State Superintendent Mark Johnson on Monday proclaimed October “School Safety and Kindness Month.”
Johnson also launched the “NC Kindness Campaign” to emphasize kindness in schools as an important part of school safety.
“These days we see too much violence in schools and too many problems like cyber-bullying,” Johnson said. “Sometimes, simple acts of kindness can prevent issues that may grow into tragedies.”
Johnson referenced the deadly October 2018 shooting incident at Butler High School in Matthews.
Johnson said the “NC Kindness Campaign” was inspired by the “strength and resiliency of the students” at Butler High in the aftermath of the tragic shooting, which was described as a case of alleged bullying turned deadly.
In July, Jatwan Cuffie pleaded guilty to the shooting death of Bobby McKeithen during a fight in a crowded hallway at Butler High.
Then-Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Superintendent Clayton Wilcox told area media that the shooting appeared to have stemmed from a case of bullying “that escalated out-of-control.”
McKeithen’s family has disputed that narrative, contending McKeithen was not a bully.
Here are the goals for students in the NC Kindness Campaign:
- Show acts of kindness to those who may be hurting.
- Avoid unkindness in any form.
- If you see something concerning, say something.
- Help support teachers in improving discipline in classrooms, which everyone knows can be a challenge.
Johnson’s proclamation coincides with the National Bullying Prevention Month, which starts Tuesday, Oct. 1.
As far as bullying goes, North Carolina falls in the middle of the pack in a 2018 WalletHub analysis of 47 states.
The state ranked 26th in the analysis, which weighed the cost of truancy as a result of bullying, bullying prevalence, bullying impact and treatment and anti-bullying laws.
Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington were excluded from the analysis due to data limitations.
Johnson noted that NCDPI continues to put emphasis on School Resource Officers and mental health supports.
He also provided an update on the “Say Something App” the state will launch later this year.
“Students play a critical role in helping to keep schools safe,” Johnson said. “They may see and hear concerns that adults need to know about but may be reluctant to report them. With the Say Something program, middle and high school students will better understand what warning signs to look for and when and how to report important tips through an app. Making this app available statewide will be an important part of our efforts to make schools safer.”
Once implemented, there will be a 24/7 command center dedicated entirely to North Carolina to receive tips and report them to the appropriate school officials and agencies, Johnson said.