Natick Parents Aim for Bully-Free Schools [Poll]

At a Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center presentation on bullying Tuesday night, parents spoke of the bullying problem in Natick and shared ideas about how to improve the situation.


As a part of Natick's growing fight against bullying, parents and educators met with a spokesperson from the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center Tuesday night to discuss how to curb the problem in Natick schools. Since Massachusetts in 2010, the schools and Natick Parents Against Bullying and Cyberbullying have been offering more programs to help prevent and educate families about the growing nationwide problem. Some say, however, what is being done is not enough.

"We're all patting ourselves on the back...but there is a real problem here," said one father who preferred to not share his name. He said he experienced that the principals at the schools have been unresponsive when instances of bullying have been reported, causing some students to leave Natick schools. "Before we start congratulating ourselves there is even a problem right at this current moment. It's good that we're doing this, but it's not anywhere tipping toward the good side."

principal, Anna Nolin, who was at the MARC presentation at the , said communication is often an issue when bullying is reported to her. Nolin, who is a co-facilitator of the Anti-Bullying Coalition, said that nine times out of 10 when she receives a message on her answering machine, it is from an anonymous parent reporting the name of the bully with few details. Other times, she said, parents she knows will tell her about their children being bullied, but will ask her not to act on the report for fear of further bullying.

"Bullies count on your silence—that's a part of the fear-developing scenario," she said.

Co-chair of the Natick Parents Against Bullying and Cyberbullying, Christine Guthrie, said that creating a safer, bully-free environment for students is a process, not a destination.

"We need to constantly be talking about this. Parents need to be talking to parents, parents need to be talking to their kids and parents need to be talking to the schools," said Guthrie. "The goal is to constantly improve. You don't get to that promised land, you keep working towards it."

The Anti-Bullying Coalition has held about 27 programs in the past year and a half.

For more information on bullying prevention and what to do if your child is being bullied, visit the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center website or the Natick Anti-Bullying Coalition website.

Do you feel bullying is a significant problem in Natick? Answer our poll question and tell us in the comment section.

BJ February 01, 2012 at 08:54 PM
I think Natick has been at the forefront of anti bullying efforts for the town. Areas that I would love to see even more growth. Peer leadership - it's been great. Move it down to elementary level as well. Expand it. Focus more on subtle forms of bullying - when groups exclude and ignore a child persistently, it is a form of bullying, not seen by adults, but felt by the child. Focus much more on building resilience in our kids.
Alissa Letkowski February 01, 2012 at 09:51 PM
BJ, thank you for your comment—all great ideas!
Karen Fossett February 02, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Yes I think there is a significant problem in Natick. That being said I don't think that it is worse in Natick than in other large public schools. I think we are in a better position here in Natick because we have an Ant-Bulleying Coalition in place and are gathering support in numbers. I would recommend that all parents make the effort to check out the information available online at MARC and Natickparents.org - get educated before you have a child in a tough situation. Let's support everyone so that all the children can feel safe at school! Bullying has life-long effects on people- let's stop the pain. It shouldn't be the norm!
Sarah L February 02, 2012 at 05:25 PM
I commend all of the initiatives and programs that Natick Parents Against Bullying and Cyberbullying have done. And agree that we all must keep working together (parents, teachers, children, school officials) towards that promised land.


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