Bullying can take many forms (verbal, psychological and physical), and administrators for a district in New Jersey will participate in sensitivity training and devise a plan within the next two months to combat hazing at Millburn High School. These actions were ordered by the president of the Board of Education after a board meeting revealed that another school year started off with hazing of freshman girls by seniors that included being pushed into lockers, having whistles blown in their faces and the release of a â€œslut list.â€
In the past, some seniors have been expelled, but Principal William Miron said that no student will be disciplined without proof. Board member Debra Fox remembers being hazed as a freshman and suggested punishing the entire female population of the senior class in order to get the names, saying â€œbecause no one is going to take the rap for someone else.â€ One parent was applauded when she said parents must also take responsibility when their children acted like bullies.
Tragically, every day thousands of students wake up afraid to go to school. As educators, we have an inherent responsibility to make our schools safe, bully-free cultures because every child and teenager has the civil right to learn unhindered. Because parents, teachers, and other adults don’t always see it, they may not understand how extreme bullying can get. According to the web site, www.kidshealth.org, two of the main reasons people are bullied are because of appearance and social status. Bullies pick on the people they think don’t fit in, maybe because of how they look, how they act (for example, kids who are shy and withdrawn), their race or religion, or because the bullies think their target may be gay or lesbian.
Hazing is a form of bullying and often the result of underdeveloped emotional intelligence, or people smarts, such as empathy and compassion. LifeBoundâ€™s book, People Smarts for Teenagers: Becoming Emotionally Intelligent, helps students develop these skills by boosting self-awareness and empathy. Every chapter includes a real-life story about another teenager who overcame their own obstacles to emotional well-being. This past spring, a progressive district in Colorado Springs used this book with all of their sixth graders and observed a spike in test scores, which they attribute to this program. Learning is linked to emotions and when we teach children and teens emotional and social skills we give them another advantage in the learning process. For more information about this and other student success and transition resources, visit www.lifebound.com
The New York Times
September 22, 2009
Schools Official in New Jersey Orders Plan to Combat Hazing
By TINA KELLEY
MILLBURN, N.J. â€” The president of the Millburn Board of Education said on Monday night that district administrators would have to undergo sensitivity training and ordered them to come up with a plan within the next two months to address the longstanding tradition of hazing at Millburn High School.
The action came at a board meeting that drew about 50 parents and lasted more than three hours.
â€œThis is not acceptable behavior; it will not be tolerated,â€ the board president, Noreen Brunini, said of the most recent hazing, which included the distribution of an annual â€œslut listâ€ of incoming freshman girls. â€œThis is the end of this.â€
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