Direct short-cut to this
If you notice a change in
someone's personality or behaviour, ask how
theyre doing or let them know youve
noticed theyre not their usual self. Start
with an open question like, You look a little
bit down today; are you ok?'
If you notice a change in someone's personality or behaviour, ask how theyre doing or let them know youve noticed theyre not their usual self. Start with an open question like, You look a little bit down today; are you ok?'
Schoolyard bullying is far more serious than just name-calling and teasing. It's escalated to include harassment, beatings and even death threats. GLSEN released a study on harassment and bullying in 2005. In it, 65 percent of middle school and junior high students said they had been assaulted or harassed in the previous year. The study, From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, resulted from the survey of more than 3,400 teenagers and more than 1,000 teachers.
Does your school have a program to
combat bullying? Ask them! If they don't, talk with
them about setting one up. The No
Name Calling Week
(1/18-22/16) web site has a lot of information on how to do
that. Also see the movie - Mean
Kathy Noll's Monthly Column
(scroll to page 4)
Boyfriend of Suicide Suspect Regrets Not Stopping Alleged Bullying
Music and Theater
Students Are More Likely to Be
Map Bully Zones to Create a Safer
The Simple, Beautiful Gesture That Can Turn A Crowd To Love Instead Of Hate
Is a "Serious Public Health Problem"
"We need to understand that this is a public health problem faced by a third of our children," said Dr. Frederick Rivara, chairman of the committee compiling the report. "It has a major effect on their academic performance as well as their mental and physical health."
Along with depression and anxiety, which can lead to alcohol and drug abuse into adulthood, the negative effects of bullying range from disrupted sleep to related gastrointestinal stress and headaches, and both victims and perpetrators are much more likely to contemplate or attempt suicide. Here's what the pros are saying we can do about it.
in Schools - How to Spot the Signs, What to
Heading back to school can be a very exciting time of year for kids, because they get to hang out with friends they havent seen for months. But it can also produce anxiety for those kids who must once again face bullying. It can also be anxiety producing for parents. What can you do to help your child focus on fun and learning at school, rather than aggression, worry, and fear?
If your child is the target of bullying, here are a few ideas:
Tip 1 Talk with your child. Let them know that you cant help them unless you know about the situation. Listen to their stories and feelings, while being non-judgemental and calm. Remember that there are always two sides to every story. Work with your child to develop solutions that make them feel comfortable.
Tip 2 Gather information and document specifics from the incidents they describe: who was present (adults and children), what exactly happened, as well as when and where the incident took place. Ensure that your child knows there is a difference between tattling (telling with the intent of getting someone in trouble) and telling (telling with the intent of asking for help). Tell your child that you are proud that they feel comfortable enough to re-hash difficult and emotional situations with you.
Tip 3 Dont tell your child to ignore the bully or to learn how to fight. Encouraging your child to minimize their emotional reaction to the bully may reduce the frequency and severity of the incidents; however, ignoring a problem rarely ever makes it go away. And fighting fire with fire just makes a bigger fire.
Tip 4 Dont shrug the bullying behavior off as a normal part of childhood. Abuse of any kind must never be considered normal.
Tip 5 Involve your childs teacher and principal, but dont rely on them to be the sole source of the solution. Simply telling the teacher does not necessarily mean the problem will be solved. Many teachers and school administrators are at just as much of a loss as you are with respect to how to handle the growing problem of bullying. All of the parties involved in bullying - targets, bullies, parents, teachers, school administrators and support staff - need to come together to find a solution.
Tip 6 Ask about the bullying policy at your childs school. It should define the different types of bullying (physical, verbal, relational, sexual, and cyber-bullying), and the consequences for each. It should also recognize the difference between inappropriate behavior and bullying. Bullying is chronic, frequent behavior that has, at its core, the intention to harm and intimidate. Inappropriate behavior is exhibited by all kids at one time or another, but it is not malicious or chronic. The policy should also recognize potential hot spots in the school environment, such as the playground, bathrooms, and hallways where bullying could potentially occur, and then detail preventive action plans for those areas in the school.
Tip 7 Empower your child. The younger your child, the more they will benefit from things like role playing and scripts of how to respond in certain situations. Anything from Okay, whatever you say, and Thanks! to Knock it off, or Please stop now, are appropriate responses to bullies. Just ensure that your child responds with as little emotion as possible, and with as much confidence as possible. It may take a fair amount of time to see results from this tactic, so allow your child to move at their own pace in this regard.
If your child is the bully, there is also a lot you can do to be a part of the solution:
Tip 8 Dont deny that there is a problem. Once again, ignoring a problem rarely makes it go away, and often exacerbates it. Your child may not be entirely to blame; but he or she is definitely part of the equation, and problems cant be solved without all parts of the equation being satisfied.
Minimizing the importance of the issue sends a message to your child that being inconsiderate of other peoples feelings is acceptable.
Tip 9 Talk with your child. Listen to their stories and feelings. Remember that there are always two sides to every story. Document specific aspects of the behaviour so that you have the necessary information to help you and your child to work towards a solution.
Tip 10 Encourage and model empathy. Bullies often lack the feeling of empathy. When discussing specific incidents, ask your child to put themselves in the other childs shoes. While watching TV or a movie with your child, openly discuss what you think the characters might be feeling in certain scenes, especially ones filled with turmoil.
We must all do everything we can to ensure that our children come and go from school knowing that they are in a safe, inclusive, fair environment.
Tip 11 Brainstorm reparations and focus on accountability. Ask your child to help you understand what they did that caused harm to another, and why they behaved in that manner. Then, work with your child to develop meaningful ways to show he or she is sorry for what they did. Simply saying sorry is not enough; they must state what they are sorry for, and what they are going to do in the future to make amends.
Tip 12 Reduce the number of aggressive examples in your childs life. Violent examples in todays society can only be blamed for our childrens poor behavior if parents let those examples be their childrens babysitters. Monitor the TV programs and movies your child watches, the video games they play, and the other children they socialize with. Thats not to say that violent examples must be completely off limits; they are reality, and your child must learn to cope with them at some point. Just be sure to talk with your child about the appropriateness of such examples, and how you feel about them. This dialogue will give your child the basis from which to develop their own opinions.
Tip 13 Find a Peer Mentor. In addition to lacking empathy, bullies also often lack social skills. Track down someone who can be, in your absence, a regular source of support for your child. They can help your child figure out socially acceptable ways of behaving.
Bullying has a huge detrimental impact
on our childrens school environment. As the principal
at one Edmonton school says every morning during
announcements, Everyone has the responsibility to
help, and no one has the right to hurt. We must all do
everything we can to ensure that our children come and go
from school knowing that they are in a safe, inclusive, fair
environment. The absence of violence, fear and worry will
put our children in the position of being able to
concentrate on becoming confident and wise members of our
After the Election: Students and Parents Recount Rising
Anxiety and Intimidation
Our inbox was flooded.
