The shocking, astounding and absolutely unforgivable NJ Department of Education report that shows the Highlands School District ranks 13 in bullying reports among all the elementary and high schools in New Jersey, and the first of all Monmouth County public schools outside of an Asbury Park charter school, requires immediate investigation and intense questioning of the Board of Education. The Board must answer how and why the borough had this frightening statistic in 2017, the last year recorded, and what it has done about it since.
It also begs the question as to whether the local school board has posted this information, as required by law, and where and for how long it has been posted.
What makes these figures so horrifically more startling is another fact ... Atlantic Highlands, the neighboring school district, where the neighbor kids play together with the Highlands kids, have fun together, know each other and in many cases are related to each other, had absolutely NO bullying cases.
In a school with a larger population than Highlands, there was not a single report of bullying.
One more terrifying fact Highlands residents should be looking at. Henry Hudson Regional, the 7 through 12 grade school where all the kids from Highlands and Atlantic Highlands attend, ranked up there in the top twenty-five of schools across the state that reported bullying.
Henry Hudson, in the state report, ranked 25th across the state, or twenty-three cases of bullying reported for every 1,000 students. Statistically, in 2017, that meant there were seven reports of bullying at Henry Hudson. There were six at Highlands, or thirteen per 1,000 students.
Does it follow through that when they get to Henry Hudson it is the Highlands kids who do the bullying?
Is there any greater demand than that for a regionalization of the K through twelve district?
The state has recognized bullying as a serious problem for school age children and a few years ago started paying attention to it. Legislators worked up specific names and descriptions for bullying, passed an Anti-Bullying Law and explained for schools to be found guilty of it, it does not necessarily have to have occurred in the school. Nor does it have to be repeated to be considered bullying.
According to the state, “A child being bullied is the target of unwanted or uninvited aggression by a person who has a desire to hurt someone. It is one-sided and the child being bullied often has no ability to make it stop.” It’s more than, and far different from simple conflict when kids can manage behavior on an equal keel and have an ability to make it stop when they want. Conflict can be healthy and educational..
Nor is bullying necessarily physical harm. It can be name calling, teasing, threats, rumors, verbal assaults, relational such as excluding a youngster from playing games or participating in activities with others. It can be cyber bullying…that gossip thing again.
Nor can bullying be considered a sign of any economical differences. Keansburg, with just over 9 in 1,000 youngsters bullied in the state report, ranked 143 in the state, compared to Highlands’13th. Union Beach ranked 244. The Monmouth County Vocational Schools which draw kids from throughout Monmouth County, ranked 430 with 2.7 cases per 1,000 of bullying reported. Henry Hudson, remember, was 25th in the state.
Atlantic Highlands, with no cases of bullying reported, shared those protective figures with Monmouth Beach, Spring Lake and Monmouth Beach, among others.
The schools across the state are all about talking about critical race theory, how to teach children how to get along with other children or adults they may or may not encounter during the rest of their lives.
It would seem to be lessons about living with their neighbors whom they have known for years might be a better place to start, that like all things, charity begins at home. And parents, first of all, have to set better examples for their children. If adults cannot learn and teach their children common courtesy, there’s little hope they can teach anything else, even if mandated by the Board of Education.
Highlands ... You have a genuine problem on your hands.
Your children need better protection and more safety while they are in your Public School, on its grounds, enroute to school, or in the company of others who bully them because of anything that has happened concerning the school.
It also begs the question. Where are the children in Highlands learning the bullying?
Do they see the comments and accusations their parents make on Facebook and other social media?
Do they hear their parents put down or publicly gossip about people they don’t like or fear?
Do they think they are emulating their parents who hide behind false names, fake profiles, make up stories, or blatantly lie in the safe confines of their homes while protected by the anonymity of a computer keyboard ?
It would be my strong suggestion you start asking an awful lot of questions and get some very straight and honest answers from your Board of Education and the candidates running for office ... along with a positive plan for how to make life happier for a child.