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Jul 2 10 6:10 AM
Bullying is an age old problem. Today it has had new and deadly consequences.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick recently signed anti-bullying legislation into law.
"As governor and as a parent, I feel very strongly that no child should feel threatened or unsafe in our schools," Patrick said. "With this new law, we are giving our teachers, parents, and kids the tools and protections they need so that every student has a chance to reach their full potential."
The move comes after two students in the state committed suicide after being relentlessly harassed.
Javarro Cherry of Virginia Beach, Va., wants to protect his 10-year-old son, Jaihlen, from bullies. To do that he meets his son at his bus stop every day after school.
"I know that as long as someone's here, no one's going to bother him," Cherry told CBN News.
Jaihlen is small for his age and has been the victim of relentless bullying by kids at his public school.
"Sometimes they just come in your face and slap you," Jaihlen said, describing some of the bullying that he has experienced.
The boy's parents say he is particularly afraid of one bully, and for good reason.
"My son says that he (the bully) was trying to beat him up, that he said he was going to hurt him and make him bleed," Jaihlen's mother, Fredlena Cherry, said.
Jaihlen, who is a fifth grader at Betty F. Williams Elementary School, said things got so bad that he was afraid to go to school. He also started having disturbing thoughts.
"Something about killing myself, or running way or just hanging myself," he explained.
A Growing Problem
Unfortunately, Jaihlen's story is not unique. Bullying is making headlines around the country. It affects kids from elementary school to high school.
Bullying is defined as negative behaviors intended to frighten or cause harm. It may include written threats or physical harm. The behavior is also described as teasing, harassing, or intimidation.
In one high-profile case in Massachusetts, nine students were charged in the death of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince. Prince committed suicide after prosecutors say she was the victim of "unrelenting bullying" at her school.
District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel commented on the case at a recent press conference.
"The investigation revealed relentless activity directed toward Phoebe designed to humiliate her and make it impossible for her to remain at school," Scheibel said. "The bullying became intolerable."
In another case, 13-year-old Jon Carmichael in Texas hanged himself after being bullied by classmates because he was small. There is also the story of a second grader who tried to kill himself by jumping over a school balcony after other kids repeatedly pulled down his pants and embarrassed him.
Bullying has become so common that 41 states now have laws against it. Despite those laws, it is widespread and increasingly leads to deadly consequences.
But not all bullying is so overt. Perpetrators of both sexes often work in groups where they use gossip, rumors, text messages, and harassing Internet posts to bully.
Capt. Stephanie Bryn, director of the National Stop Bullying Now Campaign, said cyber bullying is on the rise.
"It can be done more easily because it's autonomous, there's accessibility to the equipment, and cyber bullying can be done 24-7, all the time," she explained.
Meanwhile, Jaihlen's parents have complained to both the bully's parents and to school officials.
"I would like to see the school have a better handle of how when there's a reportage of the student being a bully, there needs to be some level of discipline," Fredlena Cherry told CBN News.
Dr. Linda Mintle, a psychologist who has studied the issue of bullying, said parents of bullies need to take responsibility for their child's behavior.
"Parents need to stop making excuses for their kids behavior. I see a real crisis, parents want the schools to do something about bullying and then when the schools act, they get all upset and say you infringed on my rights and they threaten lawsuits," she explained.
Taking a Stand
Others have weighed in on the issue as well. Ron Luce, founder of Teen Mania Ministries, has encouraged Christian youth to take a stand against bullying.
"I'm asking, 'Where are the Christians in those schools?,'" Luce said. "There are Bible clubs, youth groups in the area. It's time to rise up."
Many schools across the country have anti-bullying initiatives, including Jaihlen's school.
Unfortunately that has not stopped the bullying in his case.
CBN News contacted Jaihlen's school for comment but administrators declined a request for an interview.
Meanwhile, his family is frustrated and his parents are helping him cope the best way they can.
"My dad started teaching me to fight," Jaihlen said. "Every time they try to put their hands on me, I grab their hand and I tell them don't put your hand on me."http://www.cbn.com/cbnnew...g-in-the-New-Millennium/
Sep 12 10 6:54 AM
One day, I was talking to my mom and we came up with this great idea! My parents sacrifice a lot to protect me, but what about all those other kids whose mommies and daddy that cant or don't know their kids are being bullied? What about those kids I left behind? They are still getting bullied.
My next thought became what we have called my challenge. Jaylens Challenge ~ to end childhood bullying, especially those with disabilities like myself.
I am going to buy videos and materials and my challenge is to educate every teacher and every kid in ALL schools!
You can just call me an Ambassador! I am not afraid to speak to them either. Since I was 5, I have been able to stand up and tell anyone about Tourette's and educate people. It just takes me a while because I have to wait for my tics in between sentences.
I know I can make a difference! I can do this...and I really believe that. Once kids are educated about it, they won't bully so much. I put it to the test with the class at the regular school I attended here for a few months. It was a huge success! You should have seen all the kids coming up to me that use to make fun and copy me. They were actually telling me they were sorry! The same boys that I was scared of! I felt like a special king or a movie star! For some reason though, I could never tell them while they were doing that to me or while I was going to school there. It would've seemed like tattling and they would have put it on me worse. All kids just need to know that their bullying changes kids and people forever. The TS disorders themselves don't kill kids. Its the bullying which leads them to take their own lives - usually by high school age. It is really sad. I can change that! You can help me. We can change that (We means you AND me)! So stick around and come back to my page often and grow with me. See Tourette Syndrome, Asperger's, OCD, and broad spectrum Autism through the eyes of a child. Through my eyes, I will show you. I'm not scared. I'm warning you though, I can be kind of funny and make you laugh. I make up my own really good jokes!
(Side Note: During the making of this website, I just heard today about two more boys who committed suicide as a result of the pressure of being bullied. Eeeek! I need to hurry, so I can help change the world)!http://www.jaylenschallenge.org/index.php
Sep 17 10 7:10 AM
LARA MARLOWE in Northampton, Massachusetts
THEIR UNGAINLINESS was the most striking thing about them. Kayla Narey (17), entered Superior Court No 2 first, her wheat-coloured hair carefully combed, with red polish on toe and fingernails.
She stared at her flip-flop shod feet as she walked in to the whirr of cameras, swaying as if trying to keep her balance. She then sat ramrod straight, waiting for the machinery of justice to lurch into motion.
Sean Mulveyhill (18), was in complete contrast to his former girlfriend. Cocky and self-confident, he slouched into the armchair, chomped on his chewing gum, looked around the room. It was hard to believe this short, stocky, ill-dressed young man with the spotty face and bristly goatee apparently so broke the Irish girl Phoebe Prince’s heart that she made a first apparent suicide attempt last November.
