are most likely because of the Harrassment, Intimidation and Bullying Law (HIB) that was enacted last year.

"I think we may have more cases because we have to report it, follow-up, and do investigations," he said.

However, Kraemer said, it is possible there were more cases of fights that altered those statistics.

Out of the different categeories, there were the most reported cases in violence, with a total of 42 incidents in the year, an increase of 13 from the previous year. The majority of these cases were in middle school, which Kraemer said is typical of that age group.

"Middle school is the primary age of that," he said. "They act out at that age a lot more. That's where the greatest incidents of bullying occur."

He noted that all acts of bullying—whether it involves physical violence or not—are deemed violent.

In substance abuse, there were 23 incidents last year, which remained constant from the previous year.

Vandalism decreased from seven to three incidents, one of which came at the district's expense.

There were no incidents involving weapons for the fourth straight year.

The 68 total incidents are the most the school has seen since the 2008-09 school year, which had 70 cases. Before that, there were 71 incidents reported in 2006-07, which is the most the district has had reported in the past nine years.

In the 2011-12 school year, 19 students were suspended in school, and 36 out of school, bringing the total suspensions up five from the previous year.

In terms of trying to bring these reports down, Kraemer said the schools are  always working to create more of a positive school climate.

"We're constantly trying to educate the kids on behavior and bullying and how it hurts people, so that's an ongoing thing," he said.

In addition to last week's Week of Respect where the middle school participated in a number of activites to promote positive behavior, the middle school is involved in a year-round grant program that aims to reduce the HIB instances.

Kraemer also pointed out that the PTA has been holding a number of bullying programs as well.

"It's a culture we can change," Kraemer said, "and we're looking forward to it."

Ralph Weber October 19, 2012 at 09:36 PM
If the severity is to much where being in school is an option. Why not have these kids in a boot camp? That deals with troubled & violent kids. The other thing is what help shall the parent's be getting for they weren't able to resolve the prob. So they do need to under go the process of how to deal with such a kid(s). Regardless of how some feel about kids needing an education. If violent kids aren't reformed. They should not return into the sydtem.
Ralph Weber October 19, 2012 at 09:39 PM
The BOE I feel its high time they be dissolved. Our Jefferson residence deserve better.
Joe from Jersey October 19, 2012 at 10:50 PM
I think the whole "bullying" initiative is really being taken out of context these days, and not just in town. You can't look at these kids funny or say something that might hurt their feelings and they'll think they're being bullied. I remember a bully was that big kid who would beat you up for your lunch money or give you a wedgie. Now bullying includes this "words hurt too" attitude. Our kids need to be a little more thick skinned when a simple joke can turn into something ugly or even violent. They need to realize that when they graduate, these bullies will not be in their lives anymore. Just get through school and it will get easier when they go out into the world and find out who there true friends are.
Bob October 22, 2012 at 05:02 PM
You think it's that easy? I had a troubled child in the school system. If I tried to physically put them in the car to get them to school, I'd have DYFS to answer for. If they didn't go to school, I get charged w/ the their truancy. When I couldn't get them out of bed, and was being struck, I called the cops, eventually the cops said it wasn't their job to do this, meanwhile I couldn't get them to school and needed help. Eventually they assaulted an officer one morning. When they got physical with me because I would not let them go to the mall because of who they were hanging out with and because they misbehaved, I had an officer come to my house and tell me that it sounded like I had a problem with my relationship with my child and that I couldn't keep them locked up all the time. I'm not pinning this on any one person and there were some some people in the police in the school that were helpful and some that the the opposite. Yes sometimes there are parents that are part of the problem, but often there are parents who are seeking every form of assistance.
Bob October 22, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Also, I was in a situation where one parent was not on board with me and everything I tried to do to change things. Yet I was the one who was taken to court. I was the one told not to leave my children alone w/ that parent by DYFS or face potential charges but at the time they could do nothing to help me separate the children from the situation/parent. As things progressed DYFS did provide our family considerable assistance but there were times when I was on an island. You really can't judge these circumstances from outside and with a broad brush. Each case is different. Sometimes it's parents that are not parenting. Sometimes it's a child w/ emotional issues that acts up even under the best parenting. When there is at least 1 parent in a household trying to help...there needs to be a team approach to helping that parent. Once I got assistance things started to turn. Today my children who were most troubled are leading happy lives and are good citizens. My child still in the school system is doing very well as well. But life was hell trying to get through this for all of us.

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