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LETTERS: Bullying in the schools

In a Ray Bradbury's short story "The Playground," a father tried to protect his son from the horrors of the schoolyard. He wondered how childhood could be considered the best time of life, when it was the most "barbaric time when there were no police to protect you, only parents preoccupied with themselves and their taller world."

I admire the courage of the four kids - Gavin, Maria, Jake and Sam - who gave voice to their experiences ["In their own words: Battling the bullies," News, Nov. 14]. I wonder what the consequences will be for them, for publicly revealing their suffering and the powerlessness of adults to protect them.

We all know that the boundaries of the schoolyard now extend into people's homes through cyberspace, virtually obliterating any sense of sanctuary that children once found in the evenings, on weekends and during the summer.

Bullying is intensified today by a broad decline in civility. We live in a world of grown-up people who do not think twice about trampling personal boundaries through rude, intimidating and obnoxious behavior.

If we cannot turn back the hands of time, we can at least slow down and teach our children, after we remind ourselves, the importance of putting a reflective pause between impulse and action.

Andrew Malekoff

Long BeachEditor's note: The writer is the executive director of North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center.

I understand that many schools claim to have a "zero tolerance" policy on bullying, but bullying continues. This shows that the schools are not doing enough. What are the punishments or consequences for the bullies and all those that stand by and laugh or participate in one way or another? Most of the time the punishment is just a slap on the wrist.

Most important, where are these kids' parents? Is the school informing them that their child is harassing another kid? Parents should be held accountable for what their children do.

If we find that our children are harassing or bullying another, especially online, we have the right to take away their computers, phones and other privileges. Children who use the Internet to harass, degrade or bully another should not have access to the Internet.

Perhaps the schools should also require those children who are bullying to perform some kind of community service in order to have a good standing in school.

Leonor Molina

Rockville Centre

Sunday's Newsday contained several articles and opinion pieces on important issues in education, including bullying prevention and helping schools that are struggling with academic underachievement ["Trying to find balance," Editorial]. It should be noted that these two issues are related.

The latest research shows that schools that implement comprehensive, schoolwide social-emotional learning programs and character education improve academic performance as well as school climate. Students who feel safe, comfortable and valued are able to focus more productively, work cooperatively and make better decisions about their learning.

Gloria S. Rothenberg

MerrickEditor's note: The writer is a clinical and school psychologist.

Although I applaud Newsday for its coverage on the issue of bullying in the schools, I must express dissatisfaction regarding the exclusion of important facts pertaining to the Long Beach School District.

Our district prides itself on being proactive in the area of preventing bullying and promoting mutual respect. We have a multifaceted districtwide character education program with ongoing initiatives at every building level. Each school has its own activities and programs.

For example, the high school recently hosted a special multimedia presentation that encouraged tolerance, and the high school and middle school have been participating for several years in Challenge Day, a national program that helps students celebrate diversity, truth and full expression. These are just some examples.

Our district does not tolerate threats, harassment or bullying of any type.

Robert Greenberg

Lido BeachEditor's note: The writer is the superintendent of Long Beach public schools.