Tag Archives: anti bullying bulletin boards

Can kids be taught character? Anti-bullying lessons a focus at Clarendon School

26 Feb

MODELING GOOD CHARACTER – Left to right: Student government advisor Felicia Maloney and Anti-Bullying Specialist Dawn Doering stand in front of character education posters that feature positive messages and students from Clarendon.


PARENT INVOLVEMENT – Anti-Bullying Specialist and Guidance Counselor Dawn Doering has parents involved in creating anti-bullying bulletin boards.


HAVE YOU FILLED YOUR BUCKET? – Anti-bullying Specialist and Guidance Counselor Dawn Doering will lead a new character education project that teaches students to be good citizens by filling a “bucket” with acts of kindness.


CREATING A PSA – Students from fifth grade teacher and Media Club advisor Marietta Amato’s class participated in the creation of a PSA about bullying.


BULLY BUSTER LESSONS – First grade teacher Connie Boruch reminds educators every month which Bully Buster lesson they are on.


The hallways of Clarendon Elementary School are full of posters displaying the school’s students, along with messages such as, “Respect and trust build friendships,” and “Never give up.”

Are these attempts at character-building making a difference?

“The kids are getting excited because they are looking for themselves [in the hallways],” said special education teacher Felicia Maloney last week. “The kids stop and see themselves but then they read the messages.”

A teacher at Clarendon of 29 years and advisor to the student government, Maloney last fall photographed every student whose parents signed a release form. She said Principal Pat Cocucci initiated the project. It’s part of a broader collaborative effort related to character education and anti-bullying coordinated by Maloney, Guidance Counselor Dawn Doering, first grade teacher Connie Boruch, and fifth grade teacher Marietta Amato.

Building character

“We have been doing character education for at least five or six years in Clarendon,” said Boruch. An educator of 25 years, she is on the “anti-bullying team.”

Character education consists of six pillars: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. Students have also come up with suggestions for quotes and ideas for the posters.

Secaucus is part of the Hudson County Consortium for Emotional Social Learning. The consortium promotes individual student well-being, safety and security, and works to improve climate and culture. Boruch said that the educators at Clarendon have been successful in establishing a positive social and emotional climate at the school because students feel safe, are happy and look out for one another.


“We want to get to the point when kids come to school and there is no bullying.” – Connie Boruch.


School conducts ‘bullying investigations’

Boruch said the character education work includes anti-bullying lessons that have come about as a result of statewide anti-bullying legislation passed two years ago. The Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying law establishes a framework to support the prevention, remediation, and reporting of bullying in schools across the state among other policies.

“The hardest part is knowing what is bullying and knowing what is normal conflict,” said Boruch. She said that everyone at Clarendon was trained by the NJ State Bar Association and received what are called Bully Buster Lessons. Educators teach a Bully Buster Lesson every month at their grade level. The first lesson teaches about the distinctions between bullying and normal conflict.

“Arguing is not necessarily bullying,” said Boruch. She said that the law states that bullying happens for a specific reason and is discriminatory.

Clarendon has had less than five bullying investigations in the past year.

“We get an incident report and we investigate if someone believes it is bullying,” said Doering. An educator of 15 years, she is the school’s anti-bullying specialist. “Nothing has been found to be actual bullying.” Doering said the key is prevention.

“I talk to a lot of kids everyday. They get it. They know the difference between what is bullying and what is conflict.”

Amato teaches the fifth grade and is the advisor to the media club. She has been a teacher for 15 years. She said that anti-bullying lessons come up every day.

“There is always discussion. There are always teachable moments,” said Amato. Amato led the media club in creating a public service announcement about bullying. She said the group used role-play to demonstrate what bullying is.

Recognizing kindness too

Clarendon last year held an anti-bullying rally and took an anti-bullying pledge. The kids also performed plays and skits.

Boruch said that since the school has a good grasp on knowing not to bully, they have moved on to looking at positive messages and actions.

“We are moving away from the negatives and into the positives,” said Boruch.

She said that children are rewarded for acts of kindness and acts of charity.

“Two kindergarten girls last year…were picking up garbage in the playground every morning,” said Boruch who noticed the girls early in the mornings before school began. She made a point of recognizing their effort.

‘Fill a Bucket’

Next academic school year, Doering will launch a new character education program called “Fill a Bucket.” Filling a bucket has to do with being a good citizen who cares for and respects others. Educators will encourage students to be helpful, unselfish, and compassionate. Buckets represent a child’s emotional well-being. A full bucket equals happiness while an empty bucket equals sadness. Bucket “fillers” are individuals who are helpful, kind, caring, and spread love and compassion. Bucket “dippers” are individuals who rob others of their happiness by acting negatively.

Boruch said “We want to get to the point when kids come to school and there is no bullying.”


