Hudson Valley Parent

HVP October 2016

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14 Hudson Valley Parent n October 2016 include specific dates and quotes. If the behavior continues, take the information to the school and make a formal report, which will give the school more to go on than just the words of a concerned – but emotion- al – parent, he adds. Although it doesn't seem like it should, it may actually take time to right everything again. Tamara Sisilli of Tillson, is familiar with pushing to make the bullying end. For almost two years, her 12-year-old son was tormented at school. He has been to the emer- gency room three times, she says, suffering injuries as a result of hits, kicks and punches. Teachers, administrators, school officials and police were all aware but were somehow, the abuse con- tinued. Eventually, Sisilli got assis- tance via the Dignity for All Students Act – the anti-bullying statute that works to ensure a safe, welcoming and caring environment for all New York state public school children. This year, school administrative shifts have given the family renewed optimism. "Hopefully with the new admin- istrative changes, all of the children will have a fun, safe, educationally enriched year," she says. Finding balance At the Teaching Empathy Insti- tute, an agency that works with schools to help cultivate emotionally and physically safe learning com- munities, Levine's approach involves teaching pro-social skills through modeling and having real conversa- tions about social challenges that in- clude role-playing. Students, teach- ers, teaching assistants, monitors, leaders and parents are all included. "We must all have the same con- versation that it is everyone's right to feel safe both physically and emo- tionally," he says. As martial arts instructor for over 20 years, Mark Nesbitt, who owns Nesbitt Tae Kwon Do in Wawars- ing, says bullying is far from new as it has always been a problem for children. "In [martial arts], we stress the importance of being able to defend yourself as well as how not to put yourself in a situation where it would be necessary to do so," he says, adding that awareness of sur- roundings as well as potential prob- lem areas that should be avoided are parts of training that are stressed – in addition the traditional escapes from holds and self-defense moves. As confidence can go a long way in helping to shift the perception of power imbalances, Nesbitt incorpo- rates skills into his school's curric- ulum to help build self-esteem, like board-breaking and other activities designed that boost confidence. Em- phasis on academics and doing well in the classroom are also encour- aged. Although team sports and activities like scouting can also help build con- fidence, Nesbitt says martial arts offer unique opportunities for children. "You don't have a team to rely on. You have to accomplish this feat on your own," he says. "In today's world every child should know how to defend themselves and have the confidence to know they could if they were put in an unavoidable situation." Bullying can impact children's emo- tional growth and individual expression. Knowing what to watch for and knowing how to best help are important steps parents can confidently take to get the abuse to stop. Stacey Lutz is a new mom, freelance writer in Wurtsboro who enjoys hiking and geocaching adventures with her son. BULLYING (Continued from Page 13) Anti-Bullying Resources Hudson Valley Anti-Bullying Coalition - Teaching Empathy - Dignity for Students Act - pm_dignity_0512.cfm The Teaching Empathy Institute in Stone Ridge - 687-6207

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