Anti-Bullying Programs Eyed for Schools

During the May 12 sub-committee meeting, the Winthrop School Committee and school principals discussed the establishment of anti-bullying programs throughout Winthrop Public Schools (WPS). Each of the school’s anti-bullying committees meets to discuss the implementation and reduction of bullying, and education of students on how to report and address behaviors.

“We’ve been working very hard this past year involving raising the level of our anti-bullying programs and initiating for next year,” said Maryalice Sharkey, School Committee member.

Winthrop High School (WHS) Principal Matthew Crombie explained the importance of having Winthrop Police Detective Dawn Armistead to support issues through mediation, following practices of bullying protocol. Crombie hopes to bring back the advisory period to use for the bullying program. The meetings will occur once a month for 30-45 min., with 10-15 students per advisor.

There is an anti-bullying committee of five to 10 students who meet each Friday, initiating campaigns, and raising awareness.

Harbor COV (Communities Overcoming Violence), a program that provides safety and support for survivors of domestic violence, is also offering help for students to cope with and report their experiences.

Winthrop High School will be blocking harmful sites from being accesses on students’ iPads, and will be listing those websites for parents.

Principal Ryan Heraty described the anti-bullying curriculum at the Cummings Elementary School. Only portions of the faculty have been trained in Second Step, a bullying prevention unit that sets a foundation for social and academic success. Some of the individuals who have replaced retired teachers have not been given the professional development yet.

The Cummings itinerary includes anti-bullying educational activities, daily homeroom lessons, visits by the District Attorney’s Office about cyber bullying, and dialogues about the consequences for children who continue to bully.

“The most important thing is when you have an individual who has power over another. That’s when real bullying begins,” said Sharkey. “It’s hard for kids to understand that, especially if they’re the target.”

Gorman Fort Banks Principal Ilene Pearson continues to use the Second Step program to help students make friends and manage emotions.

“It is to encourage kids to solve problems and to support each other,” Sharkey said.

The kindergarten team is using the Teaching Strategies GOLD assessment system to measure students’ learning growth involving how to handle their emotions and behaviors, and how to sustain positive relationships.

An adjustment counselor provides classroom lessons with topics such as calming down strategies, conflict resolution, and learning how to read social cues.

All schools will provide a monthly itinerary of their anti-bullying programs starting in the 2015-2016 school year.

“That will be a positive thing for us as the School Committee to see what’s going on. We’ll have a record,” said Sharkey. “And also, if any educational component comes to our buildings, we will have factual information that we can share with them that shows what we are doing as a school system.”

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