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An answer to bullying

Saugus Karate/Kung-Fu offers week of free karate for any Saugus student this month

By Mark E. Vogler

HOW TO BEAT A BULLY: Left to right, Saugus Karate Kung-Fu owner and chief instructor Jason Scaduto and Roseann Luongo, a teacher and communications director of Saugus Karate, talk about the Saugus-based business’ efforts to fight bullying in Saugus Public Schools. The studio is offering a week of free karate for any Saugus student throughout this month. (Saugus Advocate Photo by Mark E. Vogler)

Roseann Luongo still remembers the shocking report she received two years ago about an incident in her son’s kindergarten class at the Waybright School.

“I learned about a kid who cut my son’s shorts with scissors,” Luongo recalled of a potential bullying situation.

“They managed it right away. I feel it was communicated adequately and resolved,” she said.

But if school officials hadn’t responded as they did, her son risked becoming another victim of bullying in a situation that could have escalated into something worse.

Luongo, a mother of three children in the Saugus Public Schools, said she believes there are steps that parents can take to discourage and protect themselves from bullying they may encounter in the classroom, on the playground or on the school bus. She is working with Saugus Karate/Kung-Fu owner and chief instructor Jason Scaduto to promote a free one-week program that Scaduto is offering all this month in his academy at 304 Central St., Saugus.

“October is anti-bully awareness month and in honor of that we will be offering a FREE week of classes to each and every Saugus Public School student where they will learn anti-bullying management strategies,” according to a flyer that Saugus Karate/Kung-Fu is circulating.

Luongo teaches kickboxing and is communications director at the academy.

About 150 kids from ages 4 ½ to 16, are taking programs at Saugus Karate/Kung-Fu, according to Scaduto, who notes that 65 to 70 percent are Saugus students.

“We started doing it because of the need for it,” Scaduto said.

“Before the flyer went out, I got a call from a woman who told me about her son in kindergarten who was getting bullied by a fourth grader … What the heck is a fourth grader doing picking on a kid in kindergarten? You know, a lot of our kids don’t want to tell their parents because they don’t want to enrage their parents or they don’t want to be called ‘a tattletale.’ We teach the kids that you have to tell the parents,” he said.

Bullying is the leading cause of suicide in children 11 through 16, according to Scaduto, a Lynnfield native who has owned Saugus Karate/Kung-Fu since 1988.

He stresses that in his program, teachers focus on the core principles of Martial Arts: self-control, etiquette, effort, character and sincerity. A portion of each class is devoted to bully-prevention strategies and techniques to help students resolve conflict in a positive and nonaggressive way.

Luongo said the academy’s goal is to reach about 20 percent of the student population. There were 45 students who took the class last year, she said.

“I think we’re seeing a higher incidence of reporting. But I imagine it’s still underreported,” Luongo said.

“What we’re trying to do is instill confidence in a child so they can feel empowered enough to manage issues that come their way. We’re just trying to help the kids of Saugus one kid at a time,” she said.

The flyer circulated by Saugus Karate offers the following tips:

 

For parents:

  • Talk with your child.
  • Coach them in conflict resolution and create an action plan.
  • Identify resources together.
  • Document bullying incidents.
  • Support and empower your child.

 

For kids:

  • Talk with your parent or teacher.
  • Ask the bully to stop.
  • Work with an adult to help identify solutions.
  • Manage your reaction.
  • Make a pact to not bully others.

 

For more information about the free, weeklong program being offered, email SaugusKarate@gmail.com or call 781-233-9791.

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