Mulveyhill abandoned Prince to return to Narey, his childhood sweetheart. Yesterday they saw each other for the first time since Prince hanged herself last January 14th after Narey, Mulveyhill and a third girl allegedly hounded Prince in the school library, on the school grounds and on the road home.
The former lovers are co-defendants, charged with felonies that could land them in prison for a decade, including violating Prince’s civil rights with bodily injury, and also for him, statutory rape. Not a glance passed yesterday between them.
There was nearly a quarter of an hour of silence before Judge Judd Carhart held three minutes of proceedings. Mulveyhill’s trial will take place next March, he said. Narey’s trial was scheduled for October, but her lawyer requested more time to study the 700-page “discovery packet” of police reports, witness statements and grand jury minutes. Narey’s date will be decided later.
Michael Jennings, Narey’s lawyer, signed a protective order, Judge Carhart mentioned. Lawyers defending the six teenagers accused of driving Prince to suicide are signing the order, enabling them to examine Prince’s medical, psychological and school records, on condition they keep the records secret. The judge will decide later whether evidence of Prince’s fragility will be admissible in their trials.
The line of defence has become apparent. Prince, the victim, will also be on trial. “One charge alleges that my client caused physical harm,” Jennings told me. “Phoebe had a history of self-harm. The poor thing did take her own life, and there are numerous potential causes other than what my client did.”http://www.irishtimes.com.../0916/1224278995807.html
Phoebe Prince (Personal Photo)
Prosecutors say that witness accounts paint an "intolerable" campaign of insults, humiliation and, in the final days of Phoebe's life, threats.
Clockwise from top left, Sharon Chanon Velazquez, Sean Mulveyhill, Kayla Narey, Ashley Longe and Austin Renaud. (Facebook)
Ashley Longe, Sharon Chanon Velazquez and Flannery Mullins, all 16, pleaded not guilty through their lawyers Wednesday to civil rights violations and criminal harassment.
Sean Mulveyhill, 17, and Austin Renaud, 18, and Kayla Narey, 17, three other teens charged in connection with Prince's death, also had not guilty pleas entered by lawyers on Tuesday.
The court papers describe what investigators indicate was a pattern of abusive taunts, text messages, Facebook postings, threats, and efforts to corner Phoebe, whose reactions are described variously as fearful, panicked and distraught.
Phoebe is quoted as telling a friend on Jan. 13, one day before she committed suicide, that "school has been close to intolerable lately."
The verbal assaults described by witnesses in the court papers include Longe "screaming at [Ms. Prince] from across the library," calling her at different times an "Irish #!%%!" and "$%%%."
The day Phoebe committed suicide Longe allegedly threw an empty "Monster Drink" can at her from a moving car, calling her a "#!%%!" and laughing. This apparently was the last straw for Phoebe, according to the court papers, because her younger sister found her hanging in the stairwell of her home later that day.
MORE ON CRIMESIDERApril 8, 2010 - Phoebe Prince Update: 3 More Schoolmates Plead Not Guilty to Bullying ChargesApril 6, 2010 - Phoebe Prince Bullying Suicide: 3 Plead Not GuiltyMarch 30, 2010 - Phoebe Prince Suicide: South Hadley High School Didn't Use Advice to Stop Bullies, Says ExpertMarch 29, 2010 - Phoebe Prince Update: Nine Teens Charged in Girl's SuicideFebruary 5, 2010 - Phoebe Prince "Suicide by Bullying": Teen's Death Angers Town Asking Why Bullies Roam the HallsJanuary 27, 2010 - 15-Year-Old Girl's Suicide May Have Been the Result of Cyberbullyinghttp://www.cbsnews.com/83...162-20002132-504083.html
The defense will attempt to highlight events from Phoebe Prince's past and paint her as a troubled teen. Photo: YouTube SEE ALL 11 PHOTOS
The trials in the controversial Phoebe Prince "bullycide" case began Wednesday in western Massachusetts — with two of the five teenagers charged with driving the Irish-born Prince to kill herself last January in court for preliminary hearings. The proceedings offered the first indications of how the prosecution and defense will handle the emotionally charged bullying case. (Read The Week's rundown of the Prince case.) Here's a concise guide:
What are the teenagers charged with?The most serious bullying charge is "violation of civil rights, with bodily injury resulting," a felony that carries up to 10 years in jail. The two defendants in court Wednesday — Kayla Narey, 17, and Sean Mulveyhill, 18 — are being charged as adults. Mulveyhill and a sixth defendant, Austin Renaud — both of whom allegedly had sex with Prince — are also being charged with statutory rape.
What happened Wednesday?The hearing only lasted a few minutes, and focused on scheduling the jury trials. Mulveyhill's trial was set for sometime in March; Narey's lawyer and the district attorney will meet in court again in November or January to set a date for her trial. Narey's lawyer also indicated he will try to get the case dismissed outright, on the grounds that the grand jury didn't have enough evidence to indict his client. (Watch a Fox News report about the trial)
What happens next?The three 16-year-old girls being charged in Juvenile Court (on adult felony charges) have their pre-trial hearings Sept. 23. Prosecutors have suggested that they might move to try two of the girls together, as "joint venturers." This would be "a bad deal for the kids," says Slate's Emily Bazelon, "because of its implication that they teamed up — a stock bullying image."
What's the defense strategy?Defense lawyers will try to show that Prince had a troubled history predating the alleged bullying, including periods of self-mutilation and two previous suicide attempts — including one when Mulveyhill broke off their relationship. They're now trying to gain access to Prince's confidential medical and counseling records. "If I were defense attorney for the kids, I'd be fighting tooth and nail for those records," says Boston defense lawyer Daniel K. Gelb, who's not involved in the case.
What's the prosecution's plan?Prosecutors are expected to argue that, given Prince's emotional problems, the alleged bullying is indeed a serious crime. If the D.A.'s office can show that the bullying provoked Prince's suicide, the law is on their side, says Andrew Goode, another Boston defense attorney not involved in the case. But such predictions don't count for much because the current district attorney, Elizabeth Scheibel, is stepping down in January, and her presumptive replacement has not said how — or if — he'll pursue the case.
Any guesses on the outcome?Slate's Bazelon, who argued in July that the D.A. is overreaching, suggests that new evidence has weakened the prosecution's case, which might shed light on why Scheibel is "willing to walk away from it" instead of insisting on a trial while she's still in office. Other legal experts predict that Scheibel or her successor might "allow the teenagers to plea to lesser, misdemeanor harassment charges," reports The New York Times, "which would not carry the lifelong stigma of a felony conviction."http://theweek.com/articl...e-trial-an-instant-guide
Oct 9 10 6:08 PM
By DAVID CRARY
NEW YORK – A spate of teen suicides linked to anti-gay harassment is prompting school officials nationwide to rethink their efforts against bullying — and in the process, risk entanglement in a bitter ideological debate.
