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Family sends anti-bully message

Takes pledges to school as new law moves to governor

Gaige Cote, left, and Garrett Smith show support for their elder siblings at West Street School Thursday, wearing “no bullying” T-shirts created by Garrett’s father, Randy Smith. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
May 02, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Phelicia Soto has had enough of being bullied. So she and a few friends started a campaign at West Street School to do something about it.

Carrying clipboards of anti-bullying pledges for their peers to sign, four of them came to school Thursday in distinctive white T-shirts featuring the universal symbol for "no" surrounding two children fighting.

Her mother, Kim Renaud Smith, said this idea was in response to a situation that started in January. Then, Phelicia started being targeted by another girl. Over time, Renaud said, her daughter was pushed, hit, pulled out of her seat, insulted and one day came home with "a red mark on her face."

Students reporting such incidents, she said, are routinely told to "just ignore it or tell us [i.e. teachers] and we'll take care of it." But nothing happened, so the family chose its own approach and printed a bunch of T-shirts.

"We just wanted to do something to make more people aware of it," Renaud said. "… Maybe some kids don't realize they're being bullies and need to be educated."

The school system has also started an internal effort with the same goal. At Tuesday's School Committee meeting, Charlton Street School Principal Bryant Montigny said the three elementary schools were hosting student assemblies on the subject, and all of them will update their handbooks to include the state's new anti-bullying law.

For more on this story, please see Monday's Southbridge Evening News.

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