Bullying Bulletin Board: Handling your own emotions when your child is bullied – Macon Chronicle

19 May

Were you bullied at school as a child? If so, learning that your own child has been bullied may generate a groundswell of feeling that you have a hard time controlling. Even if you were never a target yourself, you may feel angry, vulnerable, frustrated, helpless and overwhelmed. It can be hard to control these feelings. 

Does it matter if you control your own feelings about this matter? It does. “Taking over the room” emotionally – dominating the room with your own feelings – puts you in the center and takes focus away from your child. Thinking and controlling your emotional reactions, on the other hand, can help your child resolve hers, too. 

So how can you help yourself resolve your own feelings? What will make you feel better? 

The first rule is to make sure, before becoming upset, that you’re dealing with a genuine bullying episode. Many episodes of meanness between children involve brief, transient, and less serious behaviors. Sometimes your child may be suffering from inadvertent meanness – such as when they’re not invited to a friend’s birthday party. It can be helpful not to over interpret these kinds of events. However popular your child is, I can promise you that there will be birthday parties that he or she won’t be invited to. Try not to take it personally when this happens. Most children simply cannot invite the entire third grade to their party, or even every one of their friends!

Another important thing to remember is that children tend to call everything “bullying.” They’ve picked up on the fact that adults sit up and panic when that word is uttered, and they know that this is a great way to get your attention. Is the incident a repeated, targeted, intentional attack from a more powerful child? If so, it could be bullying – but if it’s one-time, accidental, or not from a more powerful child, then generally it isn’t bullying. It’s still a problem, but a different kind of problem.

It’s also useful to remember that however much the incident is impacting YOU emotionally, it may not be impacting your child the same way. In our research, we’ve found that more than 20 percent of incidents are classified by victims as not upsetting at all, or as only very mildly upsetting.  The key is to make sure that you have every single fact straight, and to ask how your child feels about what happened. 

All right, so you’ve spoken with length with your child and you feel sure that this is truly a bullying situation.  Now comes a hard part: being sympathetic and sensitive with your child, while not escalating the emotional temperature of the incident. Ranting and raving about the unfairness of it all will only make your child sorry that they told you. But taking them on your lap or in your arms for a cuddle and a long talk will help both of you handle it better emotionally.

Dr. Elizabeth Englander is the director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University. Do you have situations or questions you’d like addressed? Email them to bullyingbb@gmail.com.


Bullying Bulletin Board: Help when your child is being cyberbullied

19 Apr

Bullying has always been a school issue, so it’s logical to turn to our child’s school for help if our child is being cyberbullied. But is the school the right place to turn?

When a child is cyberbullying another child, most of the time, the cyberbullying originates from that child’s home – not from school. The cyberbully may use text messaging or their parents’ computer to post cruel or attacking statements, photos or profiles online. Critically, the cyberbullying isn’t actually happening in school; it’s happening outside of school. 

That fact has some big legal implications. In 1969, the United States Supreme Court restricted the reach of school discipline by ruling, in effect, that unless an out-of-school incident has a “substantial” impact upon the school, then school administrators cannot discipline an off-campus incident.

So does it make sense to go to your child’s school if your child is being cyberbullied? The answer, actually, is both yes and no.   

First, there are steps you can take on your own. If your child is being cyberbullied, be certain to report the incident(s) to the website that’s involved. This is usually done through clicking on an “abuse” or “report” button or link. If you can’t find such a button or link (and they’re not always easy to find), click the CONTACT US link. If even that isn’t visible, send an email to abuse@whateverwebsite.com, and that should accomplish the same thing.

Second, if the cyberbullying involves threats of violence, abuse or blackmail, notify the police. 

Third, even if you believe that your child is only being bullied in cyberspace and not in school, it makes good sense to let the school personnel know about the situation. In my research, we’ve found that most students tell us that bullying tends to happen in both places, rather than in one or the other (at least at the high school level). Also, if other students begin to talk about the cyberbullying, important information could be revealed. If the cyberbullying is known, school adults may be able to help educate them about engaging in risky online behaviors. 

Finally, your child’s school counselor, teacher, and/or principal can play a key role in supporting and helping your child get through the school day. Even if the online bullying hasn’t spilled over into school, your child may feel uncomfortable at school and may wonder if others are watching him or her to gauge a reaction to the online abuse. 

Sometimes an educator’s response will sound dismissive; they may remind you that they cannot discipline a cyberbully. Don’t be discouraged; make it clear that you are seeking support for your child who is the target of the online bully’s abuse. 

Educators can be directed to the Guide to Cyberbullying for School Administrators, found on the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center website, http://www.MARCcenter.org. That publication has many useful tips.

Dr. Elizabeth Englander is the director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University. Do you have situations or questions you’d like addressed? E-mail them to bullyingbb@gmail.com.