The conflict: Gay-rights supporters insist that any effective anti-bullying program must include specific components addressing harassment of gay youth. But religious conservatives condemn that approach as an unnecessary and manipulative tactic to sway young people's views of homosexuality.
It's a highly emotional topic. Witness the hate mail — from the left and right — directed at Minnesota's Anoka-Hennepin School District while it reviews its anti-bullying strategies in the aftermath of a gay student's suicide.
The invective is "some of the worst I've ever seen," Superintendent Dennis Carlson said. "We may invite the Department of Justice to come in and help us mediate this discussion between people who seem to want to go at each other."
Carlson's district in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis is politically diverse, and there are strong, divided views on how to combat bullying.
"We believe the bullying policy should put the emphasis on the wrong actions of the bullies and not the characteristics of the victims," said Chuck Darrell of the conservative Minnesota Family Council.
That's a wrongheaded, potentially dangerous approach, according to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network — which tries to improve the school climate for gay students nationwide.
"Policies have to name the problem in order to have an impact," said GLSEN's executive director, Eliza Byard. "Only the ones that name it see an improvement."
According to a 2009 GLSEN survey of 7,261 students, only 18 percent said their schools had a comprehensive program addressing anti-gay bullying, while gay students in schools that had such programs were less likely to be victimized and more likely to report problems to staff.
Across the political spectrum, every group weighing in on the issue had deplored the recent deaths — the latest in a long series of suicides over many years by harassed gay teens, but dramatic nonetheless because of the high toll in a short span.
The most recent and highest-profile case involved Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, 18, who killed himself by jumping off the George Washington bridge after his roommate secretly recorded him with another male student, then broadcast the video online.
But at least four younger teens have killed themselves since July after being targeted by anti-gay bullying, including Justin Aaberg, 15, of Andover, Minn.,
who hanged himself in his room in July. His friends told his mother he'd been a frequent target of bullies mocking his sexual orientation.Five other students in his Anoka-Hennepin school district have killed themselves in the past year, and gay-rights advocates say bullying may have played a role in two of these cases as well.
Carlson, the district superintendent, lost a teenage daughter of his own in a car crash, and says he shares the anguish of the parents bereaved by suicide. He acknowledges that a controversial district policy calling for "neutrality" in classroom discussions of sexual orientation may have created an impression among some teachers, students and outsiders that school staff wouldn't intervene aggressively to combat anti-gay bullying.
The district — Minnesota's largest — serves nearly 40,000 students in 13 towns. The school board adopted the neutrality policy in 2009 as a balancing act, trying not to offend either liberal or conservative families.
Rebecca Dearing, 17, a junior who belongs to the gay-straight alliance at the district's Champlin Park High School, said the neutrality policy caused teachers to shy away from halting anti-gay harassment — sometimes leaving her gay friends feeling vulnerable to the point where they don't come to school.
"This shouldn't be a political issue any more, when it's affecting the lives of our students," she said. "It's a human issue that needs to be dealt with. They can be doing more and they're not."
In August, amid the furor over the suicides, the district clarified its anti-bullying program — saying that it was not governed by the neutrality provision and had always been intended to encourage vigilant, proactive adult intervention to curb anti-gay harassment. Staffers were told failure to intervene would be punished.
Justin Aaberg's mother, Tammy Aaberg, is convinced the broader neutrality policy has been damaging to gay students and wants it changed. She said she heard belatedly from Justin's friends about instances in past years where he was harassed that she was never notified about even through staff members were aware.
Now she sees signs that the district wants to be more diligent, but isn't fully reassured.
"Most of the teachers and principals, and maybe even now the superintendent, they mean well — they want to intervene," she said. "But the teachers still don't know what they can and can't do."
Nadia Boufous Phelps, the school psychologist at Anoka's Blaine High School, is co-advisor for its gay-straight alliance — to which 27 of the 3,000 students belong. She welcomes the attempt to clarify the stance toward anti-gay bullying.
"In the past, the staff often would not intervene," she said. "Now the district has come out loud and clear, if you hear "That's so gay,' if you witness anything, you must do something."
Still, she said, "We still have a long way to go"
Carlson says his district, seven years ago, was among the first in the state to implement a comprehensive anti-bullying program. Now he's exasperated by the highly charged, politicized debate that has flared since Aaberg's suicide.
"It's a terribly sensitive situation," he said. "Hurtful statements on either side are not helpful ... and the kids are watching."
Phil Duran, staff attorney for the statewide gay rights group OutFront Minnesota, says Carlson and his colleagues are constrained by school board members who do not want to anger conservative voters in the district.
"They're between a rock and a hard place," he said. "I do think they want to do the right thing — I don't think they known what the right thing is."
Nationally, the recent suicides have intensified calls on Congress to pass a pending bill, the Safe Schools Improvement Act. It would require schools receiving federal funds to implement bullying prevention programs that specifically address anti-gay harassment.
Supporters of the act say it has bipartisan support, but the likelihood of Democratic losses in the Nov. 2 election cloud its prospects, and it is vehemently opposed by many conservatives.
"A lot of these anti-bullying programs are crossing the lines far beyond bullying prevention into adult-oriented material and politics," said Candi Cushman, education analyst for Focus on the Family. Mission America president Linda Harvey said the act would "incorporate mandatory pro-gay propaganda."
According to GLSEN, 10 states have anti-bullying laws along the lines of the Safe Schools Act — requiring specific components addressing anti-gay harassment. But gay-rights activists say enforcement and compliance is not uniform.
For example, Dave Reynolds of the Trevor Project, which seeks to combat teen suicides, says many California schools are not in compliance with the state's 10-year-old law. One problem area, he said, is California's Central Valley — the source of many calls to the Trevor Project's suicide hot line.
Jeffree Merteuil-Clark, 17, is a junior who's active in the gay-straight alliance at Frontier High School in Bakersfield, a Central Valley city not far from Tehachapi. That's the town where 13-year-old Seth Walsh, hanged himself outside his home last month after enduring taunts from classmates about being gay. He died after nine days in a coma.
Merteuil-Clark said the teachers who are sympathetic to bullied gay students tend to be cautious, fearing they might antagonize Kern County school administrators who want to "sweep the problem under the rug."
"Growing up gay in Kern County, you have all this opposition to you," he said. "It does have an impact on you. When you're little, you think the rest of the world hates you."
The debate has proved to be a minefield for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, one of the largest in the nation, as it strives to serve schools ranging from progressive to conservative.
