CHESTER, NJ — October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and the West Morris Regional School District is getting students involved in stomping out bullying.
Both West Morris Regional high schools will take part in The Week of Respect Oct. 7-11, “an annual week of awareness, education and action around harassment, intimidation and bullying in New Jersey public schools.” During this week, schools across the state will provide anti-bullying education to students, as required by the state Anti-Bullying Bill Of Rights.
Anti-Bullying Club (Project Peace) at WMCHS has conducted Week of Kindness and Week of Respect activities in the past. There is also a Project peace club at WMMHS.
Schools in New Jersey have some of the toughest anti-bullying regulations in the country, under the Anti-Bullying Bill Of Rights. Schools are required to report all instances of harassment, intimidation and bullying (known as HIB incidents), and provide detailed information about their bullying statistics.
For the 2015-2016 school year, which was the most recently available data, the West Morris Regional School District reported four HIB incidents, two at each high school. Two of those were based on disability, one on ancestry and one on origin. All four cases were verbal.
In each of the four cases, the victim was given counseling. Three of the four bullies got individual counseling. The punishments varied: one received detention, the second received an in-school-suspension, the third had an out-of-school suspension, and the fourth received “other/none.”
Overall, WMRSD said it did a pretty good job handling HIB incidents, grading itself a 62, out of a possible 78 points.
The problem isn’t isolated to just New Jersey. National statistics vary, but an aggregate of 80 different studies on bullying suggests one in five American students between 12 and 18 is bullied at some point during their middle or high school years. Traditional bullying — name calling, public humiliation, isolation, physical violence and that sort of thing — occurs most often, with 35 percent of kids reporting they’ve been targeted in one of those ways. The studies cited by the PACER Center, which established National Bullying Prevention Month, show that 15 percent of kids surveyed report being cyberbullied.
Among the marquee National Bullying Prevention Month activities is Unity Day, observed on Wednesday, Oct. 24, when everyone is encouraged to wear and show orange to send a message that no child should ever experience bullying.
“Orange provides a powerful, visually compelling expression of solidarity,” Paula Goldberg, the executive director of the PACER Center, said in a statement. “Whether it’s hundreds of individuals at a school wearing orange, store owners offering orange products or a community changing a landmark to orange, the vibrant statement becomes a conversation starter, sending the supportive, universal message that bullying is never acceptable behavior.”
Here’s more about Unity Day:
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Laws In New Jersey
Although New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill Of Rights is one of the strictest anti-bullying laws in the nation, we could soon see the laws become even more stringent.
“Mallory’s Law,”which aims to strengthen the current laws by forcing parental involvement, was recently approved unanimously by the State Senate.
Under the new bill, parents could face civil liabilities if they show “blatant disregard of supervising their child, [or] if their child has been judged to be delinquent of harassment or cyber harassment,” a press release says, and parents would be subject to anti-bullying education classes.
The reporting and notification process for bullying incidents would be expanded: any accounts of bullying would be sent to the executive county superintendent and the parents of any students involved.
Any student found guilty of bullying would have the incident placed on their permanent record. After three proven bullying incidents, a student and their parents would be required to attend an anti-bullying training session, and law enforcement would be notified to see if any crimes were committed.
With reporting by Deb Belt and Katie Kausch, Patch Staff
Published at Tue, 08 Oct 2019 16:05:03 +0000