Great News for Parents of Children in Manitowoc Public Schools!
Do you ever wonder what is being done in our school district to promote mutual respect among our children? We recently asked MPSD administrators and guidance staff to share what programs or activities are currently taking place to possibly help reduce bullying and harassment in our schools.
Though information below is not implemented in every school in the same manner, administrators, staff, and students are invited to work together to promote a positive climate of respect and kindness. Some activities or programs are presented daily, weekly, monthly, or once per year.
Programs And Activities Presented May Include:
At the Elementary Level
Ø Steps to Success - - A researched based program presented in guidance lessons presented by guidance staff twice a month
Ø Special events planned by administrators, guidance staff and/or teachers to promote empathy and understanding between classmates
At the Secondary Level
Ø WEB Program (Where Everybody Belongs) for incoming 7th graders
Ø Above the Influence Group
Ø Bullying and harassment in-service for all 7th graders at the beginning of the year
Ø Cyber-bullying presentation is given to students by resource officer
Ø Assistant principal visits each classroom the first week of school to give a brochure to students advising them on what to do if they feel they are being bullied or harassed
Ø Staff Respect committee meets on a weekly basis to brainstorm ideas to promote respect for one’s self and others
Ø Locked drop boxes are located around the school which are checked on a daily basis for students to submit bullying concerns anonymously
Ø Staff wear “Be the Change” t-shirts once per week
Ø Two day field trip for 8th graders filled with cooperative activities
Ø A weekly quote is placed on a bulletin board in each classroom encouraging respect and kindness
Ø Circle Training
Ø Haiti Hair Day; Mix It Up Day = students are requested to sit by someone new in the cafeteria; Mini-Course Day – students with like interests are brought together
Ø “Be the Change Challenge Day” takes place once per year. This award winning program for teens promotes compassion and respect in schools and communities. If you are interested in learning more about this program please visit www.challengeday.org.
Much effort is taking place in our schools to help promote understanding and acceptance; however, there is always room for improvement. Parents of MPSD/Academic Boosters Committee is currently investigating the possibility of helping our schools expand programs such as “Be the Change Challenge Day.” We are also interested in working with administrators and guidance staff to invite new individuals or groups to our schools. We will keep parents informed via this web-site as developments occur. We invite you to get involved and become an active member of our organization. By joining together, parents, school staff, and students help to create a climate of empathy and respect.
DO YOU BELIEVE YOUR CHILD IS BEING BULLIED?
DO YOU THINK YOUR CHILD IS A BULLY?
What is bullying?
The Manitowoc Public School Board Policy 5517.01, found on the MPSD website under District Information, Board of Education, Board of Education Policies states:
“Bullying is deliberate or intentional behavior using word or actions, intended to cause fear, intimidation, or harm. Bullying may be a repeated behavior and involves an imbalance of power. Furthermore, it may be serious enough to negatively impact a student's educational, physical, or emotional well being. The behavior may be motivated by an actual or perceived distinguishing characteristic, such as, but not limited to: age; national origin; race; ethnicity; religion; gender; gender identity; sexual orientation; physical attributes; physical or mental ability or disability; and social, economic, or family status; however this type of bullying behavior need not be based on any of the legally protected characteristics. It includes, but is not necessarily limited to such behaviors as stalking, cyberbullying, intimidating, menacing, coercing, name-calling, taunting, making threats, and hazing.
What does this mean?
Bullying is different from the routine conflicts of childhood. It is intentional behavior that is meant to hurt and dominate another person. Characterized by an imbalance of power between the child who bullies and the target, bullying can be physical, verbal, emotional (social), or sexual. It includes harassment via e-mail, text messaging, and instant messaging.
What are some examples of bullying?
From The Manitowoc Public School Board Policy # 5517.01 examples of bullying are:
A. Physical – hitting, kicking, spitting, pushing, pulling, taking and/or damaging personal belongings or extorting money, blocking or impeding student movement, unwelcome physical contact.
B. Verbal – taunting, malicious teasing, insulting, name calling, making threats.
C. Psychological – spreading rumors, manipulating social relationships, coercion, or engaging in social exclusion/shunning, extortion, or intimidation.
D. "Cyberbullying" – the use of information and communication technologies such as e-mail, cell phone and pager text messages, instant messaging (IM), defamatory personal web sites, and defamatory online personal polling web sites, to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.