"We have to be extremely careful," said Marlene Snyder, the Olweus development director, describing a community-by-community approach which enables schools to tailor the program as they see fit in regard to anti-gay bullying.
"We've worked in all kinds of schools," Snyder said. "Some have very much taken on the homophobic situation. Other schools won't touch it with a 10-foot pole."
GLSEN sees a mixed picture nationwide — gay-straight alliances continue to spread, numbering more than 4,000 nationwide, yet nine of 10 gay students in its latest survey reported suffering anti-gay harassment,
Asked for an example of an effective program, GLSEN leader Eliza Byard cited New York City's Respect for All Initiative. The district, which serves 1.1 million students, makes specific mention of sexual orientation in its anti-bullying training for teachers and its materials for students.
"There's always more to do," said Elayna Konstan, head of the Office of School and Youth Development. "We're always trying to do this work better."
Of course, even a highly praised anti-bullying program doesn't spare New York City from its own share of anti-gay violence. Police charged members of a street gang with brutally beating a recruit they suspected of being gay and torturing him and two other people last week. http://news.yahoo.com/s/a...fDb_WUb7k_csi2GL8C;_ylu=
Oct 11 10 3:04 PM
CLEVELAND – Teachers and administrators confronting the issue of four bullied students who died by their own hands must get involved to end bullying, an attorney for grieving families said Monday.
Some of the student deaths followed bullying that was "incessant, it was constant, and the teachers and the administrators for whatever reason took a hands-off, laissez-faire approach and didn't get involved and stop this at its inception," Ken Myers said on NBC's "Today" show.
The Associated Press reported in detail Friday about the deaths of four Mentor High School students between 2006 and 2008. Three were suicides, one an overdose of antidepressants. All four students had been bullied. The district would not comment for the story.
Mentor Superintendent Jacqueline Hoynes said in a statement posted on the district's website over the weekend that the strategy to combat bullying includes having elementary school students pledge to stand up to bullies and report them to adults.
"Our anti-bullying programs have been in place before the state mandated anti-bullying programs and policies," the statement said.
Anti-bullying committees were set up in each school building to identify the causes and deal with potential victims, bystanders and adults, the statement said.
"Throughout the schools, the seriousness of bullying is highlighted in class meetings, rules-reviews, parent nights, motivational speakers, and in visible reminders up and down the hallways," the statement said.
Myers said the district had seemed to take a hands-off approach to bullying.
"They can have assemblies and all sorts of lessons that they teach the kids, but probably the most important part is what the teachers and administrators are doing when they see this sort of thing happening," Myers said.
Two families are suing the suburban Cleveland district, claiming their children were bullied to death and the school did nothing to stop it.
Hoynes said in the statement she had been advised by the school attorney to remain silent on the lawsuits.
"But, I want to reassure the Mentor students, families, and staff we will continue to address the mental health needs of our students and anti-bullying initiatives in our schools," her statement said.
Oct 13 10 4:42 PM
Oct 12, 2010.
Kalamazoo, Mich. – The warm fuzziness of the first few weeks of school is cooling and the strength of the "bullying will not be tolerated" lectures is waning. Come October, social hierarchies emerge and, too often, bullying begins. Low self-esteem, a bad day, months of anguish, suicide – the range of effects victims suffer is devastating. Parents, aware of the perennial pattern, hold their breath, hoping their child isn't targeted.
Bullying: It's been called a national epidemic and it's getting worse. It has been the focus of considerable attention lately as America looks at its widespread, even fatal, impact on youth. But more than media outcry, we need practical tools to combat bullying, empower children, and protect victims.
The problem is that much of the advice we were given when we were young is not only ineffective, it makes things worse.
It's time to rethink our approach.
Don't 'just ignore them'. Take, for example, those erroneous pearls of wisdom: "Just ignore them." Sure, there are times when doing nothing makes sense – for example, if the bully is older or you're in an unsupervised area – but overall, with repeated bullying, ignoring isn't an effective strategy. Bullying is about power, specifically the imbalance of power. If someone can silence you, that's pretty powerful.
Another misguided favorite: "Mind your own business; don't get involved." This condones bullying. It assumes the bully has so much power that it's useless to try to intervene. In fact, the opposite is true.
While 80 to 90 percent of children say it's unpleasant to watch bullying, only 11 percent intervene, according to a 2000 report on bullying by the LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution in Toronto.
Here's the kicker, though: When bystanders speak up, half of the time the bully backs down. Even when the behavior doesn't stop, its effect is deflated. As the number of bystanders who speak up increases, the amount of bullying will decrease.
Telling isn't tattlingThe ever popular "don't be a tattletale" has sent another harmful message. When we stand by and watch others being hurt, and do nothing, that's somehow deemed a good decision. Instead, we need to repeatedly teach our children the difference between telling and tattling.
Tattling is meant to make someone else look bad; there's not a victim involved. Telling, or reporting, is done in the service of others; it's meant to help someone. It's a heroic thing to stand up for someone who's being hurt, and we need to treat it as such â€“ at home and at school.
'Just be nice' doesn't work. The advice to "just be nice" needs revisiting. Being kind is important, but what's crucial is setting boundaries. Doing so, without being mean, helps make a child "bullyproof."
For example, when a child is the target of a cruel remark, a brief response such as "Why would you say that?" takes the focus off the insult and places it back in the aggressor's lap, without bullying back. Saying something as simple as "Really?" or "Seriously?" can have the same effect. A bored-sounding "whatever," a confused "what?," or humor is often enough to derail an aggressive interaction.
Setting boundaries, building confidence. The strategy, then, is to pick a handful of comebacks and practice them at home with your child. By role-playing potential scenarios, you increase the chances of your child being able to set boundaries at school. This also lets your child know you understand the realities of bully behavior. This critical interaction communicates your expectations and feelings about the topic, and gives your child a conversation to refer back to if problems arise.
Boundary-setting statements in school may also activate the bully's (and the bystander's) conscience, which is often enough to facilitate a change. Just as important, it sends a confident message to bullies, bystanders, and victims alike.
If we empower our children to stand up for themselves – and their friends – they're less likely to be victims and more likely to maintain a balance of power, allowing their confidence to grow.
Patricia Kelley Criswell, a licensed master social worker, is a recognized expert on tween girls and is an instructor at Western Michigan University's School of Social Work. She is also an author and consultant with American Girl Publishing.
Nov 20 10 11:14 AM
Nov 22 10 10:02 AM
Nov 23 10 12:23 PM
TRENTON — The state Senate and Assembly overwhelmingly passed the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights” today — a bipartisan piece of legislation supporters say would make up for an inadequate anti-bullying law that has been on the books for eight years.
