Hazing, Bullying Policy & Interventions

Anti-Hazing Policy

Purpose/ Intent:

To clearly communicate the definition, criminal nature and consequences of hazing and related activities and to establish communication, educational and treatment processes to minimize and prevent hazing activities.

Pursuant to Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Anti-Hazing Law Chapter 269: Section 17 – 19; Hillcrest Educational Centers, Inc. prohibits any acts of organizing or participating in Hazing.

Legal Consequences:

Whoever is a principal organizer or participant in the crime of hazing, as defined herein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than three thousand dollars or by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than one year, or both such fine and imprisonment.

Definition of Hazing

The term “hazing” as used in this section and in sections eighteen and nineteen, shall mean any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization, whether on public or private property, which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person. Such conduct shall include whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of any food, liquor, beverage, drug or other substance, or any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical health or safety of any such student or other person, or which subjects such student or other person to extreme mental stress, including extended deprivation of sleep or rest or extended isolation.

Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section to the contrary, consent shall not be available as a defense to any prosecution under this action.


Chapter 269: Section 18. Failure to report hazing

Whoever knows that another person is the victim of hazing as defined in section seventeen and is at the scene of such crime shall, to the extent that such person can do so without danger or peril to himself or others, report such crime to an appropriate law enforcement official as soon as reasonably practicable. Whoever fails to report such crime shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars.

Hillcrest Educational Centers, Inc. (Hillcrest) Responsibility:

  •         Hillcrest will provide a copy of Chapter 269 Sections 17-19 annually to current staff and to all newly employed staff. Hillcrest will further provide training regarding the hazards of hazing and the criminal nature and consequence of organizing, participating in or failing to report hazing activities as defined in Section 17.
  •         Hillcrest will provide a copy of Chapter 269 Sections 17-19 annually to all students and to all newly admitted students. Hillcrest will further provide classroom and/or small group education and discussion regarding the hazards of hazing and the criminal nature and consequence of organizing, participating in or failing to report hazing activities as defined in Section 17.
  •          Hillcrest shall file, at least annually by October 1st, a report with the board of education, certifying that it has complied with its responsibility to inform each student of the provisions of Chapter 269 Sections 17 – 19.  Further that Hillcrest has adopted a disciplinary policy with regard to the organizers and participants of hazing, and that such policy has been set forth with appropriate emphasis in the student handbook or similar means of communicating the institution’s policies to its students and staff.



The school expects that all members of the school community will treat each other in a civil manner and with respect for differences.

  1.         POLICY
  2.         It is the policy of the Hillcrest Educational Centers, herein after referred to as HEC, to provide a learning and working atmosphere for students and employees free from bullying, hazing, harassment, and intimidation. Such action may occur on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, genetics, disability, or for any other reason.
  3.         It is the responsibility of every staff member, student, parent and legal guardian to recognize acts of bullying and take appropriate action to ensure that the applicable policies and procedures of HEC are implemented.  It is additionally the responsibility of the HEC to record and keep data, monitoring the prevalence of bullying issues to assist in the biennial review.
  4.         It is a violation of this policy for any staff member, or for any student to engage in bullying in school or to fail to report or otherwise take reasonable corrective measures when they become aware of an incident of bullying.  All employees are mandated to report all cases of bullying, as required by this policy and state law.


  1.         We will not tolerate any unlawful or disruptive behavior, including any form of bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation, in our school buildings, on school grounds, or in school related activities.
  2.         Any employee or student who believes that he or she has been subjected to bullying has the right to file a complaint and to receive prompt and appropriate handling of the complaint. We will investigate promptly all reports and complaints of bullying, cyberbullying, and retaliation, and take prompt action to end that behavior and restore the target’s sense of safety..
  3.         The Program Directors / Program Managers shall be responsible for assisting employees and students seeking guidance or support in addressing matters relating to any form of bullying.
  4.         If an Individualized Education Program (IEP) indicates that a child has a disability which affects “social skills development” or the child is “vulnerable to bullying or teasing because of the child’s disability” the IEP shall address the skills/proficiencies needed to avoid and respond to these issues.
  5.         DEFINITIONS

“Bullying” means repeated, unwelcome, written, verbal, or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, by one or more individuals, directed  

at a target that

(i) causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target’s property;

(ii) places the target in reasonable fear of harm to himself or of damage to his property; (iii) creates a hostile environment at the school for the target;

(iv) infringes on the rights of the target at school; or (

  1. v) materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of school.