The Board recognizes that cyberbullying can be particularly devastating to young people because:
1. cyberbullies more easily hide behind the anonymity that the Internet provides;
2. cyberbullies spread their hurtful messages to a very wide audience with remarkable speed;
3. cyberbullies do not have to own their own actions, as it is usually very difficult to identify cyberbullies because of screen names, so they do not fear being punished for their actions; and
4. the reflection time that once existed between the planning of a prank – or a serious stunt – and its commission has all but been erased when it comes to cyberbullying activity.
Cyberbullying includes, but is not limited to the following:
1. posting slurs or rumors or other disparaging remarks about a student on a web site or on weblog;
2. sending e-mail or instant messages that are mean or threatening, or so numerous as to drive-up the victim’s cell phone bill;
3. using a camera phone to take and send embarrassing photographs of students;
4. posting misleading or fake photographs of students on web sites.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOUR CHILD TELLS YOU HE OR SHE IS BEING BULLIED?
It is important that you approach this situation in a calm manner and that you keep records of facts in the situation. It is helpful if you and school staff work together to resolve the issue.
I. Work With Your Child
Thank your child for telling you. Tell your child that the bullying is not his or her fault. Talk with your child about the specifics of the situation and ask:
- Who is doing the bullying?
- What happened? Was it
o Verbal bullying?
o Physical bullying?
- What days and times were you bullied?
- Where did the bullying take place?
Also find out how your child responded to the bullying and if other children or adults might have observed the bullying. Does your child know the names of these people? Keep a written record of this information.
Practice possible ways for your child to respond to bullying.
II. Contact the School Principal or District Administrator
The Manitowoc Public School Board Policy 5517.01 states: “Any student that believes s/he has been or is the victim of bullying should immediately report the situation to the building principal or assistant principal, or the District Administrator.”
Write a letter to the school principal or assistant principal or the District Superintendent. The names and addresses of these people can be found on the MPSD web site.
The letter can serve two purposes.
o First, the letter will alert school administration of the bullying and your desire for interventions against the bullying.
o Second, the letter can serve as your written record when referring to events. The record (letter) should be factual and absent of opinions or emotional statements.
Here is a letter you may use:
RE: ____________________ (first and last name of child)
Dear ___________________, (name of Principal)
My child, _____________, (first name of child) is in the _____ (grade level) at ____________________ (name of school). At school ______ (s/he) has been bullied and harassed by __________________________ (name of harasser(s)). This has occurred on _____________ (date or approximate period of time) when __________________________ (describe as many details of the incident(s) as can be recalled). When this happened _________________ (name of witness(es)) heard or saw it and _______________________ (their response(s)). We became aware of this incident when __________________________ (describe how you were notified).
_____________, (first name of child) was hurt by this bullying and harassment. _______ (She/He) had ____________________________________________________________ (describe physical injuries, emotional suffering and any medical or psychological treatment required these may include:
o Does not want to come to school
o Is fearful he or she will be hurt
o Complains of stomach aches, headaches, etc.
o Has other new behavior as a result of bullying).
_____ (Our/My) child has the right to be in a safe environment at school so _____ (s/he) can learn.
Please investigate this problem and correct it as soon as possible. Please let ______ (me/us) know, in writing, of the actions you have taken to rectify the situation and to ensure it does not happen again. I expect a response within 5 business days.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this serious problem.
(Sign and keep a copy for your records)
Please be sure to keep a copy of the letter(s) for your records. These records can help parents keep a concise, accurate timeline of events.
What should happen once the letter has been sent to the principal vice-principal or the Superintendent?
According to The Manitowoc Public School Board Policy 5517.01, “A written record of the report, including all pertinent details, will be made by the recipient of the report. All complaints about behavior that may violate this policy shall be investigated promptly by the building principal. The staff member who is investigating the report of bullying shall interview the victim(s) of the alleged bullying and collect whatever other information is necessary to determine the facts and the seriousness of the report.
Parents and/or guardians of each student involved in the bullying report will be notified prior to the conclusion of the investigation. The District shall maintain the confidentiality of the report and any related student records to the extent required by law.
If the investigation finds that bullying has occurred, it will result in prompt and appropriate remedial and/or disciplinary action. This may include student discipline, including, but not limited to reprimand, suspension, or possible expulsion. Further, the result of an investigation that finds that bullying has occurred may result in discharge for employees, exclusion for parents, guests, volunteers, and contractors, and removal from any official position and/or a request to resign for Board members. Individuals may also be referred to law enforcement officials.”
What does this mean?