From around the country came tales of children targeted by classmates with hate-filled language because of their ethnicity, racial slurs anonymously scrawled inside school buildings, open expressions of bigotry spoken by children within classroom walls, and teachers and principals struggling to reassure their students not to be afraid.
Below is a sample of these experiences as told to our reporters, filled with pain and fear. As difficult as these stories are to read, it is important to share them. They are part of a renewed national dialogue about who we are and what it means to be an American. If you or someone you love has been the victim of school bullying post-election, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to hear your story.
East Allegheny Junior/Senior High School, North Versailles, Pennsylvania
Chantelle Bellavance said her little cousin got teary-eyed recounting to her how classmates called her racist because she supported Donald Trump for president. It got worse when her teacher backed them up, she said.
Just before Election Day, the 8th-grader wore a Trump for president T-shirt to East Allegheny Junior/Senior High School in North Versailles, Pennsylvania. A confrontation ensued after her classmates asked why she was wearing it, Bellavance said.
The younger girl started to tell her fellow students that she watched the presidential debates and attended rallies for both Trump and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to help her make a decision.
She was trying to talk to students to say, 'This is what I learned and this is what I liked in general,' Bellavance said.
But students started to shout at her that she was sexist and racist. She shot her teacher a look for help, Bellavance said, but her teacher told her, No sweetie you dont know what you are talking about.
Thats when the students started calling her a racist white girl. Not only did the teacher not stop the students from taunting her, Bellevance said the teacher also called her cousin a racist white girl."
The day after the election, Bellavance said her younger cousin called, asking how she could get the kids to understand that she is not racist.
She was scared to go to school. She didnt want to sit in that teachers class.
The family complained about the incident to the principal, who said nothing could be done to the teacher because she has tenure, according to Bellavance. Calls to the school and a district spokesperson were not returned.
I was furious because I said as an educator, she should get fired, Bellavance said. That teacher should have never done that. That teacher had such an opportunity to bring those students together.
Shenendehowa Central Schools, Clifton Park, New York
After noticing a uptick in the number of students expressing racist rhetoric, Shenendehowa Central Schools Superintendent Oliver Robinson sent a note home to parents.
Please talk to children about respecting others and also about being resilient when faced with bigotry or other forms of ignorance, Robinson wrote. Bigotry and misogyny, in any form words, action, or demonstration has no place in Shen schools, buses or otherwise.
Among the comments reported to district officials are students saying All hail Trump and Were gonna build a wall, said district public information officer Kelly DeFeciani.
Shenendehowa parent Jessica Cordova wrote a letter to the district, saying children were chanting Build a Wall! Kill em all! And all hail Trump!, according to The Daily Gazette. Cordovas 14-year-old son, whose father was born in Mexico, was told by fellow students at Shenendehowas High School West that he would be deported, according to the newspaper.
So far, DeFeciani, the spokesperson, said none of the incidents have been classified as bullying or harassment, which requires continuous behavior, as opposed to a one-time comment. If a formal complaint is filed, the school principal will determine a consequence or refer the student to the superintendent if a suspension of more than five days is warranted.
It will get to a point that students will be disciplined if it becomes a harassment or bullying issue, she said. A lot of what we are doing right now is more using it as a teachable moment.
Anne Dirilgen, mother and teacher from Cary, North Carolina
Eight-year-old Fiona Dirilgen didnt want to go to bed. She wanted to stay up until Americas next president was named to see if shed have to leave the country.
She said Donald Trump cant win, because if he wins, then Im going to have to go back to Turkey where I was born, and her dad is going to have to go back to Turkey too, because thats where he was born, and her sister was born in China and shes going to have to go back to China, said Anne Dirilgen, Fionas mother. Im the only one who can stay because I was born in the United States.
Fiona, a third-grader at Brair Cliff Elementary School in Cary, North Carolina, was crying. She didnt want to be forced from her new home country. But after calming her daughters fears, Dirilgen got Fiona to go to sleep. Still, when she told her daughter the election results the next morning that Trump had indeed won the election Fiona became upset all over again.
And that's just part of what her third-grader has been experiencing, she said.
This boy also told her that Hillary Clinton likes to kill babies, so Ive emailed the teacher and the teacher said that she took care of it, but she didnt give me any further information, Dirilgen said. We cant talk like this, especially when youre 8."
Dirilgen did say the teacher adjusted the seating chart so the boy was no longer assigned a desk next to Fiona. Even as a teacher herself, Dirilgen said she doesnt know how educators should best respond to the bullying incidents that have swept through schools across the country post-election.
She said walking into the school where she teaches last Wednesday, the day after the election, was difficult. After a week, her school is starting to calm down, she said, but her students are still talking about the results.
Dirilgen, an art teacher at Garner Magnet High School, said her schools population is majority minority, and while she heard kids make jokes about being deported, she didnt hear any bullying like her daughter endured.
For teachers who are trying to cope with the post-election animus, Dirilgen offered some advice: Let the students talk, so long as the discussion remains civil.
You let them have discussions because its a good outlet for them, she said. Even in my art classroom, like were not talking civics, were not talking about government, but on Wednesday, people were just crying, like, you just let them vent.
Fallston High School, Harford County, Maryland
It wasnt the first time Brendon Smith had encountered students saying n****r at Fallston High School. Twice during football games against mostly black teams, he had heard students in the stands say, Go home, n****rs.
But when he saw the word scrawled on a school poster on Friday, it seemed like a new low. Smith, whose name has been changed to protect his privacy, had just finished using the bathroom when he saw a poster advertising a blood drive. Scrawled on the bottom of the poster were the words, "P.S. Not For N*****.
He ripped it down and showed it to one of my more progressive teachers, who decided it should be referred to administrators.
Harford Public Schools spokeswoman Jillian Lader said in a statement the district was aware that a flyer had been defaced with a racial slur.
This is not acceptable, and the flyer was immediately removed. Administration is investigating to determine who wrote on the flyer, as they will face disciplinary consequences, she said. The principal has reached out to the Fallston High School community in order to assure them that this will not be tolerated and to ask for their assistance in identifying who wrote on the flyer as this behavior is not representative of Fallston High School students.
Smith said he was unsurprised but still disappointed by the poster.
Joanne Smart, parent from Brookfield, Connecticut
Even before election night arrived, Joanne Smart and her daughter saw the signs that Brookfield High School leaned right. Recently, students had started a Young Republicans club; posters supporting Donald Trump were plastered on the school bulletin board. A popular senior boy wore a Hillary for Prison shirt.
Still, they thought there were limits to the conservatism in their town.
