Prevention & Prohibition of Bullying in Wareham Public Schools
Revised: December 2015
- Governor Patrick’s words about The 2010 Massachusetts Anti-bullying Law
- President and First Lady Obama’s words about The White House Summit on Bullying, March 10, 2011
- President Obama’s words to the youth of America
Overview of the law:
On Monday, May 3, 2010, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a landmark anti-bullying bill for Massachusetts (Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010). Provisions of this law include requirements for schools to create and implement bullying prevention plans which must include:
- Descriptions of and statements prohibiting bullying;
- Clear procedures for school staff to report bullying or retaliation;
- Provision for anonymous reports;
• Clear procedures for promptly responding to and investigating reports of bullying or retaliation;
• Range of disciplinary sanctions for perpetrators of bullying or retaliation;
• Clear procedures to address the victim’s need for safety;
• Strategies for protecting students who report bullying;
• Procedures for notifying parents or guardians of both victims and perpetrators;
• Procedures for reporting criminal activity to law enforcement;
• Disciplinary provisions for knowingly false reports of bullying;
• Strategies for counseling perpetrators and victims; and
- Provision for ongoing professional development to build skills of all members of school staff.
Since 2010, the Massachusetts Legislature has amended the anti-bullying statute (M.G.L. c. 71 § 37O), including, but not limited to, expanding potential aggressors to include school staff members and recognizing that certain categories of students may be more vulnerable to being bullied.
Below are messages from the Superintendent, Chairman of the Wareham School Committee, and Wareham Public Schools Student Safety Committee written as Wareham was developing its initial Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan.
A Message from the Superintendent of Schools:
The mission of the Wareham Public Schools is, “is to educate all students for life’s responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities.” We believe education requires respect for one another, the community, and ourselves. In order for students to feel safe the school environment must be free of bullying. To that end, Wareham Public Schools prohibits bullying. cvberbullying and retaliation. The culture of the schools should encourage bystanders to step up to unjust situations. Our social-emotional educational programs help develop a caring and supportive learning community. Our elementary schools have the Open Circle Program or The Responsive Classroom and the middle school and Cooperative junior/Senior High School use the PeaceBuilders program. What these programs have in common is the expectation that all staff and students must respect themselves and others. This Bullying Prevention Plan contains procedures for training, reporting, investigating, record keeping and consequences. With the help of the entire learning community and outside community we can eliminate bullying and harassment.
A Message from the Chairman of the Wareham School Committee:
The Wareham School Committee is committed to providing the highest quality education to all the students in a safe and nurturing setting. The Committee continues to support initiatives, operational protocols, and programs that establish the learning atmosphere and platform to educate the whole child. The Committee promotes the continuous effort of endorsing tolerance and respect for all members of the school community. It rejects and supports a prohibition of all forms of bigotry and disrespect including bullying and understands the negative impact these behaviors have on the school culture and the academic and social development of the individual. The Wareham School Committee will continue to reach out to the entire community in developing partnerships which will promote a safe and wholesome culture in which teaching, learning, and values clarification can occur.
A Message from the Wareham Public Schools Student Safety Committee:
As parent members of the district’s PTA’s, our objective for this plan is developed to encourage an environment of respect and tolerance, with prompt action and appropriate resolution to any and all reports of bullying and/or violence. The first and foremost objective has to be the safety of all students and to foster an environment where students can develop and maintain a positive outlook towards learning and social interaction. Our plan defines clear cut expectations for student behavior. The students who make the decision to engage in bullying and/or violent behavior will be addressed immediately and there will be clear consequences defined in the plan. The plan requires all teachers and administrators to be trained in identifying bullying. The plan defines clearly the expectation for a teacher or administrator to respond rapidly to an incident, assuring each student’s safety while initiating an objective investigation into reported incidents. The plan is comprehensive and clearly outlines the student responsibility for their behavior and the teacher/administrator responsibility to identify
minimizing impact of disabilities while maximizing opportunities to participate bullying, initiate prompt, effective investigations, and execute appropriate consequences. The plan is a strong step toward ensuring that all students, teachers, staff and administrators are accountable for maintaining a caring, cooperative and respectful learning environment.
Aggressor is a student or staff member including, but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity or paraprofessional who engages in bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation of a student.
