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Our Proactive Stance on Bullying
At Montessori Schoolhouse/Maria Montessori Elementary, we have always encouraged students to show their respect for their peers and teachers by using both kind words and actions. Our Human Values curriculum has as its primary focus, the development of self-respect and respect for others. We have always taken a proactive approach to the problem of bullying. It is far preferable to prevent bullying before it happens than to deal with the consequences after the fact. Now, both national and worldwide attention has also turned to the problem of bullying in schools and the often devastating effect it has on both victims and bullies.
Section 32051 of the California Education Code states "The commission of any act that is likey to cause bodily danger, physical harm or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to a fellow student or person attending the school is a misdemeanor". Bullying can be physical or psychological abuse and consists of "repeated harmful acts and an imbalance of power", according to a Dept. of Justice Study. Bullying affects the student's sense of security and self-worth. The victim may not feel safe to come to school and need the assistance of parents and teachers to restore his/her sense of security. The bully may be dealing with emotional challenges and need active intervention to prevent further incidents. In both instances, the school is the front line for combating bullying and its effects. We take this responsibility very seriously, and our anti-bullying program revolves around what the National School Safety Center calls "the three R's of bullying prevention":
- Rules- Parents and educators will demonstrate that they will not tolerate a student harming another student physically or psychologically.
- Rights - every student has the right not to be hurt by others and feel safe at school.
- Responsibility - Students will respect the rights of their classmates and themselves and report any incidents of bullying immediately. Educators will take active roles in preventing bullying by addressing this issue as a part of the Human Values program and teaching strategies for dealing with and reporting bullies. Educators will also intervene and inform the administration immediately when they witness incidents of bullying. Parents will quickly inform the school if their child has been involved in an incident of bullying so that we can take measures to prevent a reoccurrence and provide appropriate consequences.
We have always had a "no tolerance" policy for bullying, when we are aware of it. However, students have not always felt comfortable reporting it to us. In the past, we have often had to deal with the attitude that "boys will be boys" or been told that victims should "learn to be tough and take it" when they are teased or mistreated. Now, throughout the country, there is a climate in which bullying is considered an unacceptable behavior and the reporting of it, by victims and witnesses, is strongy encouraged. This rise in the national consciousness has fostered an "intolerance of intimidation" and we are no longer alone in addressing this issue.
Because we are educating young children, we know that their "bullying" is often the result of frustration, impulsiveness or thoughtlessness rather than cruelty. If we can address these issues early and provide the children with tools for handling anger, thinking before speaking or acting, and being empathetic when dealing with others, it is our hope that we can provide a learning environment in which each and every child feels secure and loved.
We also want children to know how to not be victimized and to be armed with strategies which will empower them if they are being bullied. We want them to know that it is ok to speak up, to tell and to ask for help when dealing with a bully. It does not mean you are a "tattler" or that you are "weak". It means that you are smart and know how to stay safe. We appreciate your support in our effort to create a safe and supportive school environment for the children of Maria Montessori Schoolhouse/Maria Montessori Elementary.