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Bullying Minimal in Rumson Schools

10 reports of bullying verified after implementation of anti-bullying legislation

The bullying numbers are in, and the Rumson is pleased to hear that its schools' incident rate is very low.

"We had to have been, really, one of the exemplary districts that implemented this," said board member Tom Havard at Wednesday's board meeting where this year's report was reviewed.

Anti-bullying legislation was seen as prohibitive for many school districts last year, as schools were mandated by state edict to spend money from strained, 2 percent-capped budgets to implement extensive programs designed to protect students from harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB).

The anti-HIB initiatives require additional program-specific staffing, training and resources that can be costly.

In addition to the time investment, the mandatory program cost, according to Business Administrator Denise Friedmann, "tens of thousands of dollars" for things such as software and staff training, out of which Rumson only saw $4,001 returned in funding.

But for Rumson Schools Superintendent Mary Rose Caulfield-Sloan, it was worth it.

"It's really about looking at the school culture," Caulfield-Sloan said, "and empowering the bystanders to speak up, which diminishes the power of the bullies."

Part of the legislative push calls for tracking reports of bullying and cases where bullying incidents are verified. According to the superintendent, there were 47 reports in the district last year, but only 10 were deemed to be actual incidents of bullying after investigations were complete. Eight of the 10 incidents occurred at and two at .

"It is definitely something that took a lot of time but we have come to see that if we invest in it, the program does improve the school climate," Caulfield-Sloan said.

Caulfield-Sloan said the alternative — an environment where bullying is not addressed — makes it worth the time and expense.

"The cost to kids' learning is (otherwise) enormous," she said.

Maxkellr July 26, 2012 at 12:32 PM
This is such a waste of money and time that I can't even believe we have to spend time talking about it. Bullying??? Get real people and get a back bone!!!! Stop the mandatory wasting of money that our school districts don't have!!!! Stop bullying us into wasting money on ridicoulous programs like this instead of math and science!!!!!
SheilaAnn July 26, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Totally agree. This type of feel good BS is what takes away from real school programs like advanced writing, science, math, computers and everything that we as a nation are lagging with as compared to other countries.
LCohol July 26, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Anti bullying legislation? I am convinced we are becoming a nation of cowards and fools if we let people force us to actually spend money on this. Gues what, kids will be kids. There will be bullies and you will need to learn how to deal with them. It is a part of growing up. Oh, and guess what? Bullies exist in the workforce too...and if you think programs like this are going to change anything you are kidding yourself. No more waste please.
Josepharlin July 26, 2012 at 12:55 PM
I wouldn't spend a dime on this. Glad I left the area and my tax dollars aren't going towards these types of programs.
Luann July 26, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Schools in other nations are ahead of us, that's true. And many of them instituted bullying prevention programs decades ago. We are a much more competitive, less cooperative, nation when it comes to our school system. This has not served us well. The recent emphasis on collaborative and social-emotional learning, of which anti-bullying programs are a part, will actually help us become more like those other nations. Children learn best in environments where they feel safe, where their psychological-emotinoal needs are met, and where there is strong attachment to their school. I applaud our state for getting with the times.

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