CNN published an article by Francey Hakes entitled, “School Bullying’s Chilling New Front.” It features three tragic suicides related entirely or in part to school bullying. Bart Palosz, Joel Morales and Rehtaeh Parsons feared life more than death – so sad. Heartbreaking.
The article goes on to list reasons for the near epidemic occurrences of bullying and what possible solutions there might be. It’s encouraging that CNN and other national news agencies keep the awareness raised for all to consider. This article, while not meant to be an exhaustive commentary on the subject is a good reminder and also reflects recent research. Mrs. Hakes writes:
1. “Schools must establish clear rules and enforce severe consequences for students who bully at school, whether it is in person or via electronic devices issued by or used on school property.”
2. “Schools should also monitor cyberbehavior by students. There are good software tools that monitor cyberactivity in real time and flag threats based on keyword libraries that are specific to threatening, bullying, suicidal or violent language.”
3. “Parents should be equally responsible. Parents are often told to monitor their children’s cyberbehavior to protect them from being groomed by predators or from sending illicit images of themselves. But parents should also monitor their children to see if they are doing the bullying.”
Good article, but they missed ONE VERY IMPORTANT element in reducing bullying in schools. Global studies suggest an average 50% REDUCTION IN BULLYING INCIDENCES when schools have a comprehensive, school-wide anti-bullying program (DiBasilio, 2008; Packman, Lepkowski, Overton, & Smaby, 2005; Olweus, 1993). This is EXACTLY what the “I Am Unafraid” program IS! And we have three different parts that make up the whole; the student’s part, the teacher’s part and the parents part.
While this “bullying front” is not “new” by any means, it is serious and a serious threat to the educational process AND a threat to healthy, young self-concept, a crucial element in developing our youth into strong contributors to the American, even global way.
Read the entire article at http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/05/opinion/hakes-bullying/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn
Author, Tali Shenfield, PhD writes, “Our society has changed a great deal over the last fifty years. Technology has increased our ability to communicate with each other. The world has gone wireless and the average human being today carries in his or her pocket more communication potential than that possessed by any mid-Twentieth Century government office. It is not surprising that this vast network of communication has a great deal of influence on our children. The continuous adoption of new technologies has become a social game-changer. Lifestyles, and modes of social interaction are in a constant state of flux. These new developments also cause a number of new problems, not the least of which is a loss of social skills.”
She continues, “Cyber bullying is most severe among teenage girls, although boys are sometimes victims or the bullies. The lack of face-to-face contact gives courage to bullies and makes them feel invincible. Because of this, they may make a far more serious assault than they would if they had to physically confront their victim. One of the dangers of cyber bullying is that children rarely report it to their parents when it happens. This is primarily due to fears that parents will restrict internet access, overreact, under-react, or simply not understand. Since your child may not reveal when he or she is being bullied, it is very important to understand and look for the signs of cyber bullying.”
According to the most recent research, the best way to reduce bullying is to empower victims and bystanders. And when schools have a comprehensive, school-wide anti-bullying program that focuses on empowerment, there is an average 50% reduction in bullying incidents. I’ve been doing anti-bullying programs for over 10 years in 45 states and what I typically see is schools merely satisfying their federal and state mandates which usually ONLY require a bullying policy. However, POLICIES don’t teach kids how to behave. Sad part is…it often takes a tragedy to get people talking, to get officials to act (kinda the same way it takes to get a traffic light installed at a dangerous intersection). How many more tragedies does it take? I believe there have been ENOUGH!
I’m not saying Coffee Co. is to blame, nor its educators or officials. However, if Coffee Co. merely has a bullying policy, I’m afraid THAT barely resembles a flashing light! BEHAVIOR IS A LEARNED PROCESS…which means bullying is learned – it can be UNLEARNED. Bottom line: This is a shared responsibility. Don’t forget the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
See more of this story at http://www.fox17.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wztv_vid_17668.shtml
A Pennsylvania boy is currently in a medically induced coma after a schoolyard fight with classmates who he and his family claims were bullying him.