Bullying, pursuant to M.G.L. c. 71, § 370, means the repeated use by one or more students or a school staff member of a
written, verbal or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a target that:
(a) Causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target’s property;
(b) Places the target in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or damage to his or her property;
(c) Creates a hostile environment at school for the target;
(d) Infringes on the rights of the target at school; or
(e) Materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
Bullying shall include cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying, pursuant to M.G.L c. 71, § 370, means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but not be limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo electronic or photo optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications. Cyberbullymg shall also include:
(a) The creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person, or
(b) The knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in clauses (a) through (e) of the definition of bullying. Cyberbullying shall also include the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated in clauses (a) through (e) of the definition of bullying.
Hostile environment, pursuant to M.G.L c. 71, § 370, means a situation in which bullying causes the school environment to be permeated with intimidation, ridicule or insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the student’s education.
Parent means a student’s father or mother, or guardian.
Principal means the administrative leader of a public school, charter school, collaborative school, or approved private day or residential school, or his or her designee for the purposes of implementing the school’s bullying prevention and intervention plan.
Retaliation means any form of intimidation, reprisal or harassment directed against a person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation about bullying, or witnesses or has reliable Information about bullying.
School district, pursuant to M.G.L. c 71, § 370, means the school department of a city or town, a regional school district or a county agricultural school.
School grounds means property on which a school building or facility is located or property that is owned, leased or used by a school district, charter school, non-public school, approved private day or residential school, or collaborative school for a school-sponsored activity, function, program, instruction or training.
Target means a student victim of bullying or retaliation as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 370.
Bullying shall be prohibited:
(i) On school grounds, property immediately adjacent to school grounds, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, function or program whether on or off school grounds, at a school bus stop, on a school bus or other vehicle owned, leased or used by a school district or school, or through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by a school district or school and
(ii) At a location, activity, function or program that is not school-related, or through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by a school district or school, if the bullying creates a hostile environment at school for the victim, infrInges on the rights of the victim at school or materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school. Nothing contained herein shall require schools to staff any non-school related activities, functions, or programs.
Each school principal or the person who holds a comparable position shall be responsible for the implementation and oversight of the plan at his school and compliance with all aspects of M.G.L. c. 71, § 370.
Bullying, Cyberbullying, and Retaliation Reporting Procedures:
- Written and oral reports shall be considered official reports, and oral reports will be reduced to writing. Anyone, except for a school staff member, may make an anonymous report. However, formal disciplinary action may not be based solely on an anonymous report.
- Students who witness, are the target of, or have credible information that an act bullying, cyberbullying or retaliation has taken place are strongly encouraged to report all incidents to a staff member, who will, in turn, report it to the principal or designee. School staff must report any instance of alleged bullying, cyberbullying or retaliation that the staff member has witnessed or become aware of to the principal or designee. All other members of the school community, including, parents/legal guardians, volunteers, and visitors, are strongly encouraged to report any act that may be a violation of this law to an administrator or professional staff member. (See Reporting Form in Appendix). If the principal is the alleged aggressor, the report should be made to the Superintendent. In such circumstances, the Superintendent or designee will be responsible for taking appropriate actions in accordance with this Plan and other applicable district policies and procedures, including providing for the safety of the alleged target. If the Superintendent is the alleged aggressor, the report should be made to the School Committee, which shall then be responsible for taking appropriate actions in accordance with this Plan and other applicable district policies and procedures, including providing for the safety of the alleged target.
- Within each building, the principal or designee is responsible for receiving and investigating reports of bullying behavior.
- Submission of a good faith complaint or report of bullying will not affect the complainant or reporter’s future employment, grades, learning or working environment, or work assignments.
Investigating and Responding to Allegations of Student-on-Student Bullying
- Each school is required to investigate allegations of bullying, cyber-bullying or retaliation promptly and determine whether bullying, cyber-bullying or retaliation occurred.
- Before fully investigating the allegations, the principal or designee will take steps to assess the need to restore a sense of safety to the alleged target and/or to protect the alleged target from possible further incidents. Responses to promote safety may include, but not be limited to, creating a personal action/safety plan; pre-determining seating arrangements for the alleged target and/or student aggressor in the classroom, at lunch, or on the bus; identifying a staff member who will act as a “safe person” for the target; and altering the student aggressor’s schedule and access to the target. The principal or designee will take additional steps to promote safety during the course of and after the investigation as necessary.