“Cyber-bullying” means bullying through the use of technology or electronic       devices such as telephones, cell phones, computers and the internet. It includes but is not limited to, email, instant messages, and internet postings. See M.G.L. c. 71, s 370 for the legal definition of cyberbullying.

“Hostile Environment” means, a situation in which bullying causes the school   environment to be permeated with intimidation,  ridicule and/or insult that is sufficiently  severe or  pervasive to alter the condition of a student’s education.

“Aggressor”:  Is a person(s) who engages in bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation.

“Target”:  Is a person(s) against whom bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation has been perpetrated.

“Retaliation”:  Is any form of intimidation, reprisal, or harassment, directed against a  person(s) who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of   bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying.

“Staff”:  includes, but is not limited to, educators, administrators, counselors, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, athletic coaches, advisors to extracurricular activities, support staff, or paraprofessionals.

Hillcrest operates three residential treatment and one non-residential therapeutic special education programs in Berkshire County for severely emotionally disturbed and behaviorally disordered youth.


Our mission at Hillcrest Educational Centers is to facilitate the social, emotional, intellectual, and physical growth of our students through the development of new skills that will enable them to succeed in their home community.

to prevent or respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing. Hillcrest is different from other public and/or private schools in that its students are typically admitted because they have exhibited severely aggressive behaviors, often including bullying.  Hillcrest’s treatment/intervention approach is based on the premise challenging behaviors are the result of chronic abuse/neglect and/or developmental disabilities.  At Hillcrest, we strive to help our students gain an understanding into their treatment issues and provide them with the skills they need to cope with their everyday stressors in a non-violent, constructive manner.

Anti-Bullying Statement:

Hillcrest understands that there are a number of factors that make our students vulnerable to bullying.   We will take specific steps to create a safe, supportive environment for all of our students, and provide them with the skills, knowledge, and strategies

We will not tolerate any unlawful or disruptive behavior, including any form of bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation, in our school buildings, on school grounds, or in school-related activities.  We will investigate promptly all reports and complaints of bullying, cyber-bullying, and retaliation, and take prompt action to end that behavior and restore the target’s sense of safety.  We will support this commitment in all aspects of our school community, including curricula, instructional programs, staff development, extracurricular activities, and parent or guardian involvement.

Our Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan (“Plan”) is a comprehensive approach to bullying and we are committed to working with students, staff, families, law enforcement agencies, and the community to prevent violence.  In consultation with these constituencies, we have established this Plan for preventing, intervening, and responding to incidents of bullying, cyber-bullying, and retaliation.  Campus Administration is responsible for the implementation and oversight of the Plan.

Preventative Components:

There are basic components to our treatment approach, physical environment, and campus structure that naturally insure the prevention of bullying and cyber-bullying including, but not limited to:

  •         High student-to-staff ratios (no less than 6:1, and often 3:1). Students are kept within eyesight of staff at all times.
  •         All students (not at Housatonic Academy) receive weekly individual therapy where they are provided a safe environment to disclose incidents of bullying.
  •         All students participate in regular group therapy that addresses issues related to social skill development, assertiveness, self-esteem, violence, safety, etc.
  •         Cell phones are prohibited.
  •         Students do not have access to computers and/or the internet without direct adult supervision.
  •         All living and classroom spaces are under video surveillance for added security and safety.
  •         All campus staff are trained and certified in our two major treatment/intervention programs – Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) and Skills For Life (SFL), which promote therapeutic responses to any threat of aggressive and/or bullying behavior.  Both programs include structured processes for preventing and responding to instances of violence and/or bullying.  (see Appendices A and B)
  •         All pre-meditated acts of aggression, including bullying, are subject to a Panel Review of administrators, clinicians, teachers, and other relevant staff to determine corrective action/consequences ranging from relationship repair to the involvement of the local authorities.


After You Leave Housatonic Academy

Many students will build strong relationships with the students and staff at Housatonic Academy. After you leave our program, you are welcome to visit and share your successes and struggles with the staff here, or just “check in.” We also solidly support you to develop new, healthy relationships in your new school setting and in the community and we will always wish you the best of luck in all of your endeavors. If you would like to return for a visit, please contact us to set up a day and time. Phone: (413) 443-2367.

