Parents invited to forum Wednesday to discuss bullying, "mean behaviors"

Trumbull Public Schools and the Anti-Defamation League are reaching out to parents with a forum this week, encouraging a dialogue on bullying and behaviors that can lead to it.

“Rather than having parents call when there is a problem, this is an effort to engage parents in another form — rather than a reactive way,” Bill Mecca, the intervention specialist at Trumbull High, said of the program

Parents of students ranging in age from elementary school to high school are invited the free forum, sponsored by the Trumbull PTSA, at the high school auditorium on Wednesday, Oct. 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Mecca, who is a co-adviser of the Trumbull High Peer Leaders, said the high school and both middle schools have partnered with the ADL in the last few years to offer student assemblies and training to address and prevent what they describe as “mean behavior.” The elementary schools also plan to offer similar programming in the future. These programs complement other school and districtwide programs cultivating responsible and ethical behavior.

The parent program is something new that the schools are piloting.

“We’ve had a lot of success with our student-run assemblies, like Truth about Hate,” Mecca said. “We’ve received feedback that we should have a parent forum as well, similar to the student forums we provide.”

]The student forums are designed to give students the proper information and tools to go from being bystanders to “upstanders or allies,” according to Mecca.

The topic of bullying has received a lot of attention in the last few years, and this forum is designed to assist parents in promoting acceptance, respect and appreciation of differences in children, according to organizers. Topics to be addressed include cyberbullying, and how adults and children can communicate and work together to promote positive school climates.

“We welcome all parents to come with an open mind,” Mecca said.

The forum will include a brief PowerPoint presentation but is designed to facilitate a dialogue. Student Peer Leaders are also invited to the forum and may choose to participate. Mecca said the program is designed to make parents feel comfortable and help parents identify any issues that may arise and respond to them.

When it comes to students in Trumbull, Mecca said he feels many are becoming more aware of how to handle mean behavior and bullying.

“We’ve taken an active role in a variety of ways,” he said. “Giving kids the language and strategy of getting involved behind the scenes. We also discuss the role that social media plays in escalating. How easily things could be misinterpreted with the written words rather than in person.”