School leaders defend controversial activity

MARINETTE – It’s called “Cross the Line” and the activity is used by some schools to build awareness and in some cases prevent bullying among students.

A set of questions are asked and while in a group, students step forward or cross the line when answering yes to the question.

Students from Marinette Middle School participated in the activity last week.

Some parents were upset. They say the activity was inappropriate.

But, the school principal is defending the program.

“We have a lot of students with a lot of different talents, a lot of different likes and a lot of different issues that they struggle with on a daily basis so this activity’s purpose was to help students gain a better understanding of that diversity,” said Shawn Limberg, Marinette Middle School principal.

When FOX 11 spoke with parents last week, they told us if students didn’t participate in the activity, they would receive and in-school suspension.

However, Limberg said students were not forced to participate in the activity and they were never threatened with disciplinary action.

Limberg showed us all of the questions that students were asked.

Some of which included: cross the line if you enjoy sports, or school or flown on an airplane.

But other questions, get a little more sensitive for some…involving topics on alcohol and drug abuse, or hurting yourself.

One parent felt the activity will lead to more bullying.

“If I cross the line and say I’ve had a parent in jail and this person doesn’t, you know, that’s showing something bad of me. How is that going to get us connected? That’s going to give the person next to me more reason to throw something in my face,” said Tiffany Goodlet, parent of 7th grade student.

But Limberg disagrees.

“The number one reason why kids bully is because they don’t feel good about themselves and they feel alone,” Limberg said.

Richard Swiatnicki’s son is a fifth grade student at the school and he said the questions were too personal.

“The questions they were asked were inappropriate, especially for kids that age unless they’re in a therapeutic setting. If you put yourself into the mindset of a 10 or 11-year-old child, that can be perceived in many different ways,” said Swiatnicki.

The school admits, parents should have been notified before the activity was conducted and said if a similar activity is planned, parents will be told in advance.

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