- The principal or designee will implement appropriate strategies to protect from bullying or retaliation any student who has reported bullying or retaliation, witnessed bullying or retaliation, provided information during an investigation, or who has reliable information about a reported act of bullying or retaliation.
- The principal or designee may interview students, staff, witnesses, and others, as necessary, in order to investigate the allegation(s). The principal or designee will remind individuals (1) that retaliation is strictly prohibited and will result in disciplinary action and (2) of the importance of being truthful. To the extent practicable given the obligation to investigate and address the allegations at issue, the principal or designee will maintain confidentiality during the investigative process.
- The principal or designee will maintain a written record of the investigation.
- The principal or designee makes a determination based upon all of the facts and circumstances. If, after an investigation, bullying or retaliation is substantiated, the principal or designee takes steps reasonably calculated to prevent recurrence and to ensure that the target is not restricted in participating in school or benefiting from school activities. The principal or designee: 1) determines what remedial action is required, if any, and 2) determines what corrective actions and/or disciplinary action are necessary. Disciplinary measures are left to the administrator’s discretion, within the guidelines of the school’s Code of Conduct and age appropriateness for students. Any discipline will reflect the severity of the offense, will balance the need for accountability with the need to teach appropriate behavior, and may include, but will not be limited to, verbal admonition, written reprimand, and/or suspension from school.
- Upon investigation and determination that bullying or retaliation has occurred, the principal shall promptly notify the parents of the target and the student aggressor of the determination and the school district or school’s procedures for responding to bullying or retaliation. The principal shall inform the target’s parent of actions that school officials will take to prevent further acts of bullying or retaliation. Nothing prohibits the principal from contacting a parent of a target or student aggressor about a report of bullying or retaliation prior to a determination that bullying or retaliation has occurred.
- Any required notice shall be provided in the primary language of the home.
- A principal’s notification to a parent about an incident or a report of bullying or retaliation must comply with confidentiality requirements of the Massachusetts Student Records Regulations, 603 CMR 23.00, and the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act regulations, 34 CFR Part 99, as set forth in 603 CMR 49.07.
- If the principal concludes that the conduct may constitute criminal activity, he/she will contact the School Resource Officer (SRO) to review the findings. Parent consent is not required for collaboration with the SRO to review the incident.
Investigating and Responding to Allegations of Staff-on-Student Bullying
- Upon receipt of a report of alleged bullying of a student by school staff, the principal/designee will be responsible for taking appropriate actions in accordance with this Plan and other applicable district policies and procedures, including providing for the safety of the alleged target where necessary. If the principal is the alleged aggressor, then the Superintendent/designee shall be responsible for such actions. In the event the Superintendent is the alleged aggressor, the School Committee/designee shall be responsible for such actions.
- A staff member who is the subject of a complaint of a serious nature will be informed promptly and will be afforded the opportunity to present the facts as he/she sees them, in accordance with district policies and procedures, including any applicable collective bargaining agreements.
- Procedures for investigating reports of bullying and retaliation by staff are consistent with district policies and procedures for investigations of other alleged misconduct by staff. If necessary, the designated school official will consult with legal counsel about such procedures. Investigations may include interviews of staff, students and others as deemed appropriate. School officials will remind individuals (1) that retaliation is strictly prohibited and will result in disciplinary action and (2) of the importance of being truthful. To the extent practicable given their obligation to investigate and address the allegations at issue, school officials will maintain confidentiality during the investigative process.
- In the event a designated school official determines that the staff member has engaged in bullying of, or retaliation against, a student, the student’s parent/guardian will be notified of what action is being taken to prevent further acts and to restore the student’s sense of safety. All notice to parents must comply with applicable state and federal privacy laws and regulations. Because of the legal requirements regarding the confidentiality of personnel records, the school official will not report specific information to the target’s parent or guardian about any disciplinary action taken unless it involves a “stay away” order or other directive that the target must be aware of in order to report violations.
- In the event disciplinary action against an employee is under consideration, appropriate due process will be provided. Any disciplinary action imposed will be based upon facts found by the designated school official and appropriate standards and expectations in light of the employee’s role and responsibilities. School officials will develop a method to record confirmed acts of bullying by staff.