1. The person you sent the letter to should investigate the issues you raise in the letter.
2. That information should be given to the building principal, if you didn’t send the letter to the principal. If you sent the principal the letter that person should investigate the issues.
3. The principal is the person who will have final say about the bullying issue.
4. The building principal should contact you prior to the conclusion of the investigation. If you have any concerns about the investigation, talk about it with the principal. If you believe the principal is not listening to you or you have other complaints against the building principal your issues should be written in a letter and sent to the Superintendent. Complaints against the Superintendent should be filed with the School Board President.
5. If the principal feels there was bullying, prompt action should be taken. The policy does not say how long but if it has taken over a month since your original letter, contact the building principal. It is important to document when you called the principal and what you talked about. This will help you if there are problems.
6. The action may include student discipline, including, but not limited to reprimand, suspension, or possible expulsion. It also may result in discharge for employees, exclusion for parents, guests, volunteers, and contractors, and removal from any official position and/or a request to resign for Board members. Individuals may also be referred to law enforcement officials.
7. If there is retaliation against you or your child because of reporting bullying, again write a letter to the principal, vice-principal or the superintendent and tell them your concerns.
What if you are still not happy with the outcome?
1. Contact the building principal once again. If you are still not happy then
2. Contact the Superintendent once again. If you are still not happy then
3. Contact the School Board President.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU FEEL YOUR CHILD IS THE BULLY?
If your child is bullying, take heart. There’s a lot you can do to help correct the problem. Remember, bullying is a learned behavior—and it can be “unlearned.” By talking with your child and seeking help, you can teach your child more appropriate ways of handling feelings, peer pressure, and conflicts.
If you see these traits in your child or hear from others that your child is bullying, you may want to look into the issue. The traits may include:
• be quick to blame others and unwilling to accept responsibility for their actions
• lack empathy, compassion, and understanding for others’ feelings
• be bullied themselves
• have immature social and interpersonal skills
• want to be in control
• be frustrated and anxious
• come from families where parents or siblings bully
• find themselves trying to fit in with a peer group that encourages bullying
• have parents who are unable to set limits, are inconsistent with discipline, do not provide supervision, or do not take an interest in their child’s life.
Help your child to stop bullying
1. Talk with your child. Find out why he or she is bullying others. You might explore how your child is feeling about himself or herself, ask if he or she is being bullied by someone else, and invite discussion about bullying. Find out if your child’s friends are also bullying. Ask how you can help.
2. Confirm that your child’s behavior is bullying and not the result of a disability. Sometimes, children with disabilities bully other children. Other times, children with certain behavioral disorders or limited social skills may act in ways that are mistaken for bullying. Whether the behavior is intentional bullying or is due to a disability, it still needs to be addressed. If your child with a disability is bullying, you may want to include bullying prevention goals in his or her Individualized Education Program (IEP).
3. Teach empathy, respect, and compassion. Children who bully often lack awareness of how others feel. Try to understand your child’s feelings, and help your child appreciate how others feel when they are bullied. Let your child know that everyone has feelings and that feelings matter.
4. Make your expectations clear. Let your child know that bullying is not okay under any circumstances and that you will not tolerate it. Take immediate action if you learn that he or she is involved in a bullying incident.
5. Provide clear, consistent consequences for bullying. Be specific about what will happen if the bullying continues. Try to find meaningful consequences, such as loss of privileges or a face-to-face meeting with the child being bullied.
6. Teach by example. Model nonviolent behavior and encourage cooperative, noncompetitive play. Help your child learn different ways to resolve conflict and deal with feelings such as anger, insecurity, or frustration. Teach and reward appropriate behavior.
7. Role play. Help your child practice different ways of handling situations. You can take turns playing the part of the child who does the bullying and the one who is bullied. Doing so will help your child understand what it’s like to be in the other person’s shoes.
8. Provide positive feedback. When your child handles conflict well, shows compassion for others, or finds a positive way to deal with feelings, provide praise and recognition. Positive reinforcement goes a long way toward improving behavior. It is more effective than punishment.
9. Be realistic. It takes time to change behavior. Be patient as your child learns new ways of handling feelings and conflict. Keep your love and support visible.
10. Seek help. Your child’s doctor, teacher, school principal, school social worker, or a psychologist can help you and your child learn how to understand and deal with bullying behavior. Ask if your school offers a bullying prevention program. Bullying hurts everyone.
Parents can play a significant role in stopping the behavior, and the rewards will be immeasurable for all.
Information found on the PACER website http://www.PACER.org