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Published October 05, 2010, 09:18 PM

GF Schools Take Steps to Prevent Bullying

Recent national headlines about young people who have committed suicide because of bullying has school officials in Grand Forks making sure they take the problem seriously.

National concern about teen bullying is increasing following six suicides as a result of the issue.

Grand Forks Public Schools says they try to provide students with an environment to keep bullying at a minimum, and to solve bullying problems.

Tyler Clementi was an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University. He recently committed suicide because he was "outed" by some other students for being gay. Clementi and other young people who have taken their own lives due to bullying has gotten the attention of students in Grand Forks.

Students say beyond strict bullying policies, the district offers them another alternative.

"There's a system where you text a tip to our school officer if you have problems," Central High School senior John Simonson said.

Students in Central High say if you have or if a friend has a bully problem, just open your phone and let your fingers do the rest.

"It's a pretty easy way for the kids to communicate with the police and not be seen as the person telling on someone else," Assistant Superintendent of Grand Forks Schools Jody Thompson said.

Thompson says the program they've had with the Grand Forks police department for three years lets students voice concerns about bullying through text messaging. Bullying is not tolerated in the district. It can lead to contacting parents, suspension and expulsion.

"Schools are microcosms of our community. We're always going to have to deal with students who make poor choices. Are the consequences enough to stop bullying? No. The other approach we take is educating students," Thompson said.

Education like character development, tolerance and open door policies with teachers all helps keep bullying at bay.