Woonsocket school officials say that social media, misinformation is to blame for the problems news

WOONSOCKET – When videos and rumors depicting violence in Woonsocket schools spread online, principals and Supt. Patrick McGee says they want to make it clear that misinformation and social media are guilty of exaggerating issues and causing unnecessary fear among the public.

On March 18, there was a confrontation between many students at Woonsocket High School that was recorded and posted on social media. While circulated online because it involved weapons, news tools confirmed that what was considered a knife was, in fact, just a cell phone. Three students were arrested that day for their involvement in school clashes, and the incident raised questions in the community about how a struggle can get so out of control.

At the Woonsocket School Board meeting on March 23, McGee proposed numbers of reported cases of bullying found in each school between September 2021 and January 2022. Reported cases were compared to a number of cases of bullying found valid, often bringing the true number of incidents to zero. The highest number of bullying cases was at Kevin Coleman Elementary School, in five cases, but was reduced to zero cases at Villa Nova Middle School, Woonsocket High School and the Woonsocket Area Career and Technical Center.

“A lot of times parents will turn up and students will say ‘No, we’re friends.’ The breeze.

At the high school level, principal Jeffrey Goyut said, students are more likely to support a solution than begin the formal process of writing a report. He added that it is important for teachers and principals to have a support team as an early intervention if they see a chance for conflict between students.

“If they hear about a potential situation with more than two students, we try to act proactively and do a test to see how involved they should be,” he said. “It may involve parents, a support team or a principal.”

It is common for students not to also want to “look,” according to Guiot and McGee, and see conflict management themselves as a tool for self-preservation, resulting in the low numbers reported in cases of bullying.

Since the school has been revitalized personally, not only are stories of violence between students spreading online, but the conflict between them is starting online as well. In other cases, a conflict may arise at the school, and then it goes out of proportion online overnight, school officials said.

“In the age of social media, they do not have the ability to get away. Once upon a time there was an opportunity to get away at the end of the day, and time could recover in any situation. There is no way to take a break now unless they choose to,” Gwytt said, stressing social media inescapability.

In addition to students always being connected through social media, he said, parents also learn what they believe is second-hand truth, whether from social media or from the partial truths their child may tell them.

“One person’s version becomes the next person’s version. It does not matter what the truth is … judgments are made even before the facts are known,” Guiot said.

McGee insisted that these were not just problems for Wonsock’s schools, but a bigger social battle.

“We live in a violent society,” he said. “We are doing everything we can to prevent this in our schools and to educate and provide our students with the resources and skills to try not to resort to violence.”

McGee confirmed that teachers are neither encouraging nor discouraged from getting involved in student quarrels, and that it is at the teacher’s discretion to intervene or not whether they are witnessing student violence.

The anti-bullying and conflict resolution models used by schools in Wonsocket are based on restorative practices that focus on communication and empathy rather than ongoing conflict, they said. As a restorative process, students can sit down with each other and with school officials to mediate a conflict. In light of the current attention to physical quarrels, the high school also brings the Institute to Nonviolence, strengthens a strong mentoring program for peers and begins transition programs between schools, which for example will feature an eighth-grade student with a ninth. -Class so that incoming students already have friends when they enter a new school.

“The vast majority of our students are fantastic. They come to school. They come to school to study. They respect,” McGee said. “The vast majority of the parents we work with are involved in their child’s education. They communicate with the schools. They respect. It’s a small part we are constantly involved in. We can provide them with all the support in the world, but if they do not want to get the support we try to give “To them … we are not going to change everyone. We do a lot here to support families, to support students. At the end of the day, the parent is the parent. We are not the parents.”

Goyut also mentioned that students who do the right thing every day feel the criticism as well.

“They want to be proud of the school they go to, they want to be proud of the community they live in, but sometimes it’s framed as a place they do not want to be,” he said.

Hamlet Middle School principal Jennifer Renigaldo said they are starting a partnership with Woonsocket’s boys ‘and girls’ club that will bring organizers to programming schools once a week. She also noted ongoing partnerships with the Community Care Alliance, Connecting Children and Families, Riverzedge Arts and other social development organizations in the city.

“We spend 90% of our time on 5% of the population. We do not have time to celebrate all the wins. There are many more victories,” said Luca.

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