For a long time, many students in middle schools and high schools have dealt with a severe problem – bullying. With recent horrifying bullying events like the Tyler Clementi saga at Rutgers University, many are looking into ways to help stop the bullying problem.
Concerned parents and faculty in the Howell community came together on Tuesday evening at Howell Middle School North to address this very serious issue.
As part of that effort, a parent workshop on the perils of bullying was held in the media center of Middle School North. The workshop covered the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Law, presented by Howell Township School District’s Anti-Bullying Coordinator, Jeanna Corrigan, and cyber bullying, presented by Sgt. Chris Hill of the Howell Police Department.
Corrigan began the meeting explaining how the school district deals with circumstances of bullying. She noted that in the district with instances of bullying, interviews are held by a certified safety team with both the bully and those bullied. Information is then sent out to both party’s parents to further address the bullying situation.
She then continued to further explain issues of bullying, noting there are many individuals involved. Those involved in the situation include the offender, or the person doing the bullying, the target, who is the person being bullied, and bystanders.
Corrigan went on to note there are many different types of bullying, including physical, emotional, verbal and the ever-present cyber bullying. She explained sometimes people might not know when a normal conflict can turn into bullying, so she went in depth explaining the difference.
“Bullying is a repeated offense, whereas a normal conflict does not occur as often,” she said. “Also, those bullying usually show no remorse, while in normal conflicts, those individuals usually do feel remorseful.”
Ms. Corrigan concluded her part of the evening by telling parents what they can do to prevent bullying from occurring. She encouraged all parents to talk with their children, and asked them to brainstorm and practice anti-bullying strategies with their children.
Following Ms. Corrigan’s portion of the evening, Sgt. Hill took his turn presenting to those in attendance about the perils of cyber-bullying, as well as simply being safe while on the computer. He noted the key to helping end cyber-bullying, as well as keeping children safe on the computer, is bymonitoring children while they surf the web.
“It is important to limit computer access for children, you wouldn’t believe how many dangers are out there,” he said. Sgt. Hill added that even Google searches can turn up inappropriate results, even when searching places like the White House or famous individuals like Martin Luther King Jr.
Sgt. Hill also noted that harassment may not only be limited to computers, as there is also a great deal of bullying occurring via cellular phones as well.
“Anyone can send a text claiming to be anyone, so you have to be careful when sending and receiving texts,” he said.
Sgt. Hill then went on to talk about dangers teenagers face while on various social networking websites, like Facebook, Twitter and SecondLife.
“All these teenagers like to put up pictures with them at parties drinking out of those red little cups,” he said, acknowledging that pictures of students being drunk or inappropriate can come back to harm them in the long run.
He concluded by telling all parents to make sure their teenagers are safe on the computer, warning them that sometimes teenagers will have two Facebook profiles, one for their parents that is clean and appropriate, and one for their friends that is not as appropriate.
Sgt. Hill told parents in attendance if they thought their children were doing something inappropriate, or were being bullied, they would try to help them out, but they could not help if they were unaware of the situation.
“We will do the best we can to help you our, but we can’t help you if we don’t know what’s going on,” Sgt. Hill said.