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October 27, 2016
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Bullying - a major concern for schools; Wayne Highlands confronts bullying by encouraging good behavior

In the coming months, the county district attorney, Janine Edwards, who just took office in January, intends to work closely with the schools in developing a memo of understanding (MOU). “This will clarify the role of the DA as well as the state police, the Honesdale Borough Police, and the Department of Probation,” he said.

In the elementary schools where healthy instruction should begin, the school has initiated a program called School-wide Effective Behavior Support (SWEBS), which aims at positive responses rather than negative responses toward bullying incidents.

“The purpose is to build a climate of cooperation and acceptance that rewards good behaviors rather than punish unacceptable behaviors,” said Nalesnik, who was once the elementary school principal. “The emphasis is on rewarding good behaviors. In SWEBS, students’ good behaviors get positive points. A number of times in the year those students with positive points get a reward like time to go outside and play a game like kick ball or some such. The students who don’t have the points don’t get the reward. Slowly, it starts to sink in.”

“The majority of problems in high school is with the girls,” Scarfalloto said. “It’s not only girls, of course, but girls are hurt by words more than boys.” Unlike in a former age, bullying has been made easy by modern technology, like cell phones, iPads, and social media like Facebook and Twitter.

“Cyberbullying is a serious problem today,” Frigoletto said. “With social media, hurtful communications can proliferate since it is carried out anonymously. It encourages even good kids to do it.”

“Until it becomes a school problem, we can’t do much about cyberbullying,” he said. As for help for parents, the district held a workshop on bullying and cyberbullying for parents only to find that there were more educators in attendance than parents. “The parents who came got a lot out of it,” Frigoletto said.

“We don’t recommend parents allowing students to have free use of electronic equipment,” Scarfalloto said. “Families should have a clear policy like the school does in the use of these things. A problem with social media like Facebook, a picture of a student or a remark about a student is sent to hundreds of others, even thousands of others without the original sender knowing it,” she said.

The school has made in-service training for teachers and administrators and would like to reach more parents in this regard.