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Md. schools aren't doing enough about bullying

Courtney Watson's commentary regarding cyberbullying ("Cyberbullying requires a stronger response," Jan. 3) makes some excellent points about the intense need to develop mechanisms to address the dramatically increasing problem of cyberbullying. However, the implication that the Maryland Safe Schools Acts have resulted in widespread vigilance among teachers who intervene to stop bullying is simply not true. Student surveys indicate that a great deal of training, among staff and students, is needed in order to make schools safe for students, especially those who stand out as different. The policy in Maryland is there; however, in many schools the reality is not, yet.

Regarding cyberbullying, structured collaboration between health department professionals, police and the state's attorney's office is always a good thing. But more importantly, school systems must allocate the needed resources to provide widespread training among staff members. Furthermore, updated socio-emotional curriculum must be shared with students from kindergarten through high school so students understand how to avoid being a cyberbully and how to intervene when they are witness to it. The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have some excellent resources online.

Barbara Sugarman Grochal, Baltimore

The writer is director School Conflict Resolution Education Programs at the University of Maryland School of Law's Center for Dispute Resolution.

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