Mass Interview: Students, teachers discuss anti-bullying curriculum

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”file photo” align=”alignnone” width=”300″] Massachusetts state law mandates that all students spend 10 hours learning an anti-bullying curriculum.
by Gloria Li and Elena Schwartz

According to Massachusetts law, every person in this school is subject to 10 hours of anti-bullying curriculum every school year. Students and teachers share their opinions on the productivity of these lessons.

Freshman Erik Chen said that although teachers have taught students about anti-bullying curriculum since the fifth grade, “bullying around here hasn’t really been a problem.”

Freshman Caroline Kaler said, “the stories we heard were good, and the number of anti-bullying seminars we’re having now is a good amount.”

Sophomore Vanessa Ferré also believes the sessions are useful because they “make people more aware of their actions and what they are saying to other people in their day-to-day lives.”

While many students believe that teaching anti-bullying is important in theory, they think that the lessons themselves are not always effective. Sophomore Jonathan Gentile said, “I think kids don’t take the lessons seriously. If they really listened it could be effective, but people just joke around. They see it as a way to get out of class.”

Junior Deedee Elbieh agreed, saying, “People are goofing off and not being honest. That’s not productive.”

Junior Zoe Triantafilles echoed this sentiment and said, “They go for too long, and people lose focus.”

According to senior Niki Lew, part of the problem is that students do not believe that bullying is present in this school. She said, “People don’t think of themselves as bullies, so they don’t really take the meetings seriously. They don’t think anti-bullying applies to our school.”

Senior Neil Quigley said, “The anti-bullying curriculum, rather than preventing bullying, gives people a false sense of what bullying is.”

However, English teacher Nick Grant said, “Teaching anti-bullying is important and can be productive, but teachers should be given leeway to teach the curriculum as they see fit. I want to teach anti-bullying in a way that I buy into. Otherwise, it won’t have an impact.”