Sixth-grader Bailey O’Neil, an honors student, of Darby Township, Pa., was involved in a fight four weeks ago at the Darby Township School. He was struck several times in the face by another student; the blow fractured his nose and he fell to the ground.
His parents brought their son, who had a concussion, to the A.I. DuPont hospital in Wilmington, Del., where he was treated and released. But his father saw that something wasn’t quite right with their son when they returned home.
“He was sleeping. He was moody. He wasn’t himself. He was angry a little bit. He wasn’t really eating,” Bailey’s father Rob told ABC Affiliate WPVI-TV. Just a few days later, Bailey started having violent seizures and needed to be hospitalized again. The seizures were so bad that doctors at A.I. DuPont were forced to put Bailey in a medically induced coma nearly two weeks ago. BTW – According to Bailey’s father, the boy who struck his son was suspended for two days following the incident, but police have not filed any criminal charges in the case.
UPDATE – 3/4/12
We are saddened to report that while Bailey turned 12 on Saturday, March 2nd he died on Sunday. In a released statement his family writes, “I would like to thank everyone who has prayed and supported Bailey and his family!! Bailey has been the strongest toughest boy I know. He has fought this battle long and hard. There just wasn’t a way to fix this. I wish I could say he will get better but I can’t. Bailey has gone to be with God today.”
The family of an 11-year-old girl who committed suicide over the weekend say bullying led to their daughter’s death. Hailey Petee was found dead Sunday morning by her mother inside the family’s home. “I come around the corner and I see her bedroom light on under the door, so I open the door and that’s when I saw her and screamed for someone to call 911,” a tearful Melinda Groce said. Hailey’s parents say their daughter wasn’t bullied on school grounds, but was tormented on the bus and sometimes around town by a group of middle school students. The bullying became so bad, according to Melinda, that she was forced to make changes to her daughter’s daily routine. “I had her transfer to a different bus and I wouldn’t let her go anywhere in town unless it was to her neighbor’s, where they had built her a clubhouse, or to her friends house,” Groce said. “That was it. She couldn’t even go to the park anymore.” In the weeks preceding their daughter’s suicide, Groce and her husband say Hailey seemed to be doing better. She even made a “Bullying Free Zone” sign for her room — but apparently, something was still very wrong.
In the 70′s we had mood rings and pet rocks. In the 80′s it was ripped jeans and jelly shoes, In the 90′s we saw spandex and push pops. 2000′s gave us energy drinks and texting. As 2013 begins, it’s impossible to escape a deluge of bullying allegations, articles and name-dropping. It’s almost become a badge of honor to reference “bullying” in one’s past or present. DON’T MISUNDERSTAND – I’m not saying there aren’t legitimate bullying stories. Recent research suggests that 80-90% of school-aged students are bullied. And anyone who HAS BEEN BULLIED can often recant a tearful experience that may have caused serious emotional trauma, while others found themselves stronger like the effect of tempered steel. DO UNDERSTAND – many newspapers, politicians, celebrities, local personalities, and anyone looking for a lime-light will invoke whatever it takes to get the attention, approval, ratings and business they desire. BOTTOM LINE – don’t be naive, drawn in, fooled or downright lied to when it comes to bullying. Here are a few examples…one celebrity who has/had a home in my neighborhood (Greater Nashville) said she was bullied in school by her friends locking her in the bathroom! Hmmm…the school in question doesn’t have locks on the bathroom doors. OH WAIT – they don’t even have bathroom doors! Another example…I daily read national and global articles that claim new research shows how children with food allergies, weigh concerns, religious beliefs, and social uniqueness are targets of malicious, insidious and pervasive bullying. Is that really a newsflash? Did we need a peer-reviewed article to galvanize that idea? WE GET IT! Bullying happens…in our communities, on our streets, in our shopping centers, in our homes, in our churches, in our schools. Wherever people assemble, bullying happens. To reduce/control bullying, educators & parents have to reach an agreement on WHAT it is. Having a clear definition helps us set clear boundaries for student’s behavior and leaves no room for ambivalence (uncertainty) or individual interpretation. Once defined, we can use the definition as a standard or a tool for prevention and intervention, enabling us to clarify for students what behaviors are unacceptable.
