Many of the parents who attended last night's meeting to discuss bullying with Natick school principals at Town Hall did so because they've found flaws in the current system that they would like to see addressed.
"Something needs to be done earlier to the bullies," one parent said during the meeting. "You can't just let [the bullying] keep happening and let those kids get away with it."
There was some discussion brought forth by some parents who felt that some kids seem to be getting too many chances when they've been caught bullying other kids. One question that was asked aloud was "at what point do you have to do more than just simply try to figure out why that child is bullying other kids at school? At what point do you need to go beyond and possibly use a form of punishment instead of working on resiliency in the victim of the bullying?"
Questions like these were asked by parents, but principals said that it can be difficult to come up with a simple solution as each kid is so different. Many seemed to be in agreement, though, that creating a culture in the school that breeds treating others with respect is an important step in ensuring that children learn the necessary lessons in how they should be treating each other.
"We need to be looking at each individual school culture and seeing what's different," Tammy Morrisseau, who has children in 10th and 5th grades.
As one portion of the discussion turned to recognizing when a child has been bullied, one parent asked, "Could there be more training for teachers?"
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
It was mentioned how teachers do so much in the classroom with academics, but that maybe they could also add more social/emotional things to the lessons, and that would then lessen the burden on the guidance counselors. It was pointed out that the teachers are trained about bullying, but a few parents still felt that maybe more training might make more of a difference.
"I think they've been more responsive when parents come to them with concerns," said Karen Sutton, who has children in 6th and 2nd grade. "I think what they're still social/emotional teaching, open circle and educating parents on open circle is good.
"They should be pooling everybody's great ideas [from the different schools] and using them at all the schools."
Two themes with the parents seemed to be consistency and the age at which anti-bullying education should begin.
A few parents expressed that they feel that the schools haven't been consistent enough in how they prevent bullying and teach the bully not to continue to be a bully.
Parents also expressed that they felt kids are learning about things such as popularity its "importance" at an earlier age and feel that the schools should consider starting anti-bullying education at an earlier age. They feel beginning at the 4th or 5th grade level is too late because by then kids have had an opportunity to learn bad social/emotional behavior.
Dr. Sanchioni will meet with the principals on Thursday to discuss bullying education in the schools.