A day after the election, Smarts daughters gym class was split up into seven-member volleyball teams. The players had to come up with names for their teams. The students suggestions included Team Trump, the Wall and the Ku Klux Klan. Her daughter spoke up, telling her classmates they couldnt choose the KKK as their team name.
To Smart, the story was just another example of contentious campaign rhetoric gone amok.
I think the team is now called the Tyrannosaurus rexes or something, Smart said. I feel like kids are being more emboldened for sure. I just cant imagine. I cant imagine someone thinking that was OK.
Reginald Richardson, principal of New Rochelle High School, New York
As New Rochelle High School Principal Reginald Richardson watched the presidential election results unfold on television last Tuesday, he felt a mixture of anger, anxiety, fear and worry. Instead of going to bed that night, Richardson stayed up thinking about his students.
About three-quarters of the student body is minority; President-elect Donald Trump had bolstered his campaign through support for increasing deportations and building a wall along the Mexican border to keep immigrants out.
How would they react? How would they be feeling? Richardson wondered. I really didnt even know what to say to them.
The four-year principal would soon find out. In his morning African-American studies class, about 32 seniors were somber and quiet at first. Not knowing quite how to begin, Richardson asked for their thoughts about the election.
One female student said she was surprised that so many women supported Trump. Others said they were saddened by the racial rhetoric expressed during the campaign. An undocumented student wondered out loud what was going to happen to loved ones who were undocumented.
Others worried that they wouldnt be comfortable at the colleges they had applied to.
A lot of them were watching the election map, and some of them are applying to schools in areas that are red states, Richardson said.
He later wrote a letter to all students, telling them to continue to be hopeful about the future of the country and their own lives.
I want you to know that despite the divisive tone that defined much of the election process, our country is a place for all of the people and that our success as a nation is not dependent on any particular individual no matter their title or office. We the people are collectively greater than any singular person, he wrote.
I want you to know that you have a powerful voice and that you should never allow yourself to be silenced, marginalized or limited in any way. Each and every one of you has unlimited potential to contribute positively to our society in any way that you can, and in fact you have the obligation and the right to do so. I encourage you to read everything that you can. Dedicate yourself to being fully informed active participants in our civic life.
Ashby Gurgon, parent of Lowell, Indiana, middle school student
Ashby Gurgon was almost in tears when she heard the news. Little kids are innocent, she said, and dont harbor divisive opinions on race or sex until theyre influenced by others. But after a presidential campaign that relied heavily on personal jabs and divisive rhetoric, students in her daughters middle school seemed to have their minds made up.
Build a wall, students at Lowell Middle School chanted in the cafeteria last Wednesday, the day after Donald Trump was elected president. Throughout lunch break, white kids told Hispanic classmates that they had to sit at the other end of the cafeteria. Although Gurgons 12-year-old daughter Laci Little wasnt in the cafeteria at the time, shed soon hear about it during an emergency in-service with the superintendent of the Tri-Creek School Corporation, Debra Howe. Throughout the day, Laci heard students tell their Hispanic peers that their parents would be deported, Gurgon said.
In a districtwide email to parents, Howe wrote that school officials observed divisiveness and comments made that are making others fearful.
Our priority is to provide a safe and engaging learning space for all students, Howe wrote. Divisive and hateful language will be considered bullying and harassment.
Gurgon said she thought the response from school officials was positive, but the true issue lies with parents at home.
Its just completely unacceptable and it shouldnt even be happening in the first place, she said. A lot of people who supported Trump arent saying anything about it because they dont want to talk about it.
From across the nation, tales of ugliness aimed at children
In the week since the election, The 74 has received a constant stream of emails from readers concerned about increased bullying in our nations schools. Some people shared news articles they had read, like one story about Pennsylvania high school students who celebrated Donald Trumps victory by calling black students cotton pickers and by saluting heil Hitler. Some provided links to tweets and Facebook posts that they felt were out of line.
Others shared personal experiences. One girl said her little sister was taunted on the school bus for supporting womens rights. One mother said her third-grade daughter came home crying, terrified shed have to leave the United States because she was born in Turkey. A father from Wisconsin said he was walking his 6-year-old son to school when he heard other children playing the illegal immigrant game as they chanted, Trump, Trump, Trump and Build the wall, build the wall, build the wall.
This is not to say the bullying has all been one-sided. A few people wrote that their children had been victimized for supporting Trump. One reader reported a nephew being punched in the stomach and called a bigot by children at school.
Have you experienced post-election
bullying firsthand, or do you know someone who has? Email
your story to bullying@The74million.org. Well be
Over half of
teachers report kids feel anxiety now that Trump is
The problem is the most prevalent among Muslims, immigrants, and children of immigrants. Local therapist Anita Gandhia-Smith says kids take on their parents anxiety.
What can you do? It's best to talk to your child openly and honestly. They are likely hearing rumors and gossip in school.
Ghandia-Smith suggests reassuring your kids and telling them that it is going to be ok.
"There is an element of having basic trust in the system and in the universe," said Ghandia -Smith.
"Help your children understand that the system has worked for a long time. There are lots of checks and balances."
Mayor Muriel Bowser and other mayors all over the country, have come out and said that D.C. will continue to protect immigrants.
Madeline Albright is the latest prominent figure to come out and say she will register as Muslim if there is a Muslim registry, so Muslims do not feel alone. If your child is struggling with anxiety, here are a few resources that can help:
If you want to contact Dr. Anita
Averi Kaplowitch was horrified. An image of a swastika made out of pennies and photographed in her schools chemistry lab had been posted on Snapchat.
Equally disturbing for Kaplowitch, who is Jewish: She recognized some of the students in the pictures background, yet no one had stepped forward or spoken out about the incident.
The unsettling experience last winter at Marblehead High School prompted the 16-year-old and her best friend to raise $8,000 in three days. That was more than enough to hire the Anti-Defamation League of New England to train teachers and student leaders on innovative ways to combat bigotry, an approach the students are about to share with their peers.
Starting with last years presidential campaign and continuing after the election, reports of hateful acts have surged in the nation, and schools have emerged as an especially intense cauldron of activity.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama organization that has long tracked hate incidents and that also produces antibias lessons for classrooms, said it counted more than 1,000 incidents nationwide in the month following Donald Trumps election. The majority happened in schools, from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Education specialists, who have grappled in years past with bullying in schools, worry the election may have ushered in a new era of bias and bigotry. That phenomenon is being fueled by middle- and high-school students who are tethered to their phones, even in school, said Robert Trestan, the Anti-Defamation League of New England executive director.
They have access to the same content, language, images, and words that adults have access to, Trestan said. And we have seen more and more hate content becoming part of the mainstream.
Starting this past fall, the Anti-Defamation League has seen a spike in calls for help from anxious school leaders.
