Assaults and fights between students in Brick Township schools were down during the 2011-12 school year, but the district led the county in the number of Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) reports it sent to the state.
Violence and Vandalism report data was released by the state Department of Education Tuesday.
The report showed Brick – Ocean County's second-largest school district – only led the county in the HIB category. In most other categories, the number of incidents was relatively small given the district's large size of 9,748 students.
In all, the number of assaults district-wide dropped from 81 the prior year to 52 last year, and the number of fights dropped from 49 to 26.
There were also 16 threats – a new category in the report this year – reported to the state, which brought Brick's total number of incidents in the violence category to 94.
The district had six reports of vandalism, four weapons reports and 42 substance abuse reports submitted to the state agency.
County-wide, Lakewood Township topped the violence statistics with 134 incidents overall, as well as the number of weapons reports, with 20. Toms River topped the vandalism statistics with 12 incidents, as well as the substance abuse category with 66 incidents reported.
But Brick held the top spot for the number of HIB reports submitted. Assistant Superintendent Walter Hrycenko said the district was exceptionally diligent in submitting HIB reports – required under the state's anti-bullying law – and some simple conflicts between students may have been reported as bullying incidents.
"We tried to err on the side of, 'if we weren't sure, put it in as a HIB,'" said Hrycenko. "It's a fine line. We're going to look at that closely."
As for the reduction in the number of assaults and fights, Hrycenko said the district's anti-bullying program is working, as well as its ongoing character education program. But keeping a keen eye on students has been effective as well.
"We attribute it to better monitoring in the schools," said Hrycenko, adding that the district's block scheduling in the high schools means students spend less time in the hallways.
This week is the district's "Week of Respect" where students will attend assemblies focused on respecting others. On Thursday, students are being encouraged to wear yellow, the color that symbolizes respect.
Full report data can be downloaded from the state's website.