MUSTANG PUBLIC SCHOOLS RELEASES MESSAGE TO PARENTS FOLLOWING RECENT TRAGEDIES

Ch 9 - February 5, 2024 10:59 am

Mustang Public Schools released a message on Sunday vowing to strengthen laws against cyberbullying in Oklahoma.

This comes after what the district calls “twin tragedies” last week, including the death of one student.

The district first told families at Mustang High that one of its students attempted self-harm on Wednesday.

The next day, the district reported the death of a different student.

School officials didn’t say how the student died, but reminded families of the importance of talking with their children and reminding them that suicide is not an option.

The new letter on Sunday thanked the community for its support over the past week.

District Superintendent Charles Bradley said he will meet with the State Department of Education and the State Department of Mental Health to provide resources for his students.

The district also shared plans to work with lawmakers to increase the legal penalties for cyberbullying.

Earlier this week, the school said it identified one current student and one former student responsible for a social media page dedicated to cyberbullying.

Related Stories:

  1. FBI Investigates Possible Cyberbullying At Mustang Schools
  2. Mustang Schools Confirm Unexpected Death Of Student

One Mustang sophomore says she hopes there’s more awareness around suicidal thoughts and cyberbullying.

“I feel like that just bringing it to light and addressing the fact that a lot of people are going through things like that, would help,” said Mustang High sophomore Aubrey Bingham.

The district says its top priority is to take bullying seriously and connect students in need of help with counselors or other professionals.

You can read the entire message from Supt. Bradley below:

Mustang Families,

Our hearts continue to be heavy as we process the twin tragedies of last week at Mustang High School and see the aftermath of a grieving school community. Our deepest condolences are with the Turner family at this time. The range of emotions from shock to anger to blaming are natural and to be expected. I want to encourage all of us to support each other during this time.

In that vein, I want to say that as a father and Superintendent, I am very proud of our high school students, staff, administration, and families. Last week, I personally saw the Mustang community rally around our high school and support us as we grieved the injury of one student and the loss of another. I saw Administrators working tirelessly to support students while working with law enforcement to investigate the spread of online hate. I saw staff literally holding grieving students while trying to keep a routine to help their other students cope. I saw students supporting one another and voicing their concerns about the entire situation. From our Child Nutrition staff to our Custodians and Bus Drivers to our local Churches and community, we have shown this week that Mustang cares about and supports our kids and schools.

I want to encourage you to continue to have those critical conversations with your child(ren). I know firsthand that these talks are not easy. I have found that asking open-ended questions such as “What happened at school today,” “Did anything negative happen today,” or even “What was the best/worst part of your day today,” can start to open the lines of communication. Talking does not solve all problems, but we are even more limited in our ability to help without talking.

From a school District perspective, this week, we will be meeting with the Student Development Department of the Oklahoma State Department of Education to identify resources and plan our next steps while furthering the expansion of our efforts to help prevent and deal with such tragedies. We will also involve the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in the conversation as they have reached out to offer resources and assistance.

We will also meet with state lawmakers to evaluate the legal ramifications of acts such as cyberbullying. We learned this week that the current law, in certain instances, may not afford legal consequences for certain online bullying (despite receiving severe consequences from a school). This must be fixed, and we will work to champion this cause.

Bullying is a complex issue made more enigmatic by the popularity of social media. Our top priority is to ensure a safe learning environment for our students and staff. Because of this, we take any reports of bullying at our schools very seriously. If you have any questions about our policies or programs, please feel free to speak with your child’s teachers, site administrators, or the district office. We also have a website dedicated to bullying prevention containing resources, MPS policy/procedures, reporting guidelines, and more. It can be found at https://www.mustangps.org/families-students/bullying-prevention.

As we move through this difficult time, please keep our students, staff, and families in your thoughts and prayers. Our school community is hurting, and we will continue to do all we can to support you – you are loved, appreciated, and you are enough.

Respectfully,

Charles Bradley, Superintendent

Mustang Public Schools

—-

Bullying is a form of behavior often characterized as the targeting of one person or group of people by another person or group.

This behavior can manifest physically, verbally, electronically or socially, and can affect individuals of all age groups. Bullying can be for reasons related to a power imbalance, intimidation, because of a victim’s perceived “strangeness” or “otherness” or because of a sense of inadequacy in the bully themselves.

These are not all the reasons for why bullying occurs, but some examples may include:

  1. A group of children ostracizing another child because of their race, background, sexuality, etc.
  2. Coworkers or a boss in the workplace using their numbers or authority, respectively, to harass or intimidate another employee.
  3. A child hurting another because the former is bigger/taller/stronger than the latter.
  4. Saying intentionally hurtful or derogatory things online towards another person.

How Common Is Bullying?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied in 2022, and 1 in 6 reported being cyberbullied as well.

The CDC said nearly 40% of high school students who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and about 33% of those who were unsure of their sexual identity experienced bullying at school or electronically in 2022, compared to 22% of heterosexual high school students.

Roughly 30% of female high school students experienced bullying at school or electronically in the last year, compared to about 19% of males.

Nearly 29% of White high school students experienced bullying at school or electronically in the last year compared to about 19% of Hispanic and 18% of Black high school students, according to the CDC.

Consequences Of Bullying

Bullying can be very detrimental to the physical and mental health of its victims, ranging from physical injuries to emotional distress and even death or suicide.

The CDC says bullying increases the risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement and dropping out of school. Youth who bully others are at an increased risk for substance abuse, academic problem and experiencing violence later in adolescence and adulthood.

Youth who bully others and are bullied themselves suffer the most serious consequences and are at greater risk for mental health and behavioral problems.

How To Prevent Bullying?

There are several ways to prevent bullying.

Apart from actively monitoring bullies and their victims, making sure individuals have a way of speaking about their issues in a constructive way, rather than being outwardly destructive to themselves or others, will benefit the mental and physical health of everyone involved. Sometimes bullies bully because they have their own insecurities they are facing.

Sometimes modifications to the environment in which bullying takes place are necessary. It may be necessary to remove someone who is causing a problem, or perhaps a change for everyone in a setting is what is needed.

Making sure others have access to mental health resources is important, but another way to combat bullying is to foster positive relationships among children, coworkers, neighbors, etc. If one person feels threatened, they have multiple avenues to seek help from other people.

According to the CDC, different types of violence are connected and often share root causes. Bullying is linked to other forms of violence through shared risk and protective factors. Addressing and preventing one form of violence may have an impact on preventing other forms of violence.

It is our policy to provide resources for anybody considering self-harm when reporting about a situation involving suicide or a suicide attempt.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a certified listener, call 1-800-273-8255.

The Veterans Crisis Line and Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1) connect veterans and service members in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text.

Crisis Text Line is a texting service for emotional crisis support. To speak with a trained listener, text HELLO to 741741. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential.

For 988 resources, click here.

For more information and resources from the Oklahoma Mental Health and Substance Abuse, click here.

 

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