Attorney General Maura Healeys office launched a hotline a week after the election for residents to report bias-related harassment, threats, or violence, and the line has received hundreds of calls, including many from students and parents about incidents in schools.
Were working with schools and local police to make sure they are addressing such incidents appropriately, Healey spokeswoman Emalie Gainey said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center said the flood of calls it received after the election has slowed, although incidents are still being reported. The organization recorded more than 50 reported cases of hateful acts in Massachusetts in the first month following the election, and roughly 10 percent involved school-based incidents.
After the swastika episode last winter in Marblehead, the community witnessed at least three more bigoted acts: a small swastika discovered in April in the Veterans Middle School gym, an anti-Semitic message scratched into the baseball field behind the high school in August, and another swastika, about the size of a quarter, found in a boys bathroom at the middle school in late October.
But Kaplowitch is not discouraged. She said she hopes the insights and strategies she and the other student leaders learned about addressing bigotry will help them teach other students who, she said, may not realize the hurt that can be caused by their actions and words.
One of the strategies they learned, and intend to use in their peer training, is the culture sculpture, an exercise that asks students to fashion out of pipe cleaners three symbols that are meaningful to them, and to explain why they matter. They are also asked to describe how they feel when one of the symbols is taken from them. The aim is to help students better understand people from different cultures, religions, and sexual orientations.
Its really hard for people to come out, and speak out, and share with others who they truly are, Kaplowitch said. People cant be themselves in an environment like school.
Educators who teach their peers say they, too, are having to reevaluate methods for tackling prejudice in schools.
Daren Graves, an associate professor of education at Simmons College who trains teachers about antiracist practices at schools, said his approach has had to change dramatically from just a couple of years ago. Previously, Graves said, his framework for lessons was the Black Lives Matter movement that emerged after multiple police shootings of black men.
People were debating what is protest, how does protest work, how do you stand up to authority figures when something is wrong, Graves said. Its moving from a [political] system that produces disparate outcomes, maybe benignly, to a potential system that seeks to discriminate purposely, and that creates a different discourse for an educator.
Graves said teachers who train teachers should be thinking about how to better equip students to sort through the blizzard of information on social media and from news outlets.
Kids need to be literate, [having] critical literacy skills, and understanding whats fake news, Graves said.
Farah Assiraj, who teaches immigrant students at the Newcomers Academy in Bostons International High School, launched a nonprofit organization after the presidential election because she felt teachers needed help tackling a rising tide of bias and bigotry.
Sometimes, teachers who care about these issues feel very much siloed, said Assiraj, who is Muslim and grew up in Morocco.
Her nonprofit, Peregrinum, aims to get teachers talking to one another, and sharing creative ways to address prejudice.
You can feel you are the teacher who is taking charge because you embody this race, and it becomes a little overwhelming, Assiraj said. We cant do this work alone.
Kay Lazar can be reached at
Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar.
That's the suggestion of researchers said they found that young children who are bullied for years, or teens who face increased bullying in high school, lack confidence in their academic abilities, get lower grades and dislike school more than their peers.
"It's extremely disturbing how many children felt bullied at school," said lead researcher Gary Ladd, a psychology professor at Arizona State University.
"For teachers and parents, it's important to know that victimization tends to decline as kids get older, but some children never stop suffering from bullying during their school years," he added.
For the study, Ladd's team followed 383 boys and girls from kindergarten until high school. The team based its analysis on annual surveys completed by the students about their experiences, evaluations provided by the children's teachers and student scores on standardized reading and math tests.
The study began in public school districts in Illinois, but after five years the children were spread out across 24 different states.
"People moved and we had to track them down all over the country," Ladd said. "We put people in cars or on planes to see these kids."
The researchers found 24 percent of the students faced chronic bullying. And 18 percent of the students faced some bullying early in grade school, but it got worse in high school. In both of these groups, boys were more likely than girls to have been bullied.
All of these bullied kids performed worse in school and had more doubts about their abilities, according to the study published online Jan. 30 in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Educational Psychology.
For some kids, things got better. The researchers found 26 percent of the students were bullied early on but it eventually stopped. Their academics were not as affected, and their performance results were similar to the 32 percent of students who faced little or no bullying. This suggests that many children who are victims of bullying can recover, the researchers said.
"Some kids are able to escape victimization, and it looks like their school engagement and achievement does tend to recover," Ladd said. "That's a very hopeful message."
Schools should have anti-bullying programs, the researchers recommended. They also advised parents to routinely ask children if they are being bullied or excluded at school, and to take their responses seriously. The researchers also noted that some kids are much more sensitive to bullying than others.
"Frequently, kids who are being victimized or abused by other kids don't want to talk about it. I worry most about sensitive kids who are not being taken seriously and who suffer in silence," Ladd said in a news release from the American Psychological Association.
"There has been a lot of consciousness-raising and stories of children being bullied and committing suicide, and that has raised public concern," he added. "But more needs to be done to ensure that children aren't bullied, especially for kids who suffer in silence from chronic bullying throughout their school years."
More information: The U.S. Department
of Education provides more information on bullying.
Sexual bullying is a form of bullying that is common among tweens and teens. This behavior occurs when an individual or a group of individuals harass others through comments and actions that are sexual in nature. Whats more, sexual bullying can occur online or in person.
A tween or teen on the receiving end of sexual bullying is likely to be bullied, gossiped about, teased, insulted, cyberbullied, ignored, ostracized, shamed and intimidated.
Unlike physical bullying, sexual bullying can be difficult to spot because it does not usually leave a visible mark.
Sexual bullying often happens when no adults are around. As a result, it is very important that parents talk regularly to their kids about sexual bullying and healthy sexual development. If you think your child might be a victim of sexual bullying, give your child ample opportunity to talk with you about the situation.
Examples of Sexual Bullying
Sexual images, jokes, language and comments are called inappropriate for a reason. As a result, if it is sexual in nature and it makes the target uncomfortable, upset, embarrassed or afraid, then it is sexual bullying or harassment. Sexual bullying can include the following actions and comments:
Why Kids Bully Others Sexually
There are a number of reasons why kids participate in sexual bullying. But, the top reasons involve improving social status within the school, envy and jealousy, a need for attention and a fear of their own developing sexuality. Here is an overview of the motivating factors for sexual bullying.
To feel powerful. Sometimes kids will sexually bully others when they feel weak or powerless. And sometimes kids sexually bully others because they, too, have been sexually bullied or harassed.
To regain some control in their own lives, they target those who are weaker than them. This allows them to demonstrate control in their lives and feel powerful. Other times, kids have a bias toward a particular gender or lifestyle and will sexually bully others based on those beliefs.