“In 2002, New Jersey adopted its first anti-bullying legislation encouraging school districts to actively combat bullying. Some districts have done an impressive job in answering that call. Others have not,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), one of the bill’s main sponsors. “This legislation makes it clear that preventing and responding to incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying are not optional.”
The bill now heads to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.
In the Assembly, the bill passed 71-1, with 5 abstentions. Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris) was the sole no vote. It passed the Senate 30-0.
Supporters of the bill — including members of the gay rights group Garden State Equality and parents of bullied children — hugged each other immediately after its passage.
Superintendents would have to report incidents of bullying to the state Board of Education, which would grade schools and districts on their efforts to combat it.
Administrators who do not investigate reported incidents of bullying would be disciplined, while students who bully could be suspended or expelled. School employees would also be required to report all incidents they learn of, whether they took place in or outside of school.
The bill, in the works for almost a year, gained publicity and momentum after the suicide of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, whose roommate streamed a romantic encounter between him and another man over the internet. But the bill only has one provision relating to higher education, requiring public colleges and universities to include a policy on bullying in its code of conduct.
• Higher education anti-bullying bill is presented to U.S. House, Senate in memory of Tyler Clementi
• Anti-bullying Bill of Rights sails through N.J. Assembly, Senate education committees
• N.J. Senate advances stricter anti-bullying law following suicide of Tyler Clementi
• N.J. lawmakers to hold hearings on proposed anti-bullying laws following Rutgers suicide
• Uncertainty looms over whether anti-bullying measures may have played role in Tyler Clementi's death
• N.J. proposal to toughen anti-bullying laws follows Rutgers student suicide
• N.J. lawmakers introduce 'Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights' in wake of Tyler Clementi suicide
• Complete coverage of Tyler Clementi's suicide casehttp://www.nj.com/news/in..._passes_anti-bullyi.html
Nov 23 10 12:32 PM
Nov 29 10 7:40 PM
The office of Emergency Management Director Eric Burmeister says all 23 students and a teacher who were taken hostage about 3 p.m. Monday were released unharmed more than five hours later.
The office didn't immediately release information about the status of the male gunman.
The student armed with a handgun burst into a high school classroom in eastern Wisconsin on Monday, taking nearly two dozen students and a teacher hostage at the end of the school day, authorities said. Five hostages were released by mid-evening.
A Marinette High School administrator called authorities after 3 p.m. to say the student had taken over a classroom, officials said. Police Chief Jeff Skorik said officials were able to communicate by phone with the teacher inside throughout the ordeal.
Five students were initially released 8 p.m. The teacher acted as a mediator between the hostage-taker and authorities.
"There were five initially released and law enforcement will be interviewing those five to of course gather some more information," Skorik said at a hastily called news conference. "They'll be evaluated and if they need anything, provided services."
A SWAT team had arrived at the school Monday evening, city councilman Bradley Behrendt said from the scene about 50 miles north of Green Bay.
"I would say there's over 100 officers here, everyone from Marinette County, Green Bay ... It's very shocking. You've just got to hope and pray no one will be hurt," Behrendt said. "They just spent a whole bundle of money on classroom doors to make them secure, but they don't have metal detectors at the school."
The police chief said 23 students were initially held in the classroom along with the teacher. He said police knew the suspect's identity and investigators were interviewing his parents.
"We have no idea as far as motivations at this point," the chief said Monday evening.
Choral teacher Bonita Weydt said she was talking with a teacher in another classroom after school, which lets out about 3:10 p.m., when principal Corry Lambie came in.
"I said, `Corry, what's going on?' and he said, `Get out of the building,"' Weydt said.
Officials said parents were asked to gather at the county courthouse, where school officials and mental health counselors were meeting with families and reviewing a class roster.
Marinette, a town of about 12,000 people, sits on the border with Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The high school has an annual enrollment of approximately 800 students, according to its website.
Jan 8 11 8:08 PM
Christie signs ‘Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights’ into law by Steven Nelson
Jan 6, 2010.
Following the suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, national attention was focused on the effects of school bullying.
In New Jersey, the state where the suicide occurred, state legislators passed and Governor Chris Christie signed into law Thursday the ‘Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights’ aiming to curtail school bullying.
The bill compels school officials to investigate and report to the state Board of Education incidents of bullying and requires schools to form “school safety teams” to investigate complaints.
The ‘Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights’ passed the New Jersey legislature in November with only one ‘no’ vote in either house. The New Jersey Senate passed the bill 30-0, the Assembly with a vote of 71 in favor, one opposed and five abstentions.
Republican Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, the only legislator to vote against the bill, tells The Daily Caller that he doubts the bill will accomplish its aims, and considers it little more than a publicity stunt.
According to Carroll, “Dealing with bullies is not rocket science; a teacher who doesn’t understand how to react under such circumstances should find another line of work.”
“It represents pretty much a PR statement, to show that we’re ‘doing something,’” says Carroll, “I sincerely doubt that this will help even one child.”
New Jersey Republican State Sen. Diane Allen said in reaction to news that Christie had signed the bill, “we cannot change human nature, we can change how government and school officials respond to unacceptable behavior.”
Feb 8 11 5:08 PM
Mean kids, mothers tell their wounded young, behave that way because they have unhappy home lives, or feel inadequate, or don't have enough friends or because they somehow lack empathy. But a new study suggests some mean kids actually behave that way simply because they can.
Contrary to accepted ruffian-scholarship, the more popular a middle- or high-school kid becomes, the more central to the social network of the school, the more aggressive the behavior he or she engages in. At least, that was the case in North Carolina, where students from 19 middle and high schools were studied for 4.5 years by researchers at the University of California-Davis.
Authors Robert Faris and Diane Felmlee interviewed public-school kids seven times over the course of their study, starting when the students were in grades 6, 7 and 8. They asked the students to name their friends and used the data to create friendship maps. They then asked the kids who was unkind to them and whom they picked on, and mapped out the pathways of aggression. (More on Time.com: The Tricky Politics of Tween Bullying)
What they found was that only one-third of the students engaged in any bullying at all â€” physical force, taunts or gossip-spreading â€” but those who were moving up the school popularity chain bullied more as they went higher. Only when kids reached the very top 2% of the school's social hierarchy or fell into the bottom 2% did their behavior change; these kids were the least aggressive.
"Seemingly normal well-adjusted kids can be aggressive," says Faris, whose results are published in the new issue of the American Sociological Review. "We found that status increases aggression."
