A look at bullying

PINE PLAINS — Bullying and harassment are a problem at every school in the country. It’s an issue that sometimes erupts in national coverage, like incidents at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech. But often it is an issue that affects countless students, every day, in nameless school districts around the globe.

Tara Horst, the high school principal in the Pine Plains Central School District, organized an informational presentation on bullying and harassment, held Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 6:30 p.m. in the Stissing Mountain High School auditorium.

The presentation was for school staff and adults in the community. It was mainly given by county sheriff’s Deputy Todd Grieb, who is the Student Resource Officer (SRO) for the Wappingers school district.

The presentation covered what constitutes bullying and harassment, as well as the effect that it has on a school district and what can be done to prevent incidents from occurring.

The main duty of SROs, Grieb explained, is to be there to talk to students. He reported that he had up to 1,200 calls for service annually at different schools, and that almost 50 percent of those calls are for issues involving bullying.

With the widespread social connections that students now have on the Internet, different types of bullying and different kinds of bullies are becoming more and more of an issue in schools.

Grieb said that issues online — which mostly happen out of school, then become incidents when school starts the next day — have increased in frequency.   Teachers have no prior knowledge of the incident and can’t respond as effectively.

The biggest bullying problems are happening in middle schools, Grieb said. Contrary to popular belief, girls are more likely to bully than boys, and the kind of bullying they participate in (social and verbal rather than physical) is often more harmful.

The focus, Grieb stressed, was to promote peer intervention during incidents. There aren’t enough teachers and staff to monitor a situation, and there is little supervision outside of school hours.

“Bullying is a learned trait,� he said. “There needs to be a schoolwide commitment rather than cracking down on individual bullies.�

Horst explained that this presentation was only the beginning of what she hoped would be a very involved outreach program to combat problems with bullying and harassment.

Rachel’s Challenge, an outreach group that started as a result of the Columbine massacre, recently came to the district to give a presentation to students and community members.

Horst is looking to put together a committee made up of staff and community members interested in talking and collaborating on directions the district should take to deal with violence in the schools. Anyone interested can contact her at the Stissing Mountain High School at 518-398-7181.

“We can create a more friendly and welcoming tone in the school,� Horst told those in attendance, “so students take risks and feel more comfortable. We’ll then try to push the information down to the elementary schools. The younger you start, the more successful you are.�

Latest News

Robert J. Pallone

NORFOLK — Robert J. Pallone, 69, of Perkins St. passed away April 12, 2024, at St. Vincent Medical Center. He was a loving, eccentric CPA. He was kind and compassionate. If you ever needed anything, Bob would be right there. He touched many lives and even saved one.

Bob was born Feb. 5, 1955 in Torrington, the son of the late Joesph and Elizabeth Pallone.

Keep ReadingShow less
The artistic life of Joelle Sander

"Flowers" by the late artist and writer Joelle Sander.

Cornwall Library

The Cornwall Library unveiled its latest art exhibition, “Live It Up!,” showcasing the work of the late West Cornwall resident Joelle Sander on Saturday, April 13. The twenty works on canvas on display were curated in partnership with the library with the help of her son, Jason Sander, from the collection of paintings she left behind to him. Clearly enamored with nature in all its seasons, Sander, who split time between her home in New York City and her country house in Litchfield County, took inspiration from the distinctive white bark trunks of the area’s many birch trees, the swirling snow of Connecticut’s wintery woods, and even the scenic view of the Audubon in Sharon. The sole painting to depict fauna is a melancholy near-abstract outline of a cow, rootless in a miasma haze of plum and Persian blue paint. Her most prominently displayed painting, “Flowers,” effectively builds up layers of paint so that her flurry of petals takes on a three-dimensional texture in their rough application, reminiscent of another Cornwall artist, Don Bracken.

Keep ReadingShow less
A Seder to savor in Sheffield

Rabbi Zach Fredman

Zivar Amrami

On April 23, Race Brook Lodge in Sheffield will host “Feast of Mystics,” a Passover Seder that promises to provide ecstasy for the senses.

“’The Feast of Mystics’ was a title we used for events back when I was running The New Shul,” said Rabbi Zach Fredman of his time at the independent creative community in the West Village in New York City.

Keep ReadingShow less