Bully-proof: Schools create prevention plan

The Newtonite

by Samantha Libraty
To comply with the new anti-bullying laws passed in Massachusetts, the School Committee adopted a new anti-bullying curriculum that will be incorporated into classes and school-wide events throughout the year, according to Beals housemaster Michelle Stauss.
“The Newton Public Schools have programs in the elementary and middle schools addressing  bullying. However, even though some people are under the  impression that bullying behavior stops in high school, it is a relevant issue that we proactively address at this school,” she said.
The curriculum, which is called Bully-Proofing Your School, was chosen by a group of teachers, counselors and administrators from both high schools, Stauss said. It will be used to conduct classes in homerooms, she added.
Thursday marks the first of four extended homerooms for the delivery of the curriculum. The others will be Wednesday, Nov. 23, Thursday, Dec. 1 and Thursday, Jan. 26. In addition to teachers speaking about bullying, there will be two school-wide events on Friday, Oct. 14 and Monday, Oct. 17.
“With this curriculum, we are trying to strengthen this school’s environment to positively affect students and make the school a safe place for everyone,” Stauss said.
“Bullying occurs in every school, and instead of being bystanders and not preventing bullying, we want people to speak up and be involved. We want to go from a silent majority to a caring majority,” she added.
Over the summer, a steering committee made up of teachers, counselors and administrators from both schools discussed the ways this anti-bullying curriculum could be effectively used, Stauss said.
Along with Stauss, history teacher Gregory Drake, special education teachers Lisa Goldthwaite and David Turcotte, English teacher Michele Leong and guidance department head Beth Swederskas were all on the committee.
Stauss said, “Everyone at this school should be taking a stand against bullying. Research shows that when a student is bullied, he or she can’t focus in class, and both teaching and learning can be affected.
“Bullying has serious consequences. The program will positively impact the academic, social and emotional growth of our students.”