Bullies prompt reaction from Peninsula schools 

Schoolyard teasing, fighting and even cyberbullying are concerning parents throughout San Mateo County as school administrations try to identify and properly punish all types of harassment.

At a middle school in the San Carlos School District, an incident that allegedly involved a comment about the principal on Facebook prompted the administration to plan a cyberbullying workshop for this week.

Tierra Linda parent Janet Hall said she has concerns about bullying at the middle school.

At Arundel Elementary School in the same district, Bob Lewetzon said his fourth-grade son has been a victim of bullying for at least three school years. He even watched the bully punch his child from behind.

Lewetzon said that when he went to the school and the district, he claims he was not given answers. Lewetzon said he was told by several school and district officials that they could not discuss school business.

“It’s frustrating,” he said. “I’m the parent of the victim and I don’t know what’s going on. They just sweep it under the rug.”

School officials said they could not comment on specific incidents of bullying on campus.

According to district officials, each school site is able to address bullying in its own way.

Principals at Tierra Linda and Arundel said they take all complaints of bullying seriously and try to speak with all parties involved to determine what happened.

“When someone is upset, there has to be a reason,” Arundel Principal Steve Kaufman said. “We cannot ignore it and write it off as ‘boys will be boys.’ We look into every matter.”

At Tierra Linda, the incident of cyberbullying prompted officials to bring in an outside expert on the matter to talk with students, teachers and parents.

Officer Steve DeWarns, founder of Internetchildsafety.net, will be at the middle school next week to speak about social networking and teach parents and students how to reduce risk.

“Everyone — parents and teachers — need to be aware of what’s going on so it doesn’t turn violent at school,” DeWarns said.

“Cyberbullies look for kids to talk about it, see how fast it spreads and if someone retaliates with another posting online.”
Lewetzon, though, has said he has obtained legal counsel and may press charges against the child for assault. He and Arundel parent Rick Broocker say they have filed police reports with San Carlos police against the same bully.

Bullying seminars

Two upcoming sessions will address student bullying:

Tierra Linda Middle School

When: Tuesday, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: The school library
What: Discussion is free and open to all San Carlos School District parents; it will focus on how children are connecting online, social networking and the future of social networking sites, cyberbullies, sexting, tips on how to reduce risk for a better online experience and teaching parents how to apply basic parenting skills to their child’s Internet use.

Redwood City Elementary School District

When: April 27, 6 to 8:15 p.m.
Where: Garfield School
What: Workshop will focus on strategies to identify occurrences of bullying and cyberbullying, and provide effective prevention and intervention techniques. Participants will also learn how to address and support students who are bullies, targets or bystanders and how to set limits for safe and responsible computer use at home.

Source: Tierra Linda Middle School and Redwood City Elementary School District

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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