Strong School Faces Cyberbullying


In response to complaints about cyber-bullying from students and parents at Strong Middle School, the Board of Education’s Well-Being Committee discussed the climate at the school, during their meeting, on October 5th, 2021.

The school has been a hot topic when it comes to student interaction on social media. After hearing reports of cyberbullying through the app “TikTok,” mostly during the spring and early summer, Cheryl Gonzalez, the new principal at school, told the board that she talked to students about the issue and even created a TikTok account herself, according to the October 5th meeting minutes.

Maura Caramanello, a RSD 13 Board of Education member from Middlefield, reported that she had a personal connection with the ongoing issue at Strong School, and nothing had been done, according to the minutes of the October 5th meeting. According to Gonzalez, Trooper Hesseltine, the School Resource Officer, needed to obtain a warrant from a judge to “go after the IP address” and no judge would sign off because there is “no threat.”

According to the minutes of the Board of Education meeting on October 13th, Samatha Beaudoin, a parent in town, highlighted how she sent a TikTok video to the school. She mentioned that she also talked to the school about in-person bullying and she “didn’t feel heard.” She also mentioned that her children have gone to therapy due to the bullying.

Gonzalez also noted at the October 5th meeting that she has talked to students about the issues and claimed that students are calling it a “mystery.” The Board acknowledges that they are aware of this issue, and emphasizes the importance of communication between students and parents. 

Chairman Bob Moore of the Board of Education said that he thinks” this is a lot more than just one incident and it’s important for the Board to keep in touch with the principals.” He also noted that it is important for kids to understand the significance of what they post on social media and “has faith” in Mrs. Gonzalez to help solve the issue.

Nora O’Connell, one of the Student Advisors from Coginchaug Regional High present, said at the October 5th meeting that teachers should be trained to deal with these types of issues because social media is a very prevalent part of our community. There has also been talk of involving high school students, in the National Honors Society, athletics and music programs, to help educate their younger peers on the consequences of social media. 

Recently, Gonzalez said that Strong School had a “presentation by Mr. Fitzgerald, Student Affairs Coordinator, and Trooper Hesseline, followed by a lesson in advisory.” She also mentioned that there is an “expert speaker, Scott Driscoll,” coming into the high school and middle school to speak to the students which will be followed by a “meeting for parents that evening.” 

Gonzalez said in an email, “We are keeping an eye out and hope that by educating our students and their parents that it will remain that way.”