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November 26, 2012

Board adopts plan to deal with bullying

WEST NEWBURY — The Pentucket Regional School Committee recently adopted a 17-page bullying prevention and intervention plan, bringing the district in synch with a new zero tolerance policy on bullying and cyberbullying at the state level.

The comprehensive plan identifies the six building principals as primarily responsible for oversight of the anti-bullying strategy within their individual schools.

The policy establishes methods for preventing, intervening, and responding to incidents of bullying, cyberbulling and retaliation. It takes “specific steps to create a safe, supportive environment” for vulnerable populations within the school community such as students who have disabilities, who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or who are homeless. And it aims to provide “all students with skills, knowledge, and strategies to prevent or respond to bullying, harassment or teasing.”

The plan governs bullying on school grounds, at the bus stop and at school-sponsored events. It also covers harassement that occurs out of school via technology or an electronic device “if the act creates a hostile environment at school for the target or witnesses, infringes on their rights at school, or materially or substantially disrupts the education process of the orderly operation of a school.”

Pentucket employees will participate in ongoing professional development to better identify “tell-tale signs of bullying” and to understand its long-term impact on students and the school community. The goal is “to create a school climate that promotes safety, civil communication, and respect for differences,” the policy states.

Educationally, the aim is to empower students to take appropriate action when they witness acts of bullying or retaliation, including those that occur through social media interactions. Through the Bullying Prevention Curricula, skills for empathy, impulse control, problem solving and anger management are enhanced as students learn to engage in healthy relationships communication that respects diversity and differences.

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