LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- JCPS has announced the creation of a hotline to receive tips from children and/or parents about bullying incidents.

The new tipline provides another tool to ensure that students have a safe learning environment, free from discrimination and harassment, said Superintendent Donna Hargens today in announcing the tipline.

Reports made to the tipline can be anonymous, at the option of the person making the report. Officials say tips will be addressed within a week of being received.

The JCPS Bullying Tipline includes both a toll-free phone number (888-393-6780) and a web page.

Individuals who submit a report will be given a "report key" they can use, along with a personal password, to submit more information at a later date and to answer any follow up questions.

"Children can only focus on learning when they feel safe, cared for, and protected from unacceptable behavior by their classmates," Dr. Hargens said. “We’re adding this tipline to the tools already available for reporting bullying and related concerns as part of our continuing effort to put the earliest possible stop to behavior that can jeopardize student’s ability to learn, undermine their self-confidence, and magnify conflicts.”

"It is designed specifically for those people who might be afraid to report bullying. Maybe it's embarrassing to them, which is sometimes the case. Maybe they're afraid of retaliation from other kids." said Cheryl Dolson, JCPS Bullying Prevention Specialist.

Parents like Joy Furman, understand what it's like to have a child that was bullied in school.

"My daughter was actually karate kicked in her chest by a bully at school," said Joy Furman.

It happened 4 years ago when the student was in 4th grade at Foster Traditional Academy.

Furman says before her daughter was injured, the young girl was harassed.

"She came home- she'd be crying, then there would be times that she would be like secluded and keep to herself," said Joy Furman.

It's not just happening in the classroom.

Bullies can also use social media to harass others.

"Social media is, I call it the devil," said Furman.

Furman eventually filed a lawsuit against two teachers, the principal, and the alleged bullies parents, seeking compensation for medical expenses.

That case is still playing out.

While she says she would like to see more happening within schools to tackle the issue of bullying with all students,  JCPS officials are hopeful this new tipline will help kids speak up outside of the classroom.

"To get on this and put in there what's been going on so we can get on it right away and come up with a resolution," said Cheryl Dolson.

While the JCPS Bullying Tipline phone number is answered by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week, officials stress the phone number is not for emergencies such as immediate threats to life or property. Such calls should always go to 911.

JCPS Ombudsman Mindy Eaves (502-485-6644) also will continue to take calls regarding bullying or other concerns, and counselors at JCPS schools remain available to discuss bullying with both students and parents. JCPS also provides several resources regarding bullying prevention on its website.

“Students affected by bullying often keep it a secret, either because they feel ashamed or they fear retaliation if they report the behavior,” said Dr. Alicia Averette, JCPS Assistant Superintendent for Academic Support Services. “That’s why this tipline gives students and parents the option of remaining anonymous. The important message for every student to understand is that they don’t have to deal with this kind of behavior on their own."

JCPS suggests parents look for these warning signs of bullying:

  • Sleeplessness or nightmares
  • Drop in grades
  • Unexplained cuts, bruises, or scratches
  • Damaged or missing clothes, books, or belongings
  • Withdrawal or loss of interest in hobbies or friends
  • Frequent complaints of headaches or stomachaches
  • Frequent requests to stay home from school
  • Exhibiting nervous or fearful behavior about attending school or riding the bus

Signs that a child may be a bully:

  • Frequent name calling
  • Regular bragging
  • A constant need to get his or her own way
  • Spending time with younger or less powerful children
  • A lack of empathy for others
  • A defiant or hostile attitude; easily takes offense

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