Support Mandatory Bullying Prevention Education within Fall River Public School District

Support Mandatory Bullying Prevention Education within Fall River Public School District

7 have signed. Let’s get to 10!

Why this petition matters

Started by Sierra Schuckert

              Bullying in the school setting comes in many different forms. There is often not enough education for the school staff when it comes to bullying. This is an issue because it can lead to higher rates of student drops outs, attempted or completed suicides, lower grades, poor attendance and in severe cases school shootings (Statistics. NVEEE., 2012). Bullying impacts students of all ages, from preschool through high school, in the early years, it is usually something simple such as name-calling. As children get older, it can become more violent, such as hitting, and cause serious injuries. Ken Paiva from Fall River Reporter reports that 20% of students aged 12-18 experience bullying nationwide. On March 22, 2022, Fall River Reporter reports a parent of a Fall River Schools Student said their child was found unresponsive after swallowing a bunch of pills after months of bullying was too much for her to handle; and in 2019, a Fall River student was successful in ending his life. Also, in March 2022, two girls were attacked as they walked out of a middle school in Fall River, the report was caught on video, you can hear students making sure they “get the view” on camera and laughing after the incident (Rosenfield, 2022).  

            A child can suffer many negative effects from being bullied: The physical health consequences of bullying can be physical injury and can result in long-term physical symptoms such as headaches or sleep disturbances (Rivara, 2016). Children can suffer from somatic symptoms that result from stress or emotional condition, such as anxiety, because of being bullied (Rivara, 2016). Bullying activates the stress system on the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) releasing cortisol (the stress hormone), this increase in cortisol during the day can disrupt the daily rhythm of cortisol, which is elevated in the morning and slowly decreases throughout the day, if it is still increased at night, it can cause a child to have difficulty falling asleep at night and difficulty waking up in the morning (Rivara, 2016). A student can also suffer from decreased academic performance, the negative relation between bullying and academic achievement has been shown to affect students as young as kindergarten and continue through to high school (Rivara, 2016). 

              The first line of defense against bullying in schools is mandatory prevention education within school curricula beginning at elementary school and continuing through high school graduation. By educating students about the impact of bullying as well as how to recognize and prevent incidences of bullying students, faculty, parents, and the community can work together to create a safer school environment that is more conducive to learning.  

            Bullying prevention programs have been shown to be most effective when interventions take place on four levels: school level, classroom level, individual level, and community level (Limber, 2004). School level interventions would include modifying school rules to target bullying behaviors and include systems that reduce perceived barriers for students reporting bullying such as anonymous questionnaires or tip lines. Classroom level modifications include the addition of bullying education modules that could educate students as well as their parents on the physical, somatic, and psychological impacts of bullying as well as how to prevent, recognize, and report bullying. Individual interventions including support for victims of bullying as well as education and interventions for students engaging in bullying. Lastly, the community level engages other members of the community to develop partnerships to prevent bullying and form a community committee for bullying prevention (Limber, 2004).

         When correctly implemented, this four-prong approach has resulted in an upwards of fifty percent reductions in both student-reported incidences of being bullied and bullying others (Waasdorp, 2012) . In addition, programs of this structure have been shown to reduce other negative and antisocial behaviors such as school violence, theft, vandalism, and truancy as well as an increase in positive peer relationships, increased order in the classroom, and more positive attitudes toward school and their education (Melton, 1998).   

By signing this petition, individuals are showing Superintendent Marian Pontes, Mayor Paul Coogan, and the rest of the Fall River School Committee that our community recognizes the need for mandatory anti-bullying education programs in Fall River Schools curriculum. Implementation of an anti-bullying program will lead to safer schools that serve as more positive learning environments for Fall River students to learn and grow. 
Limber, S. P. (2004). Implementation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program: Lessons Learned from the Field. In D. Espelage & S. Swearer (Eds.) Bullying in American Schools: A Social-Ecological Perspective on Prevention and Intervention (pp. 351-363). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Melton, G. B., Limber, S. P., Cunningham, P., Osgood, D. W., Chambers, J, Flerx, V., Henggeler, S., & Nation, M. (1998). Violence among rural youth. Final report to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention 

Paiva, K. (2022, March 7). Another fall river student attempts suicide over bullying. Fall River Reporter. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from  

Rivara, F. (2016, September 14). Consequences of bullying behavior. Preventing Bullying Through Science, Policy, and Practice. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from  

Rosenfield, M. (2022, March 24). Bullying attack caught on camera in Fall River. NECN. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from  

Statistics. NVEEE. (2012, July 31). Retrieved April 3, 2022, from 

Waasdorp T. E., Bradshaw C. P., Leaf P. J. (2012). The impact of schoolwide positive behavioral interventions and supports on bullying and peer rejection: A randomized controlled effectiveness trial. Archive of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 166(2), 149-156. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.755. 

7 have signed. Let’s get to 10!