To appear sexually mature. Once kids reach adolescence, they place a lot of importance on how they look and what their peers think of them. The goal is to appear mature and accepted. As a result, they often give in to peer pressure and demands from cliques. Many times, boys in particular will sexually bully girls to gain acceptance from their peers or to give the appearance that they are sexually experienced. Girls on the other hand, may focus on bullying other girls by calling them sexually explicit names in an effort to diminish a girls social status.
To generate excitement. Some sexual bullies thrive on telling a juicy story, spreading rumors or sharing negative details about another person. Mean girls in particular will sexually bully other girls by spreading rumors and gossip, sharing secrets or telling stories. They enjoy the attention they get from knowing something others dont know. They also thrive on the misery of others.
To reduce insecurity. In many instances, sexual bullying is a cover-up for feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. For instance, a bully may feel insecure about his own developing body or sexuality and will attack others before they have a chance to attack him.
To remove the competition. Many times girls will sexually bully another girl simply because they are jealous of her. Perhaps they feel she is prettier, smarter or more popular with boys. Whatever the reason, girls will often target another girl to make her seem less desirable to others. This type of relational aggression includes things like sharing sexual secrets or spreading lies and rumors about the targets sexual activity.
To mimic others. Sometimes kids
will participate in sexual bullying because of what they see
others doing. Influences can include everything from the
adults in their lives to reality television, to movies and
music. Whether it is a reality television program, an older
sibling, a friend, a parent or even a group of neighbors,
kids often model their behavior after what is in front of
An estimated 200,000 high school students who are bullied bring weapons to school, according to research. "Victims of bullying who have been threatened, engaged in a fight, injured, or had property stolen or damaged are much more likely to carry a gun or knife to school," said the study's senior investigator. Results showed that 20 percent of high school students reported being victims of bullying. Those who were bullied were more likely to be in lower grades, females and white.
An estimated 200,000 high school students who are bullied bring weapons to school, according to research to be presented Sunday, May 4, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Researchers also found that youths who have been victimized in multiple ways are up to 31 times more likely to carry a weapon to school than those who have not been bullied.
"Victims of bullying who have been threatened, engaged in a fight, injured, or had property stolen or damaged are much more likely to carry a gun or knife to school," said senior investigator Andrew Adesman, MD, FAAP, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.
Dr. Adesman and principal investigator Lana Schapiro, MD, FAAP, analyzed data from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. The system includes a nationally representative survey of more than 15,000 U.S. high school students conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Students were asked if they had ever been bullied on school property in the past year and on how many days in the past month they carried a weapon on school grounds.
The researchers looked at whether any of the following risk factors increased the likelihood that victims would carry a weapon to school: not going to school due to feeling unsafe in school or on the way to school; had property stolen or damaged; had been threatened or injured with a weapon; and had been in a physical fight. They also looked at what occurred when students experienced multiple risk factors.
Results showed that 20 percent of high school students reported being victims of bullying. Those who were bullied were more likely to be in lower grades, females and white. They also were more likely to carry a weapon to school than kids who were not bullied (8.6 percent vs. 4.6 percent).
"Large numbers of high school students report having been victimized by bullies and admit to carrying a weapon to school. Greater efforts need to be expended on reducing bullying in all of its many forms," said Dr. Schapiro.
The researchers also found a dramatic increase in the likelihood that victims of bullying went to school with a weapon if they experienced multiple risk factors. Up to 28 percent of students experiencing one risk factor brought a weapon to school, while up to 62 percent of those experiencing three risk factors carried a weapon on campus.
"Tragedies like the Columbine High School massacre have alerted educators and the public to the grave potential for premeditated violence not just by bullies, but by their victims as well," said Dr. Adesman. "Our analysis of data collected by the CDC clearly identifies which victims of bullying are most likely to carry a gun or other weapon to school."
"With estimates of more than 200,000
victims of bullying carrying a weapon to high school, more
effective prevention efforts and intervention strategies
need to be identified," Dr. Schapiro added. "The greatest
focus should not just be on bullies, but on the victims of
bullies most likely to carry a weapon and potentially use
deadly force if threatened."
We often imagine bullying as something that only happens to children. We sometimes talk about it as being misguided or a cry for help on the part of the bully as if it has little or no consequence. The reality cannot be farther from the truth.
In a case earlier this year, a Wisconsin teacher was bullied by other teachers for 10 years. The transgender teacher was taunted, isolated, undermined, and made fun of until she was driven to suicide. After her death, it was revealed that she had appealed to her principle for support over and over again, but her pleads for help fell on deaf ears. Read more about her case here.
Teachers not only bully one another but they also bully children. According to one study published in The International Journal of Social Psychiatry, an anonymous survey of 116 teachers at seven schools found that 45 percent of teachers admitted to having bullied a student.
Bullying is a type of abuse. The reality is that the behaviors and dynamics at play with bullying in kids??targetting people perceived as weak, using force to get your way, and social isolating people??are alive and well in adult culture. Workplace harassment, catcalling, and other forms of violence are manifestations of violence taken out on women, trans people, and other groups of people perceived as weak.
Cyberbullying Isn't Real
Like other forms of abuse, sometime bullying is physical about more often it is psychological. When students are bullied in school and then come home to face psychologically damaging peer relationships online, cyberbullying dramatically intensifies the psychological toll because it the bullying becomes relentless and sustained. In 2013, a study found that almost 70% of young people were affected by cyberbullying, and almost 40% of young people described being experiencing cyberbullying on a highly frequent basis. Around 34% of those who were bullied said their experiences lasted for over a month.
Facebook is the leading social network used for cyberbullying. In fact, Trans Lifeline pays to boost advertisements sometimes in order to grow our audience and spread the word about our services. We used to target people who support national LGBTQ organizations, but we stopped because we would always get at least some commentary on the thread invalidating transgender identities, denouncing transgender people, and occasionally even advocating that trans people should kill themselves. One commenter wrote, Trans suicide is a problem that fixes itself. And we are all better off. Despite numerous appeals to Facebook, reporting people, and banning them, we have never heard that Facebook has taken any action in response to abusive behavior.
Cyberbullies go out of their way to leverage social media as a tool to intimidate, humiliate and literally destroy people they target because they are perceiving us as weak. Those kinds of comments can be the difference between life and death to trans people who are struggling suicidality and already face so many emotional, social, and economic stressors. Read more about how to respond if you are being bullied on Facebook.
People being bullied just need to suck it up
Bullying has been around for a long time, but has not been taken seriously until recently. In the last few decades, media attention and research have begun examining the negative effects of bullying on victims and bullies. The cost to the persons emotional and psychological well-being is immediate but also can be sustained throughout a persons lifetime.
Many trans people begin are bullied for being gay as kids. Our peers sense our difference but do not have the language or nuanced understanding to name exactly how we are different. It also points to a truth??bullying is more about the bully and about playing to social norms than is is a genuine commentary on the person being bullied.
