Editorial: Bullying meetings very important

Sixteen years of teaching will convince anyone that bullying is everywhere.

It’s in every school, in the classrooms, in the hallways, in the locker rooms, and on the Internet. It can leave scars that will last a lifetime and create patterns of behavior that lead to a lafe-long pattern of bullying.

It’s not just the kids, you know. Almost any one of us can tell a story about being bullied. We see the stories in the newspapers every day, and we hear them from our friends.

That’s why it’s so important that you be at Whitehall Central School at 7 tonight – Thursday, Jan. 6 – for Bullying Prevention Night. You’ll hear what the school is doing about bullying and you’ll hear what surveys reveal about the problem. You’ll hear from guidance counselor Topher Montville and dean of students Gregg Chappell.

Most importantly, you’ll hear from the kids, as students get up and tell their stories.

If you are a student, you need to be there, too. Bring your parents, but if they won’t come, get yourself there. This is important for everyone, but if you are a school leader of any kind – National Honor Society, Student Council, an officer in any club, a captain in any sport, it’s important for you to be there, and it’s important for you to get others to come.

You’ll learn something.

Principal Kelly McHugh is not afraid to talk about bullying. She’s an educator and a mother, and she is adamant that her school will do everything it can to reduce it as much as possible. She is not afraid of bullies.

But she – and the teachers and the students and the rest of the folks at the town’s two schools – cannot do it alone. They need you to be there tonight.

They need you to listen, then talk to your kids – they’re welcome, too. Actually, do more listening than talking. Listen to what they say and really try to hear them, too. There are messages in there. Keep listening. It’s important.

Here’s another date for parents, students, faculty and staff and everyone else in the community to circle on the calendar – Wednesday, March 23.

Internationally known author Jodee Blanco will be spending all day and a good part of the evening at Whitehall, speaking to students, faculty and staff and to anyone from the community who wants to hear about bullying.

Blanco, who is the author of Please Stop Laughing at Me . . .! will present a seminar called “It’s NOT Just Joking Around.”

She is a bullying survivor, and she will tell her story. Blanco will be doing an evening parent/family seminar from 7 to 9 p.m. After hearing her during the day, your students are probably going to want to drag you there anyway. Blanco is the author of “” She has a critically important message for you, as do all tonight’s speakers.

Is there a bullying crisis at Whitehall Central School? No, it doesn’t seem that way.

Is bullying happening there? Yes, it happens everywhere.

There are two steps you can take to lessen the chance of bullies taking advantage of your kids, your students, your friends and yourself.

One step is tonight. The next is March 23.

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