Members from the community met Friday to discuss current bullying issues and ways for improvement. The Natick Anti-Bullying Coalition organized the first annual conference of its kind in town, inviting members of town government, youth sports, after school programs, preschools, faith communities, arts and other activities programs. The groups met to dicuss current trends and solutions.
Christine Guthery, chair of the Natick Parents Against Bullying and Cyberbullying, said Natick is at the forefront of dealing with the problem of bullying in a proactive way. Guthery spoke about the importance of bullying prevention, not just in the schools, but in the entire community.
"This movement can't just be about the schools. As I tell parents, our kids are in our homes, they're in schools for just parts of the day," she said. "After that, they are at a friend's house, they are at youth sports, they're at extra-curricular activities and if everybody in the community is not educated about this, then our kids can't be as safe as they should be. Of course it all begins with our young people."
Natick High School student Moss Glater, Kennedy Middle School student Lindsay Lombardo and Wilson Middle School student Olivia Gastaldo attended the event as peer leaders trained in how to recognize, stop and report bullying.
"They cannot do this alone. They need support from adults in this community," said Guthery. "We all know that bullying cannot thrive where adults are present and certainly bullying cannot thrive where adults take action. We need to support our young people; we need to educate ourselves and we need to model good behavior."
Various orgnanizations attended the event and provided information and discussion to parents and other members of the community to help educate them on bullying topics.
The Morse Institute Library, where the conference was held, provided attendees with a reading list of anti-bullying topics for students in kindergarten through grade 12. Representatives from various organizations were in attendance to discuss the growing trend of cyberbullying and how to keep kids safe. Members from the Natick Police Department, the Youth Substance Abuse Initiative, and Gay Straight Alliance were also among the groups educating conference-goers. Representatives from provided information on positive coaching and parenting.
"I can honestly say by far that Natick is going to be the safest community in the Commonwealth, said superintendent of schools Peter Sanchioni, "and so I applaud all of you for your effort, and your work with children; it makes a difference."