Local administrators say preventing bullying a top priority

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Keith Hagene, superintendent of Pinckneyville Community High School, said bullying is repeated verbal or physical treatment of a person that impairs his or her educational opportunities.

“I think it is that repeated act. We try to identify that aggressively, if it is brought to our attention,” Hagene said. “If someone is going out of his or her way to make you miserable, it is bullying.”

When bullying is suspected, PCHS staff evaluates the situation, has conversations with those involved and takes disciplinary action, if necessary. They also try to educate all parties involved.

“If someone is treating another poorly, we look at it like a teachable moment and try to educate them, as well as discipline them,” Hagene said.

PCHS uses an app-based tool called STOPit to help respond to bullying. The app allows students to log-in anonymously to report suspected bullying. The district is trying to get students empowered to help each other.

“It allows them to have a tool to help others stand up for themselves,” Hagene said. “Our kids are using it.”

Having that tool in place seems to be a good deterrent for bullying.

“We care about our kids. We care about them a lot, and we will do everything we can to make sure they are not mistreated,” Hagene said.

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