Problem Resolution Procedure:
When a parent disagrees with findings related to outcomes of investigations or response to reports of bullying, cyberbullying or retaliation, the parent should immediately identify the nature of the disagreement in writing and submit this written notification to the principal or designee. First level dispute response will be with the principal of the school. If not resolved at this level, the parent should contact the Director of Student Services, and the principal or designee will provide all documentation to the Director. The Director will complete any necessary additional investigation and meet with the parent. This meeting may include the participation of the principal or designee.
Any parent wishing to file a claim/concern or seeking assistance outside of the school district may do so with the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Problem Resolution System (PRS). Information about the PRS can be found at http://www.doe.mass.edu/pqa or individuals may send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or may call 78-338-37OO. In addition, the Superintendent’s office has hard copies of information about the PRS.
Confidentiality of Records:
- A principal may not disclose information from a student record of a target or student aggressor to a parent unless the information is about the parent’s own child.
- A principal may disclose a determination of bullying or retaliation to a local law enforcement agency under 603 CMR 49.06 without the consent of a student or his or her parent. The principal shall communicate with law enforcement officials in a manner that protects the privacy of targets, student witnesses, and aggressors to the extent practicable under the circumstances.
- A principal may disclose student record Information about a target or student aggressor to appropriate parties in addition to law enforcement in connection with a health or safety emergency if knowledge of the information Is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals as provided In 603 CMR 23.07(4)(e) and 34 CFR 31(a)(10) and 99.36. 603 CMR 49.07(3) is limited to instances in which the principal has determined there is an immediate and significant threat to the health or safety of the student or other individuals. It is limited to the period of emergency and does not allow for blanket disclosure of student record information. The principal must document the disclosures and the reasons that the principal determined that a health or safety emergency exists.
Reporting Criminal Activity
- Before the first day of each school year, the superintendent or designee shall communicate with the chief of police or designee of the local police department about the implementation of 603 CMR 49.06.
- At any point after receipt of a report of bullying or retaliation, including after an investigation, the principal shall notify the local law enforcement agency if the principal has a reasonable basis to believe that criminal charges may be pursued against the aggressor. Notice shall be consistent with the requirements of 603 CMR 49.00 and established agreements with the local law enforcement agency. The principal shall document the reasons for his or her decision to notify law enforcement. Nothing in 603 CMR 49.06 shall be interpreted to require reporting to a law enforcement agency in situations in which bullying and retaliation can be handled appropriately within the school district or school.
(a) In making the determination whether notification to law enforcement is appropriate, the principal may consult with the school resource officer and any other individuals the principal deems appropriate.
(b) Nothing in 603 CMR 49.06 shall prevent the principal from taking appropriate disciplinary or other action pursuant to school district or school policy and state law, provided that disciplinary actions for students balance the need for accountability with the need to teach appropriate behavior.
- If an incident of bullying or retaliation occurs on school grounds and involves a former student under the age of 21 who Is no longer enrolled In the school district or school, the principal of the school Informed of the bullying or retaliation shall notify the local law enforcement agency if the principal has a reasonable basis to believe that criminal charges may be pursued against the aggressor.
- When involving local law enforcement, Wareham Public Schools will report incidents to the School Resource Officer as a first course of action. In absence of the SRO, the report will go to the Chief of Police or his/her designee.
Discipline for False Reports:
Any student who knowingly makes a false accusation of bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action, which may include a warning, detention or suspension (in or out-of-school).
A key aspect of promoting positive school climates is ensuring that the underlying emotional needs of targets, student aggressors, families, and others are addressed. This Plan describes the strategies for providing supports and services necessary to meet these needs. In order to enhance the schools or district’s capacity to prevent, intervene early, and respond effectively to bullying, available services reflect an understanding of the dynamics of bullying and provide approaches to address the needs of targets and student aggressors. This plan includes a strategy for providing counseling or referral to appropriate services for student aggressors, targets and family members of those students.
Resources. This “map” of district and local resources will be reviewed by the administrative team and school counseling staff annually.
School-wide positive behavioral intervention programs:
Responsive Classroom (Decas)
® The Responsive Classroom is an approach to elementary teaching that emphasizes social, emotional, and academic growth in a strong and safe school community. The goal is to enable optimal student learning. Created by classroom teachers and backed by evidence from independent research, the Responsive Classroom approach is based on the premise that children learn best when they have both academic and social-emotional skills. The approach therefore consists of classroom and schoolwide practices for deliberately helping children build academic and social-emotional competencies.
