A group of community experts from New Milford recently participated in an anti-bullying forum at The Maxx in town.

The event featured open discussion regarding the signs, preventative measures and solutions one can take in order to respond to acts of bullying.

State Representative Bill Buckbee, R-67th, and New Milford Youth Services served as hosts for the forum.

Participants included Scott Hoffman, health education teacher at Schaghticoke Middle School; SMS Principal Christopher Longo; Leslie Carson, turnaround office consultant in the state Department of Education New Milford Superintendent Josh Smith; Police Chief Shawn Boyne; and Jason O’Connor, youth advocate with New Milford Youth Agency.

“This was a great event and I appreciated the involvement of those who chose to come out and be a part of this important discussion,” said Buckbee.

“Our community has the resources to put an end to the bullying culture that has slowly become the accepted status quo,” he said. “I also want to thank our panelists, who are a testament to the fact that we are all committed to working on creating a healthier environment for our children and families.”

Each panelist was given the opportunity to speak and provide their own perspective on the issue of bullying. Following the panelist discussion, members of the audience were encouraged to pose questions to the panel.

Some of the themes discussed at the forum included:

Establishing communication with school authorities starting with the teacher and progressing to the counselor and other administrative staff including the assistant principal and principal.

Keeping records of reported incidences, including correspondence records and photographs or screen shots.

Collectively coming to conflict resolution. Positive behavior results from opportunities to make amends with others in the community through honorable reintegration.

“It’s obvious that the classic approach to bullying, by simply making an authoritative decision to punish wrongdoing, is failing to work,” Buckbee said. “It’s important for those in authority positions to work with both the victim and aggressor to reconcile conflicts. In turn, this strengthens our community by diminishing opportunities for bullying in the future.”

Buckbee serves on the legislature’s Committee on Children, which focuses on creating public policy to foster growth and education of Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens.