Students at the middle school received an important lesson Thursday from administrators on the seriousness of bullying and why it is so important for them to understand what it means and what the consequences are.
Principal Linda Simmons was joined by Dr. Nicole Fried, the district’s anti-bullying coordinator, guidance counselor Kerrie O’Hagan and Barbara Christianson, student assistance counselor to remind the students in the sixth grade about school codes of conduct, rules of the school and to have respect for each other and their school property. Seventh and eighth grade classes also met with the administrators earlier in the day.
Students were reminded of the important rules of their school and why they must respect themselves, each other and their school property.
Dr. Fried explained to the students that it’s to make sure that bullying does not happen in Hasbrouck Heights schools. She went over the definition of bullying reminding them that the state and the school see bullying as “any gensture, written, verbal, physical act or electronic communication that is motivated by race/color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental, physical or sensory disability or any distinguishing characteristics.”
In many cases when there is a conflict between two students it is likely considered a fight which means there is a give and take between both parties such as arguments and disagreements but bullying is a one sided confrontation with a purposeful vicious intent of which the victim did not ask to be a part of.
“Do you have to like everyone in your class? No. But if you don’t like someone leave them alone. Don’t seek them out and don’t pick on them,” O’Hagan explained.
Bullying can occur on school grounds, school functions, school buses and even off school grounds. Administrators went over the importance of why students should be aware of how they can harm someone via cyberbullying which is using electronic devices such as text messaging or Facebook to spread rumors or lines, create websites, videos or social media profiles that are designed to hurt or embarress another student. Although it occurs off school grounds the school administration could discipline a student for cyberbullying.
“Once you put it out there, it’s there. If someone saw it, you have a witness. If someone printed out, there’s evidence,” Fried pointed out.
Once a bullying complaint comes in the parents of the student accused of bullying will be immediately notified and then an investigation would follow, Fried explained so the students would understand the process of what could happen.
Administrators told students to not be afraid to ask for help if they become a victim of bullying and should talk to their parents, principals and teachers.
to continue to educate kids about bullying in order to prevent it from happening in the schools. The week of Oct. 3 will be Respect week in the district. An anti-bullying club has been started at the school and Fried encouraged students to join in.
On Oct. 18 the middle school students will hear from John Halligan who will give an emotional discussion the effects and consequences of bullying.