Bullying Reporting More Likely for Middle Schoolers, Principal Says

Majority of district cases have been at BRMS.

Recently, the board of education heard a report on violence and vandalism in the school, and although there have not been too many incidents reported, most of them have been reported at the Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School.

There were a total of 164 reported incidents, but only 54 were confirmed as actually being harassment by state standards for the entire 2011-2012 school year. A total of 27 were confirmed in the second reporting period, from January through June.

The incidents, which were mostly verbal, spanned across reports of bullying for race, color, sexual orientation, disability or other distinguishing characteristics.

Discipline, according to the reports, ranged from in-school suspensions to detentions, mostly, as well as individual counseling.

But Superintendent of Schools Michael Schilder has said they also found it interesting that a majority of the incidents—15 in total—occurred at BRMS. He said he spoke with other local superintendents, who reported similar findings.

And BRMS principal Nancy Iatesta said that that is not uncommon because students at that age are often more likely to report incidents.

“Middle school students are becoming more independent and are finding their way with new peer groups,” she said. “They are also very comfortable talking to their teachers, guidance counselors and principals about peer concerns and issues.”

Because of this, Iatesta said, she has found that students in the middle school are more likely to report when they are having an issue with another student.

Still, Iatesta said, the school has assemblies planned to try and curb the incidents of bullying themselves.

“We have two assemblies already planned for the school year, along with our PRIDE students, who work with counselors and then present lessons to their peers regarding accepting differences,” she said.

What do you think about these distinctions? Does it make sense that more cases of bullying are found in the middle school, and what else can be done to prevent them?


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