While the authors are not ruling out psychological or background influences as underlying causes of the bullying, they believe that popularity is at least as important. "It's one of the few times I can recall in social sciences where race and family background seem to make very little difference," says Faris. "Those demographic and socioeconomic factors don't seem to matter as much as where the kids are in the school hierarchy." (More on Time.com: A Glimmer of Hope in a Bad-News Survey About Bullying)
Faris also found that the more kids cared about popularity, the more aggressive they were. Ironically, that's pointless; hostile behavior did not cause rises in status. "The evidence suggests that overall aggression does not increase status," he says. Then again, it's not whether it works that's important. It's whether the kids believe it works.
Another stereotype the study jabbed at was that males and females bully differently. Boys spread gossip only marginally less often than girls did. And girls were negligibly less physically violent to each other than boys were. Gender-on-gender bullying was more prevalent among girls than boys, but boys were more likely to be hostile toward girls than the other way around.
Gender wasn't entirely a neutral factor, however. If a girl knew a lot of boys, or a boy knew a lot of girls at a school where there wasn't much intermingling of the sexes, those kids' status would go up, presumably because they provided a bridge to contact with potential dates. And, yep, the "gender-bridge" kids, as the study called them, seemed to be more aggressive than others. (More on Time.com: Study: Earphone-Loving Teens Can Hear Just Fine)
If bullying is actually more of a result of hierarchy than of psychology, Faris believes there might be a more effective solution than trying to change the behavior of the bullies. (Break out the Edmund Burke.) "The majority of kids who witness this, either give it tacit approval or outright encouragement," says Faris. "Those are the ones who give these kids their status. We need to change their minds."
Feb 8 11 5:15 PM
When talk of teen bullying comes up, younger adolescents are often left out. TV shows like Glee and advocacy projects like It Gets Better focus on the plight of bullied kids in high school — not middle school. But that misses the reality that tweens can be just as mean as teens.
Consider the numbers: An estimated half of sixth-graders are bullied in a week, and roughly four in five students report being verbally harassed in middle school. Further, in a survey by UCLA researchers, more than 70% of teens acknowledged being bullied online at least once a year. Indeed, the rate of bullying peaks when kids are 10 to 13 years old — and that's when its effects are arguably at their worst as well. (More on Time.com: When Bullying Turns Deadly: Can It Be Stopped?)
"Relational aggression early on can be especially damaging since it tends to stick," says Ryan E. Adams, a peer victimization expert. "Early adolescence is when you get your reputation."
Adams' work focuses on relational aggression, bullying that takes the form of rumor-spreading and name-calling, rather than physical blows. It involves purposeful exclusion of victimized kids and gossiping about them. Imagine tween versions of Heathers, Clueless or Mean Girls (no generation is spared). It's not physical aggression, but it arguably causes more lasting harm.
For a recent study published in the Journal of Early Adolescence, Adams collaborated with Concordia University psychologist William Bukowski and Ph.D. student Nancy Bartlett, to study the mechanics of tween social politics and bullying. The researchers found that some tweens use bullying to gain popularity.
"Generally, kids don't like kids who are aggressive," says Adams, the study's lead author. "But relational aggression seems to be much more complex and has these differential outcomes depending on who's using it, how it's being used and who's being victimized." (More on Time.com: Bullying: Suicides Highlight a Schoolyard Problem)
The researchers analyzed the peer ratings of 367 fifth- and sixth-graders for the study. In particular, they looked at how the usually negative relationship between relational aggression and peer liking held up among kids who were socially dominant (the popular kids) and those who were not (those who had ever been victimized by peers). In other words, the researchers wanted to know, when popular kids bully other kids, are the bullies more or less liked by their peers? How about when the victims of bullying express aggression themselves — are they more or less liked?
It turns out, the social standing of the bully and the victim makes a difference. The researchers found that, when a popular student bullies other kids, he or she doesn't get stigmatized; the student is exempted from what Adams calls "the blowback typically associated with aggression."
The same cannot be said for the victims of bullies, however. Victims who turn aggressive and bully other kids turn out to be the least liked kids in middle school. Worse, the findings suggest that no one cares when these kids are bullied.
How a kid attacks or reacts matters greatly too. An aggressive victim who's not proficient in schoolyard politics may react to being bullied in over-the-top ways that cut further at his social standing. And when he bullies other kids himself, it's usually not in the winsome ways of the popular kid, who knows how to get away with bad behavior. The most popular tween shrewdly uses laughter, for instance, so he doesn't come across as too mean when gossiping. (More on Time.com: How to Bully-Proof Young Girls)
"If parents and teachers assume that peers always have negative perceptions of those who behave aggressively, [then] the present study shows that this assumption is not necessarily accurate," says Kathryn LaFontana, an expert in peer relationships.
So what can parents and teachers do? To begin with, they should recognize what victimization is. "A lot of times with principals, teachers and even parents, they think, 'Oh, these are just kids being kids,'" Adams says. "But much of the aggression is much more subtle. And by ignoring them, you're reinforcing them."
Adams says, when he used to train teachers, he would often suggest that they think of the most difficult kid they have to deal with in class. Most likely, he says, other kids don't like that kid as well and he ends up getting the worst of it. (More on Time.com: How Not to Raise a Bully: The Early Roots of Empathy)
"They're not likable so it might be easier for teachers to look the other way," he says. "But reaching out to them and understanding that there's a lot more behind that negative behavior you don't like might help."
And what about the popular bullies — how should they be punished? This is where things get murkier for psychologist Patricia Hawley.
"What if aggression fosters personal growth such as self-esteem and wins high regard from the social group at the same time? The fact of the matter is that effective adults use relational aggression all the time," Hawley says. "We reward them with respect and higher salaries."
For Adams, things aren't so gray. He notes that, fortunately, relational aggression becomes less and less accepted after the tween years. Still, he worries that being aggressive may be confounded with being assertive, and this may send a message that there are benefits to bullying. (More on Time.com: New Laws Target Workplace Bullying)
"There may be success at work, but there are also other issues like 'Do you feel good?' 'Are you anxious?' and 'Do you have friends?'" he says, adding, "Is relational aggression something you have to do to get ahead? I don't think so."
So what message would Adams tell victimized kids? Not surprisingly, it's a familiar one: It gets better.
"These campaigns featuring celebrities give kids somebody that they trust and that they identify with, whether it's [because they have] the same sexual orientation or they're doing something they aspire to," he says, noting that tweens tend to be very egocentric at this point in their lives. "It helps to have somebody say, 'I made it.'"http://healthland.time.co...ean-girls/#ixzz1DQ5HCcWs
Mar 21 11 10:45 PM
15-year-old Casey Heynes had enough. After being bullied by a fellow student one too many times, the Australian teen says he ‘snapped’ and body-slammed his alleged bully. Video of the incident has gone viral, making Heynes the face of the anti-bullying movement.