I was here doing educational research and programming long before bullying was the buzz word or the pandemic it has become. I’ll be here as it routinely fades from the front page to the back page, to where it doesn’t even get mentioned…until another tragedy pushes it back on the front page. There are genuine, experienced and even credentialed practitioners who can frame and focus the verbiage. Need help finding them or finding information? I was here before. I’ll be here after.
What a moving letter written as a tribute to the teachers that sacrificed their lives at Sandy Hook. Here’s a small excerpt…”You showed America the heart and soul of teachers. This undervalued, underpaid, often criticized much maligned profession called teaching. As more and more people tell us we aren’t good enough, we aren’t doing enough, our educational system is failing, I see my colleagues working through lunch breaks. Researching into the night. Calling parents, meeting with students, and trying everything they can do to make their students successful, happy and engaged.”
See the entire interview and read the letter at http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/12/19/teacher-letter-to-fallen-teachers-sandy-hook-elementary-school/
This past weekend 2 more suicides were reported as a result of bullying. The first was 13-year old Erin Gallagher of Ballybofey, Ireland. According to the “Irish Independent”, Erin was reportedly found dead by relatives on Saturday night. The teenager had allegedly “warned her tormentors” that she was intending to commit suicide only 24 hours before http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/erin-gallagher-irish-teen-commits-suicide-battle-cyberbullying_n_2040850.html. The second was 15-year old Felicia Garcia of Staten Island, New York. Police are investigating her suicide that allegedly stemmed from bullying from other students specifically members of the undefeated Tottenville High School football team. It is being reported that Felicia was being verbally abused at the Staten Island Railway station nearest the school when she jumped in front of an oncoming train. Witnesses are pointing fingers at the football team http://www.thebiglead.com/index.php/2012/10/25/staten-island-teen-commits-suicide-because-of-alleged-bullying-by-players-on-undefeated-football-team/. Did you pay attention to their ages…13 & 15-years old!
I’ve been feeling pretty good this month with October being Bullying Awareness Month. Yet, the celebrations were cut short in Chicago where Terrance “Jawan” Wright was shot to death in an apparent robbery. However, new evidence is suggesting he was a victim of a hate crime for being gay. See http://www.towleroad.com/2012/10/jawan-wrights-family-says-anti-gay-bullying-led-to-shooting-video.html. Then, a Vancouver-area teenager Amanda Todd committed suicide after a prolonged battle online and in school. And this is just the beginning…8 girls have been arrested and charged with criminal harassment in connection with her death. To read more, follow link http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/11/amanda-todd-suicide-bullying_n_1959909.html. There is nothing more tragic then a flower trampled before it blooms, as in the case of these two. Prayers continue to go up in their memory and for healing in their families.
For the last 11 years of a 36-year career, I have placed most of my focus on bullying. Here’s what I’ve observed: Most people don’t think bullying is a problem until it happens to someone in their family. They say things like: “It’s a tough world. They need to learn how to deal with it” or “It’s not THAT big of a problem – it’s just as bad as it’s always been” even “A kid who continues to be a target for bullying obviously has some social issues”. Would you believe a majority of parents feel this way? AND, many of those people including educators remark, “These kids who commit suicide most assuredly have emotional problems – bullying is NOT the issue.” No doubt, these young people made what we would call the wrong decision by taking their lives. But have you ever considered that maybe the reason why they chose suicide was because they FEARED LIFE MORE THAN DEATH??? I thank God everyday that my children choose life in the midst of their own bullying battles. I also pray for the parent of those who have lost their children to this senseless “bullycide” and for those whose children are struggling daily. Ashley McIntyre is another victim of this growing social pandemic. http://www.wboy.com/story/19455272/harr