By Brian Burgess, School Counselor, PPE

On Tuesday night I spoke about bullying following a request from our PTO leadership. There were a good number of parents in attendance, but they only represented about one fifteenth of our school population. I felt that the content shared needed to be available for you to read as well if you were not able to attend.

The Board of Education policy on bullying is as follows:

Bullying is any intentional act that is severe, persistent or pervasive and substantially interferes with a student’s educational benefits, opportunities or performance, and has the effect of:

  1. Physically harming a student or damaging a student’s property;
  2. Knowingly placing the student or students in reasonable fear of physical harm to the student or damage to the student’s property;
  3. Causing emotional distress to a student or students;
  4. Creating a hostile educational environment.
  5. Bullying may involve, but is not limited to, the following: unwanted teasing, threatening, intimidating behavior, cyberbullying, physical bullying, theft, sexual, religious or racial harassment, and public humiliation.

Bullying, it reiterates, is persistent and pervasive behavior, not one-off or occasional behavior over a long period of time. Kids have always teased, still do and always will. To some extent we have to toughen up our kids to deal with the occasional incident. At PPE we try hard to provide a positive environment. We teach and emphasize kindness all the time.

As far as physical bullying is concerned, we rarely see this occur here. In regard to teasing, girl drama etc we try to get onto this smartly, checking out the details and speaking to the offended child and the perpetrator(s). Just remember that when we investigate we get both sides of the story! Sometimes a child may report a very one-sided story to the parent simply to get a rise out of them, to get their attention.

The Board of Education states that once your child reports to you any alleged bullying you should attempt to report this to the Principal within 24 hours so that it can be investigated. Please keep an open mind and wait for an investigation to take place and the Principal or Counselor to report back to you. We will not allow our students to treat others harshly or disrespect them. It has been determined that most negative behavior occurs during unstructured times (recess, lunch, on the bus) when teachers are not always there or the students are out of their structured class settings.

Our Tech Lab teacher, Mrs. Ramsey, is going to teach a cyber safety curriculum (Digital Citizenship) this year that includes cyber bullying. This is a very apt set of lessons for this day and age. We thank her for doing this. Also, Miss Stuart has a whole section of books set aside for students and parents to take out addressing the area of bullying. Check them out.

I was asked the question Tuesday night, “How can we prepare our children for dealing with bullying?” Try this:

  1. Create an open communication environment with your children so they will want to tell you everything.
  2. Train them to be positive, kind, supportive of others and to be a good friend.
  3. Teach them not to get physical in the school setting if they are afraid, have been hurt by someone’s comments, threatened or physically assaulted. There are always adults around to report an incident to and to get supportive help from our administrators or counselors.
  4. Toughen them up somewhat to deal with the real world of their future.
  5. Teach them how to deal with unkind, hurtful comments and not take them personally.

If you need any other ideas, support or an ear to listen, please contact Mrs. Twitchel or myself, but report any alleged incidents to Mrs. Williams or Mr. Mason.