By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY -- Martin County Sheriff William Snyder has a zero tolerance policy for bullying. A policy that led to the announcement of a new No Bully Zone initiative.
The initiative was announced just in time for the start of a new school year and was inspired by all of the violent events that have received national recognition in the past few months.
Sheriff Snyder wants nothing more than to make school a safe place for children so he created a way for the Sheriff's Office, superintendent and schools in the district to work together to stop the harmful effects of bullying.
"We want to create a climate where bullying is not tolerated," said Sheriff Snyder.
According to the sheriff, bullying is all about an imbalance of power, the strong tormenting the weak, but, "I plan to bring the balance back into the relationship," Sheriff Snyder said.
He wants students to know they are not alone, to see him and his officers as big brothers in green uniforms who will always stand behind them.
But he knows that students aren't always likely to step into an office to submit a report.
"We really needed a way for a young person to reach out to us without drawing attention to themselves," Sheriff Snyder said.
Now all a bullying victim has to do is submit a report online from their computer or phone in the privacy of their bedroom or car. Once they've entered their contact information and what school they attend they can describe in detail what they have been experiencing.
A supervisor for the Sheriff's Office then screens the submissions and refers each case to the person best able to handle to situation. Sometimes that person will be a parent or teacher, but when necessary, School Resource Officers or law enforcement officials may step in.
"I think it's going to be a great tool," Sheriff Snyder said.
It's the first program like it in the state of Florida and his goal is to be proactive, making a stand against bullying before it gets out of hand.
"We can do better than allow our children to go to school in a state of fear," Sheriff Snyder said.
Reports can be submitted online at any time at www.sheriff.martin.fl.us.