Obamas take anti-bullying message to Facebook

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have posted a video on Facebook to promote a bullying prevention conference they’ll host at the White House, reports the Associated Press. In a taped video message, the president says that bullying should no longer be treated as an unavoidable part of growing up. He says schools and communities must be a safe place where children can thrive. Thursday’s conference will bring together parents, students and educators to discuss ways to stop bullying…

Click here for the full story

…Read More

Recognizing the warning signs for teen bullying, suicide

School officials need to do more to make parents aware of the stress that today’s teens and tweens face.

Mainstream media outlets have coined a new term to describe the rash of student suicides committed in the wake of persistent school bullying and harassment: “bullycides.”

The issue has spawned significant new research to determine whether the phenomenon is really new, or simply being reported more often. Either way, school officials need to do more to make parents aware of the stress that today’s teens and tweens face.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 12 percent of all deaths among youth and young adults in the U.S. result from suicides.…Read More

Nearly all schools file antibullying proposals

Ninety-nine percent of Massachusetts school districts filed bullying-prevention plans with the state by the Dec. 31 deadline–a marked turnaround from nearly two weeks ago when just 60 percent had complied with the mandate, reports the Boston Globe. Only six schools–two public, one charter, and three private special education schools–failed to file plans with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as required by the new law that seeks to protect students from bullying in schools and beyond. The law, signed by Governor Deval Patrick last May after the suicide of bullied South Hadley student Phoebe Prince, requires schools to adopt clear procedures for reporting and investigating cases of bullying, as well as methods for preventing retaliation against those who report problems…

Click here for the full story

…Read More

NJ lawmakers approve tough law to fight bullying

A law against bullying in schools, which advocates call the nation’s toughest because it requires schools to develop anti-harassment programs, was approved Monday in New Jersey, reports the Associated Press. The state General Assembly and Senate both passed the bill overwhelmingly and sent it to the desk of Republican Gov. Chris Christie. He said Monday night that he hadn’t read the bill but that the state’s lawyers have raised concerns over whether its provisions infringe on constitutional rights. He did not say whether he would sign it. The bill would require anti-bullying programs in public schools and language in college codes of conduct to address bullying. Schools would have to form teams to shape policies and review how bullying is handled. The bill had been in the works for 10 months but gained attention after the high-profile suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi in September. He killed himself after his roommate allegedly spied on his liaison with a man on a webcam. Clementi’s family said in a statement that it welcomed the bill. Many of the same measures are suggested, but not required, under a state anti-bullying that’s been on the books since 2002. Lawmakers say it quickly became apparent that the original bill wasn’t doing enough to stop bullying, which is increasingly seen as a major problem for young people, especially online, where it’s harder for the victims to get away from harassment…

Click here for the full story

…Read More

Help stop bullying, U.S. tells educators

In a 10-page letter to be sent today to thousands of school districts and colleges, the Department of Education urges the nation’s educators to ensure that they are complying with their responsibilities to prevent harassment, as laid out in federal laws, reports the New York Times. The letter is the product of a yearlong review of the federal statutes and case law covering sexual, racial and other forms of harassment, officials said. Issuing the letter took on new urgency in recent weeks because of a string of high-profile cases in which students have committed suicide after enduring bullying by classmates, the officials said. The department issued the letter to clarify the legal responsibilities of the authorities in public schools and in colleges and universities under federal laws, the officials said. Certain forms of student bullying might violate federal anti-discrimination law…

Click here for the full story

…Read More

Duncan: School bullying now a top federal priority

Duncan says school staff need to set the example. Copyright: Doktory
Duncan says school staff need to set the right example. Copyright: Doktory

Calling attention to one of education’s fastest growing problems, Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Aug. 11 spoke at the nation’s first “Bullying Prevention Summit” to incite a call to action, as well as invite government officials, behavioral experts, and education organizations to brainstorm scalable solutions to bullying in classrooms nationwide.

“This is the first real collaboration between government agencies to help combat the growing issue of bullying,” said Duncan. “Why these agencies haven’t come together before today is a good question. We’re hoping this summit will be the first step in creating a sustained effort against bullying in schools.”

The two-day summit, being held at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., is intended to help school leaders and government officials pool their knowledge on bullying and then turn this knowledge into plans for action.…Read More

Chicago Public Schools crack down on cyber bullies

Digitally placing classmates’ heads onto other people’s bodies, leaving abusive messages on Facebook profiles, eMailing X-rated images, and inciting violence via text message are all part of the modern school bully’s arsenal, Chicago Public School officials say. But now new district rules mean “cyber bullies” caught using cell phones or social networking web sites to pick on classmates face mandatory suspension, possible expulsion, and a police investigation, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Officials say the tough stance — which regulates student behavior off campus and outside school hours, as well as during the school day — is necessary to tackle a growing trend of cyber bullying. Studies suggest as many as four in 10 kids are targeted by bullies online. Under the new Student Code of Conduct, passed by the Chicago Board of Education on July 28, cyber bullying will be considered as serious an offense as burglary, aggravated assault, gang activity, drug use, or more traditional forms of bullying. Students who use computers or phones to “stalk, harass, bully, or otherwise intimidate others” will be suspended for five to 10 days and could be referred for expulsion. The details automatically will be referred to Chicago Police, who could hit students with criminal charges. Students caught using district computers to harass others also could lose their computer privileges…

Click here for the full story

…Read More

Online bullies pull schools into the fray

Schools these days are confronted with complex questions on whether and how to deal with cyberbullying, an imprecise label for online activities ranging from barrages of teasing texts to sexually harassing group sites, reports the New York Times. The extent of the phenomenon is hard to quantify. But one 2010 study by the Cyberbullying Research Center, an organization founded by two criminologists who defined bullying as “willful and repeated harm” inflicted through phones and computers, said one in five middle-school students had been affected. Schools these days are confronted with complex questions on whether and how to deal with cyberbullying, an imprecise label for online activities ranging from barrages of teasing texts to sexually harassing group sites. The extent of the phenomenon is hard to quantify. But one 2010 study by the Cyberbullying Research Center, an organization founded by two criminologists who defined bullying as “willful and repeated harm” inflicted through phones and computers, said one in five middle-school students had been affected…

Click here for the full story

…Read More

School leaders face questions about bullying that led to suicide

School officials in South Hadley, Mass., are disputing claims that they had long known about the hazing of a 15-year-old student who committed suicide, reports the New York Times. On one point, everyone agrees: the high school students who taunted and threatened Phoebe Prince for three months, until she hanged herself, deserve to be punished. But acrimony over what school officials knew and how they dealt with the bullying of Prince, 15, has intensified since March 29, when the district attorney announced that nine students who hounded her would face criminal charges. School leaders said the district attorney had gotten it wrong when she said that teachers and officials had long known about the hazing of Prince, a newcomer from Ireland who was relentlessly taunted as an “Irish slut” by some students after she briefly dated a popular senior football star. The district attorney, Elizabeth D. Scheibel, issued a terse statement on April 1 suggesting that the school superintendent did not know the facts. Lending support to the district attorney’s account, some students said in interviews that they had seen teachers witness bullying incidents or had seen a teacher console Prince as she wept. On the day she committed suicide in mid-January, she was seen crying in the nurse’s office, according to students…

Click here for the full story

…Read More