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Do you know what bullying really is?

And did you know there are laws to protect us? Mrs. Susan Clark explains the Dignity for All Student Act.

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Here at Webster Thomas, we strive to be Titans who care. We have posters hanging on the walls that highlight the components of the acronym CARE (Cooperation, Accountability, Respect, and Excellence).  We hear in our advertisements and from our teachers and administrators that bullying is wrong.

Yet, from an informal and unscientific survey of students around the building, it seems that not many students know about the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), the New York state law that requires schools to update their code of conduct, to commission a DASA coordinator, and to investigate every alleged case of bullying. This law is intended to produce a safe learning environment at school.

But what is bullying?

In an e-mail interview, Mrs. Susan Clark, the DASA Coordinator at Thomas, gave this response: “I see a difference between being mean and bullying. When someone is intentionally being hurtful and they keep doing it even after the person asks them to stop or shows they are upset, then that is bullying.” Mrs. Clark went on to say that being mean is usually intentional actions that stops after one or two times.

Mrs. Clark went on to respond to other questions related to bullying, behavior, and the law:

What is different with bullying in schools now and when you were in high school?

She explained that the internet and smart phones make things different” than when she went to high school.  She went on to say:

When I was in high school, we didn’t have a way to communicate with other kids except by going outside to play in the neighborhood or the family land line, which was monitored closely by my parents.  There was no such thing as something “going viral.”  We didn’t post pictures and videos of ourselves anywhere.  No digital cameras.  We had to get film developed at a store.

How big an issue is cyberbullying during this school year? Have there been many cases? Is it hard to catch and/or monitor?

Cyberbullying is not a bigger issue this year.  I thought it might be, with the Chromebooks, but that has not been the case. I know I don’t hear about all of it, but we have not had an increase in reported instances. Occasionally we get a complaint. Usually people bring us screen shots of conversations or pictures.  We talk to involved people including the parents of those students.  Most of the time, I wouldn’t call it bullying (which is repeated and purposeful).  Much of the time it is “mean behavior.” We work with families to find ways to make situations better and stop the mean behaviors. Quite often it has to do with a couple of friends who have had a disagreement or argument.

Is there any way to stop/prevent bullying in all forms (verbal, physical, social and cyber)?

The best people to help us monitor [bullying] are the students.  The world needs more upstanders — people who are willing to say something if they see something. Education and awareness are always helpful.  Building a culture in which people feel they can say, “Hey, that’s not cool.  Stop it,” when they see mean or bullying behavior, is important.

Is there a curriculum that you follow for preventing bullying?

We don’t have a set curriculum.  We focus on the PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports) or the CARE ideals.  In Webster, we talk about how to Cooperate, how to be Accountable for your actions; how to Respect one another (including yourself); and how to strive to be Excellent — in all facets of your life.  We start at Kindergarten in Webster and are working with the community groups such as youth sports in order to provide a consistent message in many areas for students and families. A consistent message – one that adjusted by grade level so that it is age appropriate — is important.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Do you know what bullying really is?”

  1. Rita on February 3rd, 2017 10:44 pm

    Great article, so proud of you.

    [Reply]

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The student news site of Webster Thomas High School
Do you know what bullying really is?