Open Circle (Minot)
® Open Circle is a comprehensive, grade-differentiated social and emotional learning program for grades K-5 children, their teachers, administrators, other school staff, parents and other caregivers. Its mission is to work with school communities to help children become ethical people, contributing citizens and successful learners. The program fosters the development of relationships that support strategies for bullying prevention and intervention, research findings on bullying, and information on cyberbullying and internet safety.
Annual staff training on the Plan. Annual training for all school staff on the Plan will include staff duties under the Plan, an overview of the steps that the principal or designee will follow upon receipt of a report of bullying or retaliation, and an overview of the bullying prevention curricula to be offered at all grades throughout the school or district. Staff members hired after the start of the school year are required to participate in school-based training during the school year in which they are hired, unless they can demonstrate participation in an acceptable and comparable program within the last two years.
Ongoing professional development. The goal of professional development is to establish a common understanding of tools necessary for staff to create a school climate that promotes safety, civil communication, and respect for differences. Professional development will build the skills of staff members to prevent, identify, and respond to bullying. As required by M.G.L c. 71, § 370, the content of school-wide and district-wide professional development will be informed by research and will include information on:
(i) developmentally (or age-) appropriate strategies to prevent bullying;
(ii) developmentally (or age-) appropriate strategies for immediate, effective interventions to stop bullying incidents;
(iii) information regarding the complex interaction and power differential that can take place between and among an aggressor, target, and witnesses to the bullying;
(iv) research findings on bullying, including information about specific categories of students who have been shown to be particularly at risk for bullying in the school environment;
(v) information on the incidence and nature of cyberbullying; and
(vi) Internet safety issues as they relate to cyberbullying.
Professional development also will address ways to prevent and respond to bullying or retaliation for students with disabilities
that must be considered when developing students’ Individualized Education Programs (lEPs). This will include a particular focus on the needs of students with autism or students whose disability affects social skills development.
Additional areas identified by the school or district for professional development include:
- promoting and modeling the use of respectful language;
- fostering an understanding of, and respect for, diversity and difference;
- building relationships and communicating with families;
- constructively managing classroom behaviors;
- using positive behavioral intervention strategies;
- applying constructive disciplinary practices;
• teaching students skills including positive communication, anger management, and empathy for others;
- engaging students in school or classroom planning and decision-making; and
- maintaining a safe and caring classroom for all students.
Student Education & Training
Wareham Public Schools will provide age-appropriate instruction on bullying prevention for students In each grade that is incorporated into the curriculum of the school or district. The curriculum will be evidence-based, and information about It will be made available to parents and guardians.
- Specific bullying prevention approaches. Bullying prevention curricula will be informed by current research which, among other things, emphasizes the following approaches:
- using scripts and role plays to develop skills ;
- empowering students to take action by knowing what to do when they witness other students engaged in acts of bullying or retaliation, including seeking adult assistance;
- helping students understand the dynamics of bullying and cyberbullying, including the underlying power imbalance;
- emphasizing cyber-safety, including safe and appropriate use of electronic communication technologies;
- enhancing students skills for engaging in healthy relationships and respectful communications; and
- engaging students In a safe, supportive school environment that is respectful of diversity and difference.
Initiatives also will teach students about the student-related sections of the Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan.
- General teaching approaches that support bullying prevention efforts. The following approaches are integral to establishing a safe and supportive school environment. These underscore the importance of our bullying intervention and prevention initiatives:
- setting clear expectations for students and establishing school and classroom routines;
- identifying specific steps for creating safe school and classroom environments for all students, recognizing, however, that certain students may be more vulnerable to becoming targets of bullying or harassment based on actual or perceived characteristics, including race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, socioeconomic status, homelessness, academic status, gender identity or expression, physical appearance, pregnant or parenting status, sexual orientation, mental, physical, developmental or sensory disability or by association with a person who has or is perceived to have one or more of these characteristics;
- providing all students with the skills, knowledge, and strategies to prevent or respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing;
- using appropriate and positive responses and reinforcement, even when students require discipline;
- using positive behavioral supports;
- encouraging adults to develop positive relationships with students;
- modeling, teaching, and rewarding pro-social, healthy, and respectful behaviors;
- using positive approaches to behavioral health, including collaborative problem-solving, conflict resolution training, teamwork, and positive behavioral supports that aid in social and emotional development; and
- using the Internet safely.