Young trans women often appear as sissies to their peers. For boy, the crime of not fulfilling the masculine expectations is punishable by intimidation, aggression, and violence. Moreover, femininity itself is punished through their lifetimes through by fathers who want to beat it out of them, by peers who target them with politically incorrect jokes to help them man-up, and by corrective rape. The dominant social structure of manhood in the US is a hierarchy created and maintained by ones ability and willingness to dominate others. In male social spaces gender policing always goes hand in hand with misogyny (you throw like a girl) and homophobia (dont be gay about it). How are trans women supposed to feel after a lifetime of taking in messages that they are weak or emotional or any of 1,000 other negative messages like a girl, and then they realize that they are in fact a girl?
Transgender and gender nonconforming youth face challenges at home, at school, in foster care, and in juvenile justice systems. A national survey by GLSEN has found that 75% of transgender youth feel unsafe at school, and those who are able to persevere had significantly lower GPAs, were more likely to miss school out of concern for their safety, and were less likely to plan on continuing their education.
Well researched prevention and intervention strategies for victims, bullies and bystanders have lifelong benefits. What if we had the same attitude about cancer or some other disease which has been around for a long time? What if we knew we could do something to make a difference but instead did nothing? We know that we can all make a difference in preventing or reducing bullying behavior.
Schools & institutions aren't responsible to stop bullyiing
Only recently have we begun to understand the roots of bullying behavior. While bullying may never be eliminated, it can be significantly reduced with school and family interventions.
However, a cross-national meta-analysis of 44 evaluations identified particular characteristics of school-based bullying programs that may help reduce bullying (D.P. Farrington and M.M. Ttofi, School-based programs to reduce bullying and victimization, Campbell Systematic Reviews ?6 (2009)). The study found that on average, school-based anti-bullying programs decreased bullying behavior by 20%-23% and victimization by bullies by 17%-20%. This study found the intensity and duration of a program, as well as the number of program elements, to be linked with effectiveness. Other elements found important to effectiveness were parent training, parent meetings, firm disciplinary methods, classroom rules, classroom management, and improved playground supervision. The study did not find evidence that working with peers was effective. The authors also recommended that a system of accreditation for anti-bullying programs be established to help ensure that programs being adopted by schools include the elements that have been found to be effective. Another study pointed out the importance of addressing peer norms in anti-bullying programs. In peer groups where bullying is the norm, the authors of the study argue that Until these peer norms are modified, it is likely that bullying behaviors will remain intractable in our schools.
Research report and recommendatio ns from the Educational Research Association on the Best Anti-bullying Practices in Schools, Colleges, and Universities.
Bullying victims tend to share a set
of characteristics or behaviors such as having lower peer
acceptance, being different in some way, being physically
weak, or having an unusual home life (neglectful or
overprotective). While these behaviors are a part of
understanding the social phenomena of bullying we cannot
ascribe to or perpetuate the idea that victims are to blame
for the bullying. Bully like an other form of abuse, and we
need intervene with the bully.
As many as one-third of bullying victims never tell any adults about their victimization or only discuss it years after it has ended. Here are the primary reasons why children refuse to report bullying.
Fear That the Abuse Will Get Worse Leads Children to Not Report Bullying
Many children fear that the bully will become further enraged if he or she is brought to the attention of school officials, according to interviews with bullied children.
The victims believe that if they report bullying, the bully will retaliate and become even more abusive. As a result, children either keep the bullying a secret or tell an adult with the request that nothing be done about the situation. It is unclear, however, whether retaliation actually occurs after bullying is reported.
Children Are Less Likely to Report Bullying if They Consider the Bully a Friend
The stereotypical notion of a school bully is of a large tyrant who barges in and steals lunch money from a peer he never talks to otherwise. In fact, however, bullying tends to be much more subtle and often occurs among friends. This may especially be the case for girls, among whom relational aggression is particularly common. The more a victim considers their bully to be a friend, the less likely that victim is to tell about the abuse. This occurs because the victim hopes to maintain the friendship, despite its abusive elements.
Children May Not Report Bullying Because They Feel Responsible for the Abuse
Children who are bullied often feel like they somehow "deserve" the abuse. Therefore, victims of bullying typically feel a great deal of shame and guilt surrounding the bullying. As a result, victims may remain silent and choose not to report bullying.
Children May Not Report Bullying Because They Feel Powerless
Bullying is essentially about power. Aggression -- whether verbal, social or physical -- centers on making one person feel less powerful than the other. Therefore, victims of bullying typically perceive themselves as powerless, especially in relation to the bully. This perception fuels a sense that reporting the bullying would be pointless.
A Belief that Telling Won't Make a Difference Causes Children to Not Report Bullying
Victims of bullying often claim that telling someone would be of "no use". This seems to be particularly the case in schools or classrooms where reports of bullying lead to little or no active intervention. The older children get, the less likely they are to believe that adults can help with bullying. This may occur because they have observed reports of bullying being dismissed by teachers, administrators, and/or parents repeatedly over time.
Mishna, Faye, and Alaggia, Ramona.
Weighing the risks: A child's decision to disclose peer
victimization. 2005. Children & Schools. 27,4:
YouTube star Andie
Case talks empowering music, 'Girls Night In' tour and
Aside from having perhaps the best voice we've ever heard (seriously the girl can SING!), what makes Andie so special is her desire to empower her young fans with music. In 2014, Andie's car cover mash-up of Rixton's "Me and My Broken Heart" and Rob Thomas' "Lonely No More" went viral with over 21 million views. After making headlines and receiving acclaim for the mash-up, she was able to use her growing influence to put out original songs that inspire people to seek adventure, trust themselves and never let anyone make them feel insignificant. Now, the YouTube sensation is putting faces to usernames with a national tour.
Together with lifestyle, fashion and DIY vloggers (video bloggers) Eva Gutowski, Meredith Foster, Alisha Marie, Mia Stammer and Sierra Furtado, Andie is taking to stages throughout the country for Fullscreen Live's "Girls Night In." Together, the young women showcase their talents while proving that being yourself is so much better than aspiring to unrealistic ideals. The tour enables Andie and the gang to come face-to-face with their beloved fans for a fun scripted show interspersed with games, sketches, contests, musical performances, DIY and more.
Amidst her crazy tour schedule, we were lucky enough to sit down and chat with Andie about the influence behind her inspiring lyrics, how the tour has brought her close friends and life lessons she never expected and of course what she loves about her amazing fans.
How has the tour been for you so far? What made you decide to do it?
