I was very upset to read the article in the April 15 Jewish Chronicle titled, “Area Jewish Schools tackle bullying.” I thought your coverage of the day schools was not balanced or fair; especially as regards to Community Day School.
It is clear that bullying is a problem in all schools and that each of the Jewish day schools is dealing with this problem in various ways. However, in the article, only complaining parents at Community Day were singled out, which made it appear as if the problem is worse at Community Day and not as effectively addressed.
My daughters attended Community Day School from 1989 through 2004. They received an excellent education there and were well prepared academically and socially for high school and college where they have excelled. Throughout their years at Community Day School, Jewish values regarding behavior and respect of others were emphasized as being of equal importance as academics. When issues arose regarding disrespectful behavior of some students, we brought this to the attention of the school administrators and the problems were always dealt with to our satisfaction.
School takes bullying seriously
The April 15 article, “Area Jewish schools tackle bullying,” did not do Community Day School justice on how hard it works to make the environment one built on respect and responsibility, which are two critical components in combating bullying.
From my daughter’s first day at Community Day School, she has been taught to treat others with respect, take responsibility for her actions, and to be a mensch. These sentiments are woven into the fiber of Community Day School and all of its teachings. She and her classmates were rewarded for their good deeds and helpful behavior whether small or big. I was in the classroom when one of her classmates got to wear the “mensch” necklace and she wore it with pride as it was, and is still, a great honor. As my daughter progresses in the school, these behaviors continue to be rewarded and championed.
During “No Name Calling Week” the middle-schoolers taught the younger grades about bullying and why it is harmful. They also did age appropriate activities and crafts to drive the point home. It was successful as I heard all about what a bully is and why it is bad to be one; also what should be done if you are being bullied.
I can’t speak to the older grades and the issues that occur (although a friend of ours with older children said that their kids came home wondering why there was a “no name calling” week since they did not have it in their classes), but I can say that I believe that Community Day takes this issue very seriously and is doing all that it can from the moment that a child enters the school in kindergarten to teach an understanding of what it is and the impact it has on others.
I believe that bullying can never be fully eliminated from any school, but a school can do its part to bring awareness about the topic and swift action in dealing with the parties involved. I do believe that Community Day School is doing its best to minimize bullying and look forward as they continue to innovate new ways and evolve their policies on the topic. I am proud to be a Community Day School parent.
(Editor’s note: The Chronicle received a third letter from Laura Kaplan of Squirrel Hill echoing the same position.)