The Somerset Public Schools and Somerset Berkley Regional School District are committed to creating safe and supportive learning environments for all students in which everyone feels valued and respected, allowing students to reach their fullest potential.  Bullying is a serious issue that every school faces, is detrimental to the learning process, and is counter-productive to our efforts in ensuring physical and emotional safety for all students. Bullying is intentional, often involves an imbalance of power, and is repeated over time rather than occurring in an isolated incident.  It has an obvious negative impact on all students, from targets to bystanders, and creates an unsafe climate of fear and disrespect and will not be tolerated in either school district. 

In order to better prevent bullying and respond to bullying situations when they occur, schools and families must work together as a team. Bullying does not just happen at recess, lunch, hallway, or in the classroom.  Increasingly, it is taking place after school hours through social media, beginning in elementary school. Below is a list of resources that parents can utilize to learn more about bullying and to refer to if you believe your child is a target of bullying, a witness of bullying, or is the one bullying others.  These resources will also be found online in the near future as the Somerset Public Schools is preparing to launch a new website with more resources for families of either district to use covering a variety of topics.

What is Bullying?

As defined by Massachusetts General Law c. 71 § 37O, bullying is the repeated use by one or more students or school staff members of a written, verbal, or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at a target that:

  1. causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target’s property;
  2. places the target in reasonable fear of harm to him/herself, or of damage to his/her property;
  3. creates a hostile environment at school for the target;
  4. infringes on the rights of the target at school; or
  5. materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.

Cyber-bullying means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but shall 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 photos, email, internet communications include all varieties of social media, and instant messages, among others.  Cyber-bullying shall also include the creation of a web page, social media profile, or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or knowingly impersonates another person as author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.

What can I do as a parent/guardian if I suspect my child is involved in bullying (target, aggressor, or bystander)?

Communication is of critical importance.  Please contact the appropriate building principal if you have any bullying concerns or information that you would like to share.  This includes encouraging your child to inform teachers and administrators of potential bullying situations in and out of school.  If building administrators are unaware of situations that resemble bullying, they will be unable to investigate and to take appropriate action.  There are several ways one can report bullying:

    • Call a principal/assistant principal or teacher.
    • Make an anonymous report through a dedicated phone number
      • Call *67 508-235-0605 and provide the information requested in the voicemail message.
      • Dialing *67 is important because it provides the anonymity to the caller.
      • It is important to note that no disciplinary action shall be taken against a student or staff member solely on the basis of an anonymous report.
    • Make an anonymous report through an online bullying report form
      • Use the link on the district websites to submit an anonymous report using an online form.

Together, we all can work to ensure that all students are physically, socially, and emotionally safe, feel valued and respected, and learn in an environment that will encourage success and excellence.

Sincerely,

Jeff Schoonover

Superintendent