It's been amazing. It's been unreal. Starting on YouTube, I never would've thought it'd get to this point. It's crazy getting to go out and see the people who've been watching my videos and being able to gain new fans too. The fans who come are all just so excited about everything and it's such a good age to really build that self-confidence in them. That's what I try to do with all of my videos. Through my music and social media handles, I try to preach that as much as possible. Plus, being able to wake up every day and do something that I love is just amazing. I also haven't been able to travel a lot in the past so this year I've probably traveled more than I ever have in my life. I grew up in a super sheltered home so this is kind of the first time I've ever been anywhere. I'm so excited! This is also the first time I'd ever met any of these girls and they've been so sweet. I was definitely an outsider in school and didn't have a lot of friends. I always tried super hard to be friends with people so I was nervous about this tour, but they're so accepting. I've never been able to click with other girls this well so this has been a great experience.
Talk to me about your upcoming EP release! How would you describe the music? Have you been able to record or work on it at all during the tour?
No recording on the tour but I'm constantly writing 24/7. Actually, a few of the songs I'm performing on the tour will be on my upcoming EP, so it's cool that everyone coming to the show gets to hear some pre-production. The EP is mostly pop-rock. I grew up listening to everything and always thought I'd be into more pop, and I'm sure that's what a lot of people expected me to do as a blonde-haired girl with blue eyes, but sometimes I'd rather head bang to Marilyn Manson. It's just a mixture of everything. I love pop music and main-stream music, those are the songs that I cover, so having a little bit of that along with other things that influence me kind of make two worlds collide into one beautiful big mess.
Your originals are all extremely relatable and many have inspiring messages. What's the inspiration behind most of the originals for you? What's your favorite topic to write/sing about?
I think every girl likes hearing and writing break-up songs. I have a song called "Last Song" and the chorus is basically just saying, "okay this is the last song I'm going to write about you." I started out writing a bunch of sad songs and then I was just like why am I writing such depressing stuff and whining about things? Why not give girls attitude? The songs I used to listen to growing up gave me confidence and helped me get through being such an outsider. I would listen to them and just be like "Yeah! I'm a survivor!" So I wanted to give girls that type of confidence. Having a song like "Last Song" is like "you screwed this up but guess what? I'm over it and this is the last song I'm going to write. All my feelings are down and now I can move on." I also have a song called "The Bed I've Made" and that was written about everything I went through with my parents growing up. I was really sheltered and they never really wanted me to do anything because they cared about me and didn't want me to get hurt, but I felt like I had to learn for myself and couldn't just take their word for it. I have to experience something myself to learn. I have to fall and hurt myself to learn from it. "The Bed I've Made" is basically saying "okay, mom, you can tell me this is going to happen but I have to do it myself and then I'll pay for the consequences and sleep in the bed that I made." So all of my songs have really positive and empowering messages.
You're obviously able to use music as a way to connect with people all over the world, especially now with social media. Why did you choose YouTube as your platform?
I always loved music. I was the middle
child in a big family so I was always searching for my
identity. I wanted to reach as many people as possible
through music. I would sing at talent shows or sing the
"National Anthem" during assemblies but nothing was reaching
the amount of people I wanted. I've always been really
driven and competitive and I just wanted results and wanted
to get out there quickly. I had friends who talked about
YouTube covers and I had seen other artists do that and they
were able to build their platforms that way. So my two
bandmates and I just threw a cover on YouTube on a whim and
it just kind of took off from there. I got such positive
responses and we got like 8,000 subscribers just from
uploading that one video. It motivated us to keep going and
to upload more covers. The whole point of uploading covers
was to get people's attention so they would then go to the
originals. It just blew up. I never thought I'd be able to
go on tour like this. YouTube is such an amazing platform
and such an incredible thing to build off of.
Video: Bullying has become a high-profile social issue. Among the possible reasons: Many young girls nowadays believe acting mean is a path to popularity in school, and social media makes it easier than ever. NBCs Kate Snow reports.
Even with all the talk about reining in badly behaving kids, bullying seems to have gotten worse than its ever been, especially with the added weapons that the Internet provides. And the suicide of a Florida girl has brought that issue front and center once again.
For 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick, the bullying got to be so unbearable that she felt suicide was her only option to escape the relentless and malevolent bullying of two classmates, one 12 and the other 14. Sedwick climbed to the top of a tower and jumped to her death.
Both of her alleged tormentors were arrested this week and the Polk County, Fla., sheriffs strong words and the outrage over what happened have highlighted the difficulties tween and teen girls face each day all over the country.
To many, it seems that the mean girls have simply gotten more vicious and destructive.
In an effort to battle bullying, a group of New York area girls have begun performing in a musical with an anti-bullying message called The New Kid. The girls say they understand Sedwicks struggles, having been bullied themselves.
They talked about their experiences with NBCs Kate Snow.
I think that mean girls are getting meaner because with all the social media thats going on these days its a lot easier for rumors to spread, said Melody Munitz.
Amelia Rose Allen says she understands what its like to become the target of a mean girl.
She would just criticize, she said. If I wore shorts with cowboy boots, shed be like, Oh thats so ugly. Why would you come to school? And then at one point on the bus it got like physical. And then this year we decided to home school because it was enough.
The girls say they know what motivates the bulliesmeanness has become a pathway to popularity.
I feel like most mean girls, they do it for power, Devon Reilly explained.
Sometimes girls do it to remain part of a clique, and even if theyre not usually cruel, they say mean things to fit in.
I feel like some people are just sucked in, said Sienna Schofield. Like my friend. Shes been my friend for years. And recently, in middle school shes popular because of some of her mean friends. Shes not a mean person. But when shes with them, shes mean to other people. And she feels like she has to be mean.
Parents, the girls say, just look the other way.
Some parents dont get the memo that . . . that you need to address this, Reilly said. If nobody addresses it, then its just gonna keep going on. And its just gonna continue to get worse.
Sedwicks mom knows all about the tragic consequences that can ensue if parents dont fix the problem.
The best legacy for my daughter, she said, is for all parents everywhere to monitor their kids and to make sure they know everything that theyre doing. Thats one thing I wish Id stayed on top of.
Psychiatrist Sue Varma agrees that parents need to pay close attention to what their kids are doing and to step in when necessary.
I see a rise in bullying because of cyber bullying, Varma said. Social media has its effect and impact creating a permanent, public and lasting humiliation. So a lot of what parents need to do is to be able to A, monitor whats involved and B, bolster self-esteem and confidence.
Keep on top of whats happening in your childs world, Varma advised.
Talk to them about their feelings and show them physical affection, she said. That [physical closeness] is key not only on an emotional level but also on a neurobiological level.
Hugging has been shown to cause the release of a hormone called oxytocin.
Oxytocin is one of the cuddle
hormones, one of the bonding hormones, Varma said.
But it also helps us empathize and connect with other
The 13-year-old boy at the center of an adolescent love triangle that ended in Rebecca Sedwick's suicide said he might have tried to stop the bullying that tormented the Florida girl if he had known about it.
