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Parents Express Bullying Concerns to School Administrators

Parents who attended last night's discussion on bullying with Superintendent of Natick Public Schools Peter Sanchioni expressed concerns with portions of the status quo.

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?"

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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.

BJ February 13, 2013 at 06:49 PM
I was there, and did not come away with a few of the points expressed in this article. For example, it was made very clear that Open Circle begins in Kindergarten, and even at the preschool level, which includes anti-bullying education (appropriate for that age group) . It was also made clear that teachers are well trained in concepts taught in open circle. (and in my opinion, I have found that to be the case) There was a huge discussion about community involvement initiatives that was not mentioned in the article. And there was a terrific suggestion about posting links to open circle curriculum on the website, that I think the administration is taking seriously.
Robert Rosen February 13, 2013 at 08:39 PM
Thank you for your comments. In case you missed it, let me also refer you to the story posted earlier this morning on last night's meeting: http://natick.patch.com/articles/natick-principals-talk-bullying. Because so many issues related to bullying were discussed, I made a decision to break it up into two separate articles. This article focuses on concerns that were expressed by parents last night. While your points are correct regarding what the Natick Public Schools do, this article doesn't question, dispute or exam any of their practices or policies; rather, it presents "concerns" that some parents brought forth during the meeting. Multiple parents, for example, mentioned anti-bullying education needing to be done earlier. Their feelings were that not enough is done at an early age. A parent did question whether teachers needed more training on anti-bullying (mentioning that guidance gets it), and it is noted in this article that "it was pointed out that the teacher are trained about bullying." Lastly, the community involvement aspect was not discussed (unless school culture is considered a part of that- that was briefly mentioned, although possibly a future topic for a whole story as it is clearly a large-scale topic) as I made a decision to focus more "within" the schools as it was a school-sponsored meeting. It's possible I may not have made the correct call on that as clearly the community involvement aspect is very important to the success of the program.

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