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North Carolina Conference Focuses on Bullying

North Carolina Conference Focuses on Bullying


Charlotte, N.C.—When Charlotte’s three Jewish schools decided to initiate a joint fundraising project last year, they all agreed that a program for both parents and educators would best suit their goals. As a result, the Joined in Education symposium was born, offering two days of speakers, classes and workshops.

This year’s program, “Stand Up to Bullying,” featured Lee Hirsch, director of the documentary Bully. He and other speakers discussed the film, as well as The Bully Project, a nationwide anti-bullying campaign. More than 600 people from the community attended Hirsch’s talk last week, and another 225 participated in workshops the following day.

Lee Hirsch urges parents and teachers to stand up to bullying
Lee Hirsch urges parents and teachers to stand up to bullying

“We live in a ‘me’ generation, filled with children who do not necessarily realize the impact that they have on others,” says Mariashi Groner, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Charlotte and director of the Charlotte Jewish Day School, one of the schools that organized the symposium. “We really need to encourage and empower kids to stop these behaviors. And it’s best to start teaching them how to treat one another while they’re younger because it’s hard to undo [their behavioral patterns] once they’ve grown.”

According to Groner, bullying can be detected even in preschools. That’s why the program is relevant for parents and educators of children of all ages, she notes. The communitywide symposium drew attendees from both private and public schools, mainly because, as Groner puts it, “this issue crosses all races, religions and economic groups.”

“Each year we try to bring educationally relevant workshops for parents and teachers in the entire community,” says Elka Bernstein, director of the Charlotte Jewish Preschool, one of the other schools involved in JIE. “If you teach your children to speak up to a bully, then bullies will go away. We hope to create a community of people who stand up against bullies.”

For Amy Mullen, whose children attend CJDS, Jewish education itself can be a way to prevent bullying.

“One of the reasons I choose to send my children to day school is for these types of issues to be taught in everyday life,” says Mullen, who believes this is not sufficiently taught in public or secular schools. “A stronger connection to Judaism is most beneficial in terms of how to treat others. We can use Torah to teach our children how to stand up for themselves and how not to treat people inappropriately.”

Donna Lerner, whose two teenaged children are graduates of the Charlotte Jewish Day School, hoped to gain practical tools for dealing with bullying, even though she has never dealt with it firsthand.

“I want to be able to help my children deal with this issue as they get older because the truth is, it’s not just a school issue; it’s something you deal with your entire life,” she says.

Bullying is a new topic for Heather Salam, whose children attend both Charlotte Jewish Day School and the Jewish preschool.

“I just want to be aware of what’s out there because it’s a real problem,” says Salam. “I want to know what to look for, and this program helped me to figure out a way to start a dialogue about it with my kids.”

It is the organizers' hope that the symposium will positively affect the Charlotte community at large.

“People need to be educated on creating a kinder environment. Yes, kids will be kids, but they do need proper guidance and discipline,” says Gale Osborne, director of advancement at Charlotte Jewish Day School. “As Judaism teaches us, one good deed begets another. It’s a fundamental commandment to treat each other well, so even a little bit of growth in this area can effect a great change.”

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I was bullied Brooklyn NY February 7, 2013

RE: Jewish schools and bullies That is terrible what happened to your son.
I had to go to public schools where bullies were everywhere.
Bullies almost always make sure they have some advantage over their victims by being bigger or having martial arts or street fighting skills their victims don't have or by having a lot of friends around them or some kind of weapons or some combination of those.
I had one bully who was well over 6 feet tall when I was about 5 feet tall and he said he had a criminal record as long as my arm and wasn't afraid of the police.
If bullying isn't stopped (not just 'addressed'...Which is a fancy way of saying, not much would be done, about it) whether in public school or in Jewish schools then the evil in the world will just grow unless frum people stop bullying as they would stop non kosher food being sold or given out in Chassidic schools. Reply

Anonymous Us January 31, 2013

Jewish schools and bullies My son attended Jewish schools in the UK. He was bullied so terribly. The teachers did nothing for my son. Even blaming him. He was cyberbullied, hit, punched, but the other children and their parents remained silent. The police were called. And still it continued. These children were all under 11. Their parents were like lemmings, only interested in laughing at others.
The bullies need to be taken out of schools and put in places especially for sick twisted minds. These are the actions needed to be taken . Bullies don't just wake up one day, they are born vicious. I can't be vicious because I'm not. It's simple: Wicked children grow into wicked adults. Until the rates of suicides are taken notice of, this evil behavior will continue. Why is it ok to torture others, to hurt, to devalue? Why is it ok to tell the victim to grow thicker skins? Reply

I was bullied. Brooklyn January 29, 2013

Teaching kids, to bully others. I once saw a boy tell his father that his sister had hit him, and he yelled at his father to "get her back" .
At first, the father resisted saying; "We don't take revenge".
But with the boy yelling it over and over the father finally touched the girl ever so lightly so she probably didn't even feel it much, let alone feel she had been 'hit' at all.
But the boy saw it and the father said "OK I got her back" or something along those lines.
When I asked the father how he could do something like showing the boy that screaming enough would get him what he wanted and get 'revenge', the father responded to me "I'm just not a disciplinarian", at which point I dropped the subject.
But the fact is the father was teaching his son discipline in a way. That is, he taught the kid the discipline of persevering till the desired revenge was finally wrought.
This boy will likely be more arrogant through life then if he had been firmly told no to 'revenge'. Reply

Tell it like it is in Boca RAton Boca January 29, 2013

An assumption is that everything is theirs. Back when I grew up in the 70s, even though I was an only child my parents made sure I didn't get what I wanted all the time. I'm less of a bully; usually I would never be a bully.
How about raising a generation of people who want to be more kind than they have to be? To me extra kindness is human-like and very Jewish. Anything less than kindness is sad, and sometimes revolting. There are public & private schools that have zero tolerance for bullying. Reply

Anonymous January 29, 2013

my take is we give too much attention from a young age. we give give give give give. so then their minds form the assumption that everything is theirs'. that is what bullying usually is- "hey that is mine" and they might push someone else to get it. Reply

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