HHS Responds to New Bullying Law

Sabrina Mohsin, Staff Writer

Hawthorne High School students and faculty have received information about the new anti-bullying law affecting all students, teachers and staff in New Jersey schools. Teachers, freshmen, and sophomores attended orientations about bullying while the rest of the school body was informed about the school’s policy on bullying through daily announcements.

The assembly for freshmen and sophomores was led by Mrs. Lorraine Powell, the district anti-bullying coordinator. At this assembly, students became aware of the negative effects of bullying. The assembly was held during Respect Week.

New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, proposed the anti-bullying law after Rutgers student, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide after he was bullied. The law was passed on January 6, 2011. Now, all New Jersey’s 616 district schools have to file paperwork when a bullying case is present.

“I don’t find the paperwork overwhelming,” said Jen Basilone, guidance counselor atHHS. “It’s important to document what’s going on. The process can be time consuming andoverwhelming, but completing the paperwork puts everything in black and white.”

The bullying law has not only affected teachers, but has also affected students.

“The law makes us realize how bullying can hurt a person,” said Stephanie Doot, sophomore at HHS. “After the orientation, I learned that people have personal problems that should be taken into account when bullying someone.” The bullying law requires all district schools to hold information orientations for staff members.

“The workshops are effective because the staff goes over the requirements andprocedures that need to be followed,” said Matthew Zaolino, biology teacher at HHS. “With tragic public events, like Tyler Clementi’s death,” added Basilone, “bullying is a current issue.Yes we have workshops because it is required by law, but because bullying is subtle, the staff should know what to do.”

The staff orientations enforce rules that need to be followed by law. Zaolino noted, “With anything based on the law, it is necessary to comply with the rules. It needs to be analyzed and explained to those that are required to comply with the law.”

At HHS, daily announcements during Respect Week reminded students of the need forawareness on this subject.

“The announcements were everyday reminders about respecting each other,” said Allison Speranza, a senior at HHS. Basilone added, “The goal is to bring awareness, which I think there is at HHS on a daily basis. It is a reminder to be mindful of what we are doing.”