Students with Special Education Needs
- Whenever an Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team evaluation indicates that a student’s disability affects social skills development, or when the student’s disability makes him or her vulnerable to bullying, harassment or teasing, the IEP must address the skills and proficiencies needed to avoid and respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing.
- Similarly, for students identified with a disability on the autism spectrum, the IEP Team must consider and specifically address the skills and proficiencies needed to avoid and respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing.
Internet Safety Plan
Wareham Public Schools provides computer access to students and has an internet safety policy/acceptable use policy to protect students from inappropriate materials and subject matter. The policy, and any standards and rules enforcing it, will be determined by the school committee in conjunction with the superintendent. The policy is included in the District Handbook of Policies and Procedures for Students and Staff that is posted on the district’s website.
The internet is an amazing resource that offers our children unlimited opportunities for learning, constructive entertainment, and personal growth. Any child who is old enough to select a letter on a keyboard can access the world. New technologies offer many ways to communicate, and youth today have fully embraced the technologies. They have become a major part of our children’s social environment. The world of computers and the internet are constantly expanding and changing, and it is not uncommon today that children are more knowledgeable than adults about technology. Parents and caregivers have a responsibility to help keep children safe online and to educate themselves about the technologies children use to communicate. You need to be aware of your child’s online activities and teach him or her about cyber-ethics and how to interact positively in cyberspace.
Internet risks can be effectively managed through education and careful parental attention. By taking responsibility for your child’s online computer use, you can greatly minimize your child’s potential risk of exposure to online danger.
Tips and Strategies for Parents
- Become computer literate.
- Keep the computer in a common area where you can watch and monitor your child online.
- Take a hands-on approach. Be involved and aware of what your child sees and hears on the Internet, who your child meets, and what information they share about themselves.
- Create a family agreement that supports a fun, safe online environment with rules on acceptable time of day for computer use, length of time online, and appropriate websites to visit. Have your child sign the agreement.
- Internet accounts should be In the parent’s name with parents having the primacy screen name and controlling passwords.
- Get to know the services your child uses from chat to instant messages (IM) and from message boards to blogs. Learn how they work and what tools they offer to protect your child’s privacy.
- Consider blocking, filtering, monitoring and rating software for your computer. Check with your internet service provider (ISP) as some have software for purchase or for free. Remember, though, that software can’t take the place of a caring adult.
- Talk to your child about the things he or she may encounter online. If your child is in an uncomfortable situation, direct him or her to exit the program, turn off the computer and notify you or a trusted adult immediately. You should then notify your ISP and law enforcement if appropriate.
- Balance your child’s online activities with other important life activities.
Golden rules of behavior are passed down from generation to generation. Parents should apply these same rules to regulate their child’s behavior in cyberspace.
- Rules from real life apply: always use courtesy, kindness, dignity and respect.
- Don’t talk to strangers. Teach your child that talking to a stranger online is no different from talking to a stranger in the street. Remind him or her that it’s not easy to spot a stranger online, as anyone can masquerade as someone else on the internet.
- Come right home after school. You don’t want your child roaming around the streets, and wandering online is no different. Allowing your child to spend unlimited time surfing aimlessly is asking for trouble.
- We need to know your friends. Parents want to know who their child’s friends are in everyday life. The same should apply to the Internet. Take note of where he or she goes online and who he or she talks to. Remind your child never to agree to meet an online friend without a parent, and do it often.
- Don’t provoke a fight. Provoking a fight under any circumstances isn’t smart. Trying to provoke someone online is called flaming and it is often a violation of the terms of service with your ISP. If your child feels someone is flaming him or her, he or she should tell you right away.
- Don’t tell anyone your personal Information. You never know who you’re talking to online. Even if you think you know, there could be strangers lurking. Remind your child that there is no guarantee that what is said or posted on the Internet is private, and information including photos and videos posted on the internet can last forever.
- Don’t steal. Parents must make It clear to their child that downloading music without paying for it or copying a friend’s computer game, although common, is wrong. You could be sued or charged with a crime.
The Internet provides unlimited methods of communication. Here are some applications parents should understand.