Clinical Services

Housatonic Academy is a highly structured environment designed to help students stabilize problematic behavior, learn new skills to succeed and then transition to a less structured environment. Housatonic employs a multi-disciplinary team approach in helping each individual. The School Psychologist/Clinician will coordinate assessments, plan meetings, have open communication with collaterals (outside resources: DMH, DDS, MRC, DCF, LEA, etc.), to help develop behavior plans and meet weekly with students in a group setting.

Family Involvement


Housatonic Academy will work closely with your parents/guardians and caregivers.  We want to build a strong relationship with your family because we know that having family involved in your schooling and treatment will help you succeed.  We strive to share information about your academic achievements and behaviors (both positive and negative).  Communication between the school and your family is a great way for you to get the recognition that you deserve for the successes and struggles that you have worked through each day at school.  Parents/guardians are encouraged to communicate with the teachers, clinicians and administrators.  This can occur via phone calls (after 3 p.m. when possible), email or written communication.  While at the Housatonic Academy, we will work with you in connecting or creating the supports that will help you succeed in your endeavors.

The Family Strong Committee is a committee that meets at least once per month to develop interventions to strengthen the relationships that Housatonic Academy staff have with families.  The committee hosts monthly events in which families are invited to come to the school to participate in a fun activity with their child and HA staff.  Family members are welcome and encouraged to join this committee.

The last week of each month is “Open Door” week.  During this week, families are encouraged to schedule a 2-hour block of time to come to the school and spend time with their child in the classroom.  Family members must schedule this time at least one week in advance and attend a brief (30-minute) orientation before participating in “Open Door” week.

Student Support Center


The Student Support Center (SCC) is an area that students may utilize to gain control of themselves, take space, to talk about an issue of particular concern and to problem solve and develop strategies for managing their behavior most effectively. Students may ask to utilize the space or staff may ask students to utilize the space. The time spent in The Student Support Center should be kept to a minimum. The Student Support Center is a catcher’s mitt, designed to catch kids, talk them through a particular concern or event, and return them to class as quickly as possible, with new strategies for managing their behavior, minimizing the loss of time in class. The SSC is to help students work through any issues by using a skills development technique with staff assistance.

The Relaxation Station and Movement Room are rooms intended to meet students’ sensory integration needs.  These rooms are equipped with a variety of sensory tools that students may use.  The purpose of the Relaxation Station and Movement room is to help students increase self-regulation skills, encourage and develop imagination and develop sensory skills.

The Individualized Education Program


Every student at Housatonic Academy has an Individualized Education Program that identifies strengths, needs and sets specific goals that must be met so that the student may return to the sending district in a timely manner. As part of our skill development system, we will, as a team, identify the precise difficulties in behavioral, academic and social/emotional skills that are preventing you from being successful in the public school setting.  The Individualized Education Program will guide the educational and clinical interventions for each individual student.


Privacy & Confidentiality


Housatonic Academy maintains strict privacy and confidentiality regarding personal information of students. We will not share any information about you with others, other than your parent/guardian or your school district, unless we have a signed release from your parent/guardian. Your parent/guardian will receive information on your academics, behaviors and other information as requested, and as needed through regularly scheduled contacts.



Discrimination will not be tolerated at Housatonic Academy. “Discrimination” can be defined as making distinctions on the basis of class or category without regard to individual merit (i.e. race, ethnicity, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation).

Housatonic Academy conforms to and believes in Massachusetts General Law 622 from 1971, and Title IX of 1943, that all aspects of programming are open and available to all students without regard to race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin.

If you believe you are being discriminated against, please be sure that you or a parent/guardian contact the clinician, the Director or the Asst. Director.

Sexual Harassment

All sexual harassing conduct will be addressed and dealt with in a serious manner. Any person, staff or student who is being sexually harassed at Housatonic Academy has the right to file a complaint or press charges against the aggressor.

Sexual harassing conduct at HA includes, but is not limited to:

  •         Sexual flirtation, touching, gestures, advances, joking or propositions, whether

wanted or unwanted.

  •         Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, including sexually oriented humor.
  •         Graphic or suggestive comments about an individual’s dress or body.
  •         Sexually degrading words or gestures to describe an individual.
  •         The display of sexually suggestive materials.

If you believe you are the victim of sexual harassment, please be sure that you or a parent/guardian contact your clinician or another administrator within the HA and Hillcrest community.