Parents of school-age children, particularly elementary and middle school children, have a unique opportunity Tuesday evening. Connecticut’s Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Greenwich are co-sponsoring a workshop on bullying that’s designed to give parents the tools they need to protect their children from bullying and being bullied.
The workshop, which takes place October 1, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Greenwich Town Hall, will be conducted by ADL’s Education Director, Marji Lipshez-Shapiro, who has been working with young people in bullying prevention efforts for nearly 20 years.
According to Lipshez-Shapiro, a unique aspect of Tuesday’s program is the involvement of Greenwich High School students who will be assisting her in leading a dialogue on the topic: “What children wish their parents knew about name-calling and bullying.”
Parents will learn important strategies for preventing bullying from Lipshez-Shapiro and will gain wisdom from experienced student leaders. These students have all been engaged in the work of bullying prevention through ADL’s “Names Can Really Hurt Us” program that has been at Greenwich High School for 13 years.
Each year, ADL implements 15-20 Names programs in Connecticut. “GHS has been our longest and most consistent school,” said Lipshez-Shapiro. “Carol Sutton has been an exemplary coordinator, and the ‘Names team’ of students and teachers has been strongly committed very year.”
ADL has also implemented its Step Up! Program in all three Greenwich middle schools, and has worked with Greenwich parents to offer parent programs since 2002. “Most recently,” said Lipshez-Shapiro, “I have presented programs to the parents at Old Greenwich, Parkway and Riverside.”
ADL’s Julia’s Star program for 5th graders, facilitated by Greenwich High School students, has been implemented at Parkway, Old Greenwich and Julian Curtiss schools. ADL has also presented anti-bias programs to all Greenwich faculty and administrators.
According to Lipshez-Shapiro, Greenwich was one of the first communities to offer an anti-bias program for Greenwich community leaders. This was done over 20 years ago in a joint effort that included the Junior League, YWCA and other community organizations.
“No one program is a ‘fix’ for issues of bullying and bias,” said Lipshez-Shapiro. “What is important is that all aspects of the school community become involved in creating safe school environments – students of all ages, teachers, administrators, parents and community leaders.” According to Lipshez-Shapiro, parents play an essential role in creating such safe environments.
There’s been too much criticism of the school district, said Lipshez-Shapiro, referring to the criticism following the tragic suicide of GHS student, Bartlomeiej “Bart” Palosz on August 27.”People are in pain,” she said, “But we must all ask ourselves what we can do – not point fingers.”