Email is electronic mail, or messages sent from one address to another. It can include attachments such as pictures, sound, video or text.
- Spam (junk mail)
- No privacy—email can easily be distributed to the whole world
- Computer viruses
- School or social trouble
- Have different accounts for different levels of privacy
- Have an account in your name that your child can use to receive email and access it often
Teach your child to do the following:
- Protect passwords
- Guard personal information
- Never open emails or attachments from an unknown person
- Delete chain letters
- Remember that email can be shared widely
Instant Messaging (IM)
Instant Message is a communication service allowing two or more users who are on-line at the same time to correspond. It is faster than email because it happens in “real time” and can be accessed from any computer.
- Strangers can contact your child
- It’s hard to monitor
- Kids spend too much time on it
- Online profiles are searchable
- Trouble with peers/school
- Spam (junk mail)
- Check screen names and profiles and discuss good choices
- Know your child’s password
- Use parental controls and other settings and preferences
- Stay involved and talk to other parents
Chat rooms are areas online that allow multiple members to “chat’ in real time. They can be an individual website or part of a website providing venues for users with a common interest to have chat rooms. All participants in a chat room see each message posted. Some chat rooms are monitored by the site host, but not every site is monitored.
- Higher risk a child will reveal information that can personally identify him/her
- Chat rooms and ‘one on one’ conversation flows easily to offline private space
- Unmonitored chat can have inappropriate language and sexual content
- Predators can easily lurk in chat rooms
- Don’t allow chat rooms, or only allow buddy chat
- Only allow chat in monitored environments
- Teach your child not to give out any personal information
- Teach your child never to meet new online friends offline without a parent or adult
- Set rules and monitor them carefully
Blogs and Social Networks
A weblog, or blog, is a personal website of personal thoughts and web links, reading like a diary or journal.
Social networks allow members to join around shared interests. They have been called the equivalent of the town hall, the water cooler, or working on a yearbook for the internet generation. Some of the better-known social networking sites are Myspace, Togetherville, Xanga, and Facebook.
Blogs and Social Network Risks
- Privacy issues, such as photo distribution
- Risk to reputation
Blog and Social Network Tips
- Limit blogs
- Create a blog with your teen, making sure no personal information is online and discussing content
- Discourage the posting of any photos—they can be copied and used by anyone
- Make sure your child knows you’ll be one of his or her ‘friends”
Dissemination of Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan
- Wareham will provide to students and parents or guardians with annual written notice of the relevant student-related sections of the plan in the District Handbook of Policies and Procedures for Students and Staff and student agenda.
- Wareham Public Schools will provide to all school staff annual written notice of the plan. The faculty and staff at each school shall be trained annually on the plan applicable to the school.
- The District will provide informational materials through its partnership with Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center. These informational materials will be available on the district website. They also will be available at each of the schools and available at school sponsored events and activities. Informational materials will address such topics as how to reinforce the district ‘s bullying prevention curricula at home and the dynamics of bullying.
- The plan will be posted on the Wareham Public Schools website (www.wareharnps.org).
Collecting, Maintaining, and Reporting Bullying Incident Data to DESE
The Wareham Public Schools will collect and maintain the following bullying incident data and shall report such data annually to DESE. The data shall include, but is not necessarily limited to,:
(i) the number of reported allegations of bullying or retaliation;
(ii) the number and nature of substantiated incidents of bullying or retaliation;
(iii) the number of students disciplined for engaging in bullying or retaliation; and
(iv) any other information required by DESE.
This incident data shall be reported in the form and manner established by DESE, in consultation with the attorney general.
In addition, at least once every four years, the district will administer a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education-developed student survey to assess school climate and the prevalence, nature, and severity of bullying in the district’s schools.
Relationship to Other Laws
Nothing in this Plan prevents the District from taking action to remediate discrimination or harassment based upon a person’s membership in a legally protected category under local, state, or federal law, or the District’s policies.
Additionally, nothing in this Plan is designed or intended to limit the authority of the school or district to take disciplinary action or other action under M.G.L., c.71, §§ 37H, 37H1/2, or 37H3/4, M.G.L. c. 71 §§ 41, 42, or 42D, other applicable laws, District policies, or collective bargaining agreements in response to violent, harmful, disruptive or other inappropriate behavior, regardless of whether the Plan covers the behavior.