Bullying and Cyber-Bullying Prevention Public Forum, November 29, 2012

The Solanco School District greatly appreciates the strong community turnout, and participation, in the Bullying andCyber-Bullying Prevention Public Forum held at Solanco High School on November 29. Solanco School District administrators, the PA Attorney General’s Office, Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas Judge Len Brown, and others provided informative presentations on this important topic.  “We know that bullying has a negative impact on a student’s performance in school,” said Solanco Superintendent Dr. Martin Hudacs. “We need to address this problem as a community so that our students feel safe and supported.”

The community forum, provided by the Solanco School District and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, provided information on how to identify when a child has been bullied (or has intimidated others), the legal aspects of bullying and cyber-bullying, and a variety of resources available to better protect children from this serious problem.

The implications of bullying have been well documented. Research shows that bullying has a negative impact on a student’s performance in school through feelings of anger, isolation, school absenteeism, and depression, potentially resulting in acts of retaliation or suicide. We also know that bullying, particularly cyber bullying, is becoming a more prevalent problem that we cannot ignore.

The forum featured Craig LeCadre, special agent for education and outreach from the Attorney General’s office; the Honorable Len Brown, judge in Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas, Marisa Seubert, prevention coordinator for Compass Mark, Mrs. Kay Bandy, Clermont Elementary Principal, and Mrs. Jennifer Pearson, Swift Middle School guidance counselor.  The PowerPoint presentations from the forum are available via a link on this page.

The video Sticks and Stones was particularly poignant as it described two scenarios related to the consequences of  bullying.   The video is available for viewing on the PAcast website:  www.pacast.com  (click on PRODUCTIONS, and then look for video entitled STICKS AND STONES.)

Some important “take-aways” from the forum:

  • Parents are the first teachers of the children.  The examples demonstrated for conflict management, personal interactions, and personal responsibility are critical in determining how a child will react to others.
  • Parents need to be vigilant of their children’s behavior as both tell-tale signs of being targeted by bullies as well as tell-tale signs of being a bully.
  • Technology has made bullying and harassing behavior more pervasive; that is, there is not getting away from the technology and social media that is so integrated into our children’s life.  Also, anything that gets posted last forever.  Deleting the post does not remove it from the internet.
  • There are many pro-active programs and responses in place right now in all of the Solanco Schools.  Any student who feels they are being bullied is encouraged to bring it to the attention of their teacher, counselor or school principal.
  • If the bullying occurs outside of school (as cyber bullying often does), the school may not be able to respond with consequences or discipline for the bully, but guidance counselors and administrators can help the student being bullied to address the problem.  Sometimes that would involve mediation, and sometimes that may mean helping the student articulate to the police what is occurring.
  • There are resources available from many organizations, both online and in hard copy, for parents to access to help them.  (Many of these resources are found on the documents on this page: PowerPoints from presentation and Resource Guide.)
  • In many cases parents are paying the bill for the cell phone plan or internet, and they need to recognize that any improper use of the phone or computer will have their name on the subpoena to collect the data.  Parents have a vested interest in knowing exactly how their children are using the technology.
  • Parents need to be very aware of what their children are doing online.  Computers should be in high traffic areas, parents should know who their children’s Facebook friends are, and parents should not be afraid to ask students to share the information with them.

Following are links to Powerpoint presentations provided during the November 29 public forum. In addition, there are links to very important information for parents and all community members, including  bullying and cyber-bullying fact sheets, a toolkit, and other resources that are available on how to identify, prevent, and stop bullying:

Cyber Bullying Recognizing the signs and identifying the tools (pp)

Bullying Facts (CDC)

Psychological and Physical Impacts of Bullying by Compass Mark (pp)

Legal Aspects of Bullying (pp)

Bullying – A Proactive, Preventative Approach (pp)

Pennsylvania Bullying Prevention Toolkit

Resources for Parents