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Wilton Schools Put Bullying Off Limits

WILTON, Conn. – The state's new anti-bullying legislation goes into effect in a month-and-a-half and the Wilton public schools say they'll be ready.

“You want to be proactive in your approach,” said Assistant Superintendent Tim Canty 

The new law, which goes into effect June 1, essentially expands the definition of bullying to include repeated incidents of cyber bullying and verbal, written, electronic and physical acts by one or a group of students against another.

To remain proactive, each Wilton school has a Safe School Specialist who trains the entire school staff – not just teachers and administrators – how to recognize bullying and to report it.

But with the increased use of technology and social networks like Facebook and Twitter, the concern about cyber bullying has increased because not everything happens at school.

“Students have this false illusion that whatever happens outside school is ‘my own business,’ ” Wilton High School Principal Bob O’Donnell said. He added that cyber bullying affects students all the time, not just while they're in the classroom. 

“We try to be available and try to be sympathetic and empathetic and kind, and just realize that fundamentally being a teenager is challenging and hard,” O’Donnell said. The school does this by trying to ensure that students feel comfortable enough to go to at least one adult in the building with their concerns.

Middlebrook Middle School Principal Julia Harris said making the school a good environment is what they do. “We have well-behaved students,” which she attributes not just to parents and the community but also to the teachers who pay attention to the student’s social and emotional environment. 

When situations do arise in the schools, teachers and counselors are reactive in resolving them, Harris and O'Donnell say, though they add that incidents are few.

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