Reported incidents of bullying in the Natrona County School District fell during the past school year from the previous year, according to a department spokeswoman on Tuesday.

"Across the district, we saw bullying, and that includes cyberbullying, with a decrease of 20.7%, and that's for all grade levels across the district," Tanya Southerland said.

The district's board of trustees about that and other results of tracking data from its safety and security committee at its meeting Monday, according to a news release from the district.

These are among the findings:

  • Across all grade levels, an overall decrease in the area of bullying/cyber bullying.
  • Across all grade levels, a significant increase in the use of vaping/E-cigarettes/tobacco.
  • At the elementary level, areas of increase in defiance, disorderly conduct, harassment/sexual harassment, physical harm to others and profanity. [Up 10% over 2017-2018 school year.]
  • At the middle school level, areas of increase in fighting, battery, profanity, vandalism, and threats. [Up 10% over 2017-2018 school year.]
  • At the high school level, areas of increase in classroom disruption, defiance, fighting, threat, vandalism and weapons. [Up 10% over 2017-2018 school year.]
  • At the elementary level, areas of decrease in battery, classroom disruption, drugs/alcohol, fighting, misconduct, theft, threat, and vandalism.
  • At the middle school level, areas of decrease in defiance, disorderly conduct, drugs/alcohol, harassment/sexual harassment, misconduct, physical harm to others, theft, and weapons.
  • At the high school level, areas of decrease in battery, disorderly conduct, harassment/sexual harassment, misconduct, physical harm to others, profanity, and theft at the high school level.

Southerland said the increases reported in fighting may be a result of more students using the Safe2Tell Wyoming app

On the other hand, the decreases in bullying probably are a result of the district-wide creation of a consistent policy about understanding and reporting it, and the appropriate disciplinary actions, she said.

Bullying as reported in the data is different from fighting and similar behaviors, Southerland said.

"Bullying," as defined by the district's policy, is "'repeated acts of aggression, intimidation or coercion at school against a victim who is at a disadvantage due to physical size, psychological, social power or other factors that result in a notable power differential,'" Southerland said.

That policy also includes student harassment and intimidation, she said.

The data reflects a commitment by students, parents, staff and the community to raise awareness and prevent, intervene and report incidents, according to the news release.

For example, the gives students a way to report bullying or other possibly harmful behavior.

The district also has been working with local law enforcement to increase the number school response officers.

In the past couple of years, the district has been criticized by parents and others for not preventing bullying.

The district's board of trustees approved a revised policy about bullying in September, and created a policy about communicating student and staff incidents. But only one person spoke to the board after it invited the community to comment.

Even so, a parent in November chastised the board after her daughter was assaulted by three students, saying the district in effect blamed her daughter for confronting the bullies.