During an interview Sunday on Australia’s “A Current Affair” Heynes admitted to previously contemplating suicide because of the bullying.
Both Heynes and his bully have been suspended because of their school’s “zero tolerance” policy regarding fighting.http://www.suntimes.com/n...after-fighting-back.html
Apr 6 11 12:47 PM
April 4, 2011.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A juvenile court judge deciding if four teenage boys should be tried as adults in the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl who was lured into a Southern California park bathroom ordered the Probation Department on Monday to prepare reports on the suspects.
Riverside County Judge Robert J. McIntyre said he wants the reports by April 25 as he considers the case against the defendants, whose ages range from 15 to 17.
The teens appeared one by one at the hearing in orange jumpsuits with their ankles and wrists bound in handcuffs.
The charges against each teen include rape, sodomy and committing the crimes to benefit a criminal gang. Three denied all of the charges through their attorneys, the equivalent of a not guilty plea in juvenile court. The fourth teen will be arraigned April 15.
Family members of the suspects declined to comment outside the courtroom. Calls to the teens’ attorneys were not immediately returned.
Deputy District Attorney Lisa Loyola said the alleged group rape was horrific as presented to prosecutors.
“This was a lot of boys in a bathroom with an 11-year-old girl,” Loyola said. “She didn’t know any of them at all. She was new to the area ... and didn’t know the culture of the area or what to look out for.”
Loyola said the Probation Department will consider the defendants’ age, whether they’ve been in trouble before, and the severity of the crime in the report to the judge. She said attorneys for two of the teens are also requesting further evaluation of their clients’ mental status to determine whether they’re capable of understanding of the charges against them.
The defendants are among a gang of six teenage juveniles and a 19-year-old man accused of attacking the girl March 10 in a bathroom at Victoriano Park in Moreno Valley, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles.
Information about the case was not released to the public until last week, when the final suspect was taken into custody.
Prosecutors said an older girl associated with the gang lured the victim into a park bathroom so she could be raped. The park is less than 100 yards from an elementary school.
Authorities could not say if the girl associated with the gang or the two other minors had been charged because of laws protecting juveniles in court matters, said John Hall, district attorney spokesman.
The adult suspect, Michael Sykes, 19, of Moreno Valley, was charged March 30 with six felonies, including kidnapping for rape, four counts of aggravated sexual assault on a child and committing a crime to benefit a criminal street gang. He also faces several sex offense and kidnapping enhancements.
His arraignment is set for April 13.
Sykes could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted, Hall said.
It was the second time in a month that authorities say a little girl was sexually attacked in a park in Riverside County.
In February, three 13-year-old boys were arrested after a middle school student told officers one boy sexually assaulted her while the two others held her down at Banning’s Roosevelt Williams Park.
The boys and the alleged victim attended Nicolette Middle School, and investigators said it wasn’t a gang-related attack.http://www.washingtonpost...on-teens-accused-of-gang-raping-11-year-old-girl-in-calif-park-bathroom/2011/04/04/AF5EMzZC_story.html
Apr 23 11 11:20 AM
Little Samantha Shaw, age 7, says she hasn’t actually been bullied about her formerly protruding cup ears. Sure, she’s been teased and called names. But even her own mother admits that “adults are the worst” when it comes to name-calling. Still, Cami Roselles, Shaw’s mom, allowed her daughter to undergo cosmetic surgery as a preventative measure to thwart future bullying.
ABC News reports that the freckle-faced first grader and her mom traveled from their home in Sturgis, South Dakota all the way to New York City to undergo the operation, performed for free (thanks to the Little Babyface Foundation) by Dr. Steven Pearlman. The two-and-a-half-hour otoplasty, in which her ears were pinned back, left little Samantha black and blue with bruises and ill from the anesthesia.
Still, both mom and daughter seem to think it was all worthwhile. “I really don’t like people asking about my ears,” Samantha said before the operation. Now they won’t anymore.
But some experts warn that plastic surgery is not the solution to bullying. “We never want to hold the victim responsible for the bullying,” Cheryl Rode of the San Diego Center for Children told ABC News.
Still, Samantha Shaw looks forward to doing the simple things she was always too self-conscious to do, like wearing her hair up and wearing earrings.
“I don’t want her to be teased and bullied and then have her lash out and treat people the way she’s being treated,” her mother said.
Aug 10 11 8:40 PM
Black's mother has decided to home school the 14-year-old from now on, a new decision which also allows more time to focus on her daughter's career. But the teen seems zen about her alarming circumstances. The online anti-Rebecca comments became so violent at one point the FBI became involved when Black started receiving death threats. But now that the bullying has branched off the internet and into her real life, Black has been forced to act.
In an interview set to air tonight, Wednesday, on ABC, Black opens up about the real-life, non-Internet-based criticism she receives. "When I walk by, they'll start singing 'Friday' in a really nasally voice," she tells ABC. "Or, you know, they'll be like, 'Oh hey, Rebecca, guess what day it is?'"
If anything, Black is a poster child for how to handle sudden online fame and scrutiny. The teen has a remarkably thick skin. Perhaps she is more fit for fame than anyone is willing to admit.
"I've had a lot of experience with not being liked and all that," she tells ABC. "I think if I hadn't had to deal with that in the past, then I totally would have handled this differently and I would have gone down in burning flames. But I've learned that you just can't let it get to you."
Now, she says, fans surround her wherever she goes, and she travels with her own entourage of a publicist, manager, stylist, and, yes, bodyguard. Not letting the spotlight dim on her just yet, her "My Moment" follow-up video has reached more than 22 million views in the past three weeks (YouTube even gave her a "Rebecca" account name). She recently performed "Friday" onstage at Katy Perry's concert (and appeared in Katy's "Last Friday Night" video), and she counts Lady Gaga as a fan. While Black has only made enough money to cover her future college tuition--and she's certainly spending more than that on videos and career nurturers right now--she's one of the few online sensations who could successfully harness the unending power of haters to her own advantage.http://new.music.yahoo.co...-school-due-to-bullying/
Oct 3 11 4:46 AM
The openly gay teen's parents Tim and Tracy Rodemeyer are calling for changes in how New York schools handle the kind of chronic harassment that drove their son to kill himself outside their suburban Buffalo home on September 19.
"It's the only thing that's keeping us going, to try and get the word out," Tracy Rodemeyer told Reuters.
Already the move has resulted in proposed state legislation aimed at stopping online taunts, known as cyber-bullying.
It comes in the wake of neighboring New Jersey enacting the nation's toughest anti-bullying law after the suicide last year of a gay Rutgers University student who was bullied.
At the start of this school year, New Jersey officials worried tight budgets might make it difficult to uphold the law, which requires a uniform response to each and every incidence of bullying, including corrective action plans and time frames for intervention.
