Girls disciplined over bullying in NJ

March 31, 2009 8:13:34 AM PDT
There is a crackdown on bullying at an elementary school in New Jersey.A dozen 8th-grade girls were removed from school, at least temporarily, after the only other girl in the grade claimed she was harassed and bullied.

It happened in the borough of Califon in Hunterdon County.

"I did tell the children that harassment and bullying is against the law," Califon chief administrator Dr. Kathleen Prystash said.

It is a small town of 800 people. There are 13 girls in the entire 8th grade, and 12 of them were disciplined for bullying the other.

According to the principal, two or three of them were the ring leaders, and then there were those who just went along and didn't say much for or against the victim. But none of that is OK with the principal, or New Jersey law.

According to Prystash, the bullies made the one 8th grader cry by excluding her and whispering unkind comments. They are ongoing issues the school has confronted for months. But the breaking point came when foul smelling trash and gym shoes were put in the girl's locker.

"They lost their dance and they weren't allowed to come back to school until their parents came in," Prystash said.

But she says some of the parents became extremely angry that any disciplinary action was taken. Twice, police had to come to the school.

According to a local psychotherapist, the most important thing is that all sides be heard.

"The bully obviously has issues that need to be addressed," Licensed Clinical Social Worker Susan Schankler said.

Schankler specializes in bullying and says there are plenty of resources out there for parents and kids.

"I think intrinsically, people know when their kids are in trouble," she said.

For now, the one girl has been home-schooled for the past two weeks, and there is a meeting Tuesday night between all of the parents and teachers involved.

Schankler recommends the following books for more information on dealing with bullies:

  • "Please Stop Laughing at Me..." by Jodee Blanco
  • "Letters to a Bullied Girl" by Olivia Gardner, with Emily and Sarah Buder
  • "Bullies are a pain in the brain" written and illustrated by Trevor Romain


    WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King