In Buffalo, meanwhile, a painful reminder that little has changed came last week when a student at the school Rodemeyer attended was suspended for continued taunting of the teen even after his death.
This time the target was his 16-year-old sister at a school dance just hours after she attended a wake for her younger brother on September 22.
"It sickens me," their father said of reports that some students chanted "better off dead" when dance organizers played a song in Rodemeyer's honor by his favorite singer, Lady Gaga, who has memorialized him in her anti-bullying comments.
"Your mind just spins at 100 miles per hour. How can someone do that? I don't understand how someone could be so cruel," Tracy Rodemeyer said.
"Everybody has a story about bullying but never, never have I ever seen it where somebody would be happy that someone is dead from their actions."
Superintendent Scott Martzloff posted a message on the district's web site condemning the dance incident and saying a student believed to be responsible was suspended.
Police continue to investigate Rodemeyer's death to determine if criminal charges should be brought against some of the teens accused of harassing him, officials said.
The high school freshman had talked to his mother about being gay for the first time about a year ago. In May, he contributed an online video to an international campaign called "It Gets Better," designed to help young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people confirm their identity and survive the pitfalls of being different.
She said the teasing that followed Rodemeyer through grade school and into high school included taunts of "$$@" and "girly girl" hurled at the boy who kept mostly female friends.
While his online message in May was one of hope, his mother said it is clear now that he put up a strong front to hide the deep hurt within.
School guidance counselors and social workers met with Rodemeyer over the years but none seemed to strive to help him, his father said. One counselor's advice was simply to stop spending time with girls, he said.
One big problem is that harassment may seem endless for some teens, deepening their despair, said Dr. Stuart Green, of the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness, who helped draft the New Jersey anti-bullying legislation.
"In 12 years of taking phone calls from parents I've never once gotten a call where a parent was upset about something that happened yesterday. It's months and years," he said.
The proposed legislation in New York to make it easier to prosecute online bullying is aimed at creating a "chilling effect" to discourage the harassment, said Rich Azzopardi, spokesman for state Senator Jeffrey Klein, author of the bill.
"Years ago, drunken driving wasn't viewed as a big deal, even though it has the potential to kill people. What we're doing with bullying is changing people's perception of it," Azzopardi said.
For the Rodemeyers, that shift can't come soon enough.
"We're really supposed to be learning from our mistakes and this is the next biggest one," Tracy Rodemeyer said.http://news.yahoo.com/york-teen-bullied-even-death-
Nov 7 11 4:44 AM
NEW YORK — It can be a malicious rumor whispered in the hallway, a lewd photo arriving by cell phone, hands groping where they shouldn't. Added up, it's an epidemic — student-on-student sexual harassment that is pervasive in America's middle schools and high schools.
During the 2010-11 school year, 48 percent of students in grades 7-12 experienced some form of sexual harassment in person or electronically via texting, email and social media, according to a major national survey being released Monday by the American Association of University Women.
The harassers often thought they were being funny, but the consequences for their targets can be wrenching, according to the survey. Nearly a third of the victims said the harassment made them feel sick to their stomach, affected their study habits or fueled reluctance to go to school at all.
"It's reached a level where it's almost a normal part of the school day," said one of the report's co-authors, AAUW director of research Catherine Hill. "It's somewhat of a vicious cycle. The kids who are harassers often have been harassed themselves."
The survey, conducted in May and June, asked 1,002 girls and 963 boys from public and private schools nationwide whether they had experienced any of various forms of sexual harassment. These included having someone make unwelcome sexual comments about them, being called gay or lesbian in a negative way, being touched in an unwelcome sexual way, being shown sexual pictures they didn't want to see, and being the subject of unwelcome sexual rumors.
The survey quoted one ninth-grade girl as saying she was called a !#%@# "because I have many friends that are boys." A 12th-grade boy said schoolmates circulated an image showing his face attached to an animal having sex.
In all, 56 percent of the girls and 40 percent of the boys said they had experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment during the school year.
After being harassed, half of the targeted students did nothing about it. Of the rest, some talked to parents or friends, but only 9 percent reported the incident to a teacher, guidance counselor or other adult at school, according to the survey.
Reasons for not reporting included doubts it would have any impact, fears of making the situation worse, and concerns about the staff member's reaction.
The report comes at a time when the problem of bullying at schools is in the spotlight, in part because of several recent suicides of beleaguered students.
The AAUW report observes that sexual harassment and bullying can sometimes overlap, such as the taunting of youths who are perceived to be gay or lesbian, but it says there are important distinctions. For example, there are some state laws against bullying, but serious sexual harassment — at a level which interferes with a student's education— is prohibited under the federal gender-equality legislation known as Title IX.
"Too often, the more comfortable term bullying is used to describe sexual harassment, obscuring the role of gender and sex in these incidents," the report says. "Schools are likely to promote bullying prevention while ignoring or downplaying sexual harassment."
Fatima Goss Graves, a vice president of the National Women's Law Center in Washington, said the ultimate goal should be to deter hurtful student interactions however they are defined.
"Schools get too caught up in the label," she said. "If it's the sort of conduct that's interfering with a student's performance, it ought to be stopped."
The survey asked students for suggestions on how to reduce sexual harassment at their schools. More than half favored systematic punishments for harassers and said there should be a mechanism for reporting harassment anonymously.
The AAUW report said all schools should create a sexual-harassment policy and make sure it is publicized and enforced. It said schools must ensure that students are educated about what their rights are under Title IX, with special attention paid to encouraging girls to respond assertively to harassment since they are targeted more often than boys.
Niobe Way, a professor of applied psychology at New York University who has studied adolescent relationships, suggested that school anti-harassment policies might have only limited impact without broader cultural changes that break down gender stereotypes.
"You have a culture that doesn't value boys having close intimate relations and being emotional or empathetic," she said.
Bill Bond, a former high school principal who is a school safety expert for the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said there had been in shift in the nature of sexual harassment among students over recent decades.
Overt attempts to exploit a fellow student sexually have become less common, while there's more use of sexual remarks to degrade or insult someone, he said.
"Words can cut a kid all the way to the heart," Bond said. "And when it's on the computers and cell phones, there's no escape. It's absolutely devastating and vicious to a kid."
The survey was conducted for AAUW by Knowledge Networks, and students answered the questions online, rather than to a person, to maximize the chances that they would answer sensitive questions candidly. Households were provided with equipment and Internet access if needed.
The AAUW said the margin of error for the full sample of the survey was plus or minus 2.2 percent, with a larger margin of error for subgroups.http://news.yahoo.com/sur...ades-7-12-050245126.html
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