For the past nine months, John Borgen, 13, of Lakeland, Fla., has been dating the 14-year-old girl police charged with felony aggravated stalking in connection with Rebecca's death. But he says he dated Rebecca, 12, before becoming involved with the 14-year-old.
"I think about her [Rebecca] almost every day," wondering whether "I could have stopped it," he told ABC News in an interview Thursday night.
Will Parents Be Charged for Girl Bullied Into Suicide?
Police arrested and charged the 14-year-old girl earlier this week with taunting Rebecca online and at school.
Police say the 14-year-old suspect is one of the girls who told Rebecca in online postings she should "drink bleach and die" and should "kill herself" because she was "ugly." But police say perhaps the worst of the alleged bullying case came after Rebecca of Lakeland, Fla., jumped from a concrete silo tower to her death Sept. 9.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd accused the teen of gloating on Facebook after the suicide about bullying Rebecca.
John said, "I thought somebody else did it. I thought somebody hacked her account, but when she was being charged and arrested, I was like why didn't she tell the police that somebody got into her account or got her password or something?"
The sheriff released the names and mug shots of the accused juveniles earlier this week to send a message to others in the community about cyberbullying. ABC News is not revealing either girl's identity because they have been charged as juveniles.
The parents of the 14-year-old suspect told ABC News earlier this week that they monitored their daughter's Facebook activities nightly and saw no signs of bullying, leading them to believe someone hacked her account.
Rebecca Sedwick Suicide: Parents of Alleged Cyberbully Blame Facebook Hack
When asked whether he was ashamed of his girlfriend's actions, John said, "It's like mixed feelings. One day tells me I'm tired of all of this bullying. This part tells me every day I'm tired of the bullying, because I don't want to see it again.
"But at the second part, it's like, I still don't believe that she did it. But the fact is that she still bullied her, she should never have done it."
John said he never saw his girlfriend or the 12-year-old suspect, who has also been charged with felony aggravated stalking, bully Rebecca online or in person.
Meanwhile, at a town hall meeting at Crystal Lake Middle School in Lakeland, Fla., Thursday night, Sheriff Judd revealed new information that there were clear warning signs Rebecca wanted to end her life. Judd said he saw postings on her Facebook wall asking, "how many over-the-counter drugs do you take to die?"
Teen Charged in Fatal Cyberbullying Case of Rebecca Sedwick to Remain in Jail
"We must talk to our children, we must give them the opportunity to open up," Judd told parents.
John says bullying is a problem at Crystal Lake Middle School, where he Rebecca and the two suspects all went to school.
"I have seen bullying at school, and I almost got into a fight because they were bullying," he said. "They were jumping my friend ..., and I pushed the other kid out of the way and told him, 'You don't need to be stepping on him,' and we almost got in a fight, but everybody was holding me back," John said.
John says he is now on a mission to expose bullies and urges anyone who is a victim of bullying to speak up and alert others. He says Rebecca and the alleged bullying are something he thinks about every day.
"I think about her almost every day.
That comes to my mind almost every day," he said, adding, "I
could have stopped it."
parents won't stop cyberbullies, experts say
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd a longtime crusader against cyberbullying has been pushing to charge the parents of the 14-year-old girl with failing to monitor her online activity before she was arrested in Sedwick's suicide. But no states have passed a law holding parents criminally liable for cyberbullying waged by their children.
In fact, a jury of experts already offers a clear verdict on that notion: It wont stop online taunting.
Such statutes might even drive online harassment deeper into the Internet underground, further from the reach of schools and parents, making the abuse and the abusers harder to find and exacerbating the trauma to young victims, assert several anti-cyberbullying advocates.
Judd told TODAY on Thursday that he aims to make sure that we do everything we can to send a loud message so parents have to pay attention. At this point in the investigation, we don't have a criminal case against any parents. We wish we did. On Thursday, Florida lawyer Mark O'Mara, defense attorney for George Zimmerman, announced he was drafting a proposed law to hold parents accountable in some cyberbullying cases.
In an unrelated development Friday afternoon, the mother of the 14-year-old girl charged in connection with the online taunting of Sedwick was herself arrested by the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Vivian Vosburg, 30, was booked into the county jail on two counts of felony child abuse and four counts of child neglect. That arrest was prompted by a one-minute Facebook video obtained this week by the Polk County Sheriff's Office -- and played for media members Friday -- in which Vosburg is shown, in the sheriff's words, entering a bedroom in which two boys were fighting. "Vivian rushed in and immediately started beating one of them with her fist," Judd said. "One of the boys rolled onto the floor and appeared to be unconscious, or at least not doing a lot moving, and she continued to hit the other one."
While Friday's arrest was not directly linked to the cyber-stalking charge against Vosburg's daughter, Judd did say: "What I suggest to you is the bullying that we saw (allegedly carried out by Vosburg's daughter) certainly could have been a byproduct of what I saw that occurs, apparently, as a routine in the home."
Thirty-four states have enacted laws banning cyberbullying since the 2006 suicide of Megan Meier, a 13-year-old girl with depression who committed suicide after being taunted on MySpace by the mother of a former friend, but there are no state statutes that open the path to prosecute the parents of cyberbullies.
"To my knowledge in the United States, no one has yet brought an action against parents in connection with kids cyberbullying," said Parry Aftab, a security, privacy and cyberspace lawyer, adding that a federal law does make it a felony to harass someone directly via digital technology. "But at some point, parents have to step up and be parents," said Aftab. "Theyve got to keep other kids safe from their kids' acting out."
"You should die," and "Why don't you go kill yourself," were among the hate-filled messages investigators found directed at Sedwick on social media. The problems between Sedwick and the other girls arose in 2012 over a "boyfriend issue," Judd said earlier.
Tragedies like Sedwick's suicide can spark the hunt for a scapegoat, but prosecuting parents isn't the solution, says Sameer Hinduja, a criminal justice professor at Florida Atlantic University and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. "Legislators and politicians jump in and say we've got to pass laws, have stronger sanctions. But when you think it through and ask what's going to deter someone from messing up the same way again, (prosecuting the parents) is not the best way to respond. "
Legal sanctions imposed on parents could pit the child against the parents, Hinduja added. "The child will be in trouble even further, perhaps for getting the parent into trouble," he said.
Even the most well-intentioned parents cannot police their kids' social-networking habits around the clock, said Tina Meier, whose 13-year-old daughter Megan committed suicide in 2006 after allegedly being hoaxed and bullied on the social network MySpace by Lori Drew, the mother of one of Megan's former friends. Drew was found guilty by a federal jury of three computer-crime misdemeanors. In 2009, a federal judge vacated the conviction.
"Is it important for us to hold parents accountable for their childrens actions?" Meier asked. "Yes. But it's impossible for parents to be there 24 hours a day."
There are many parents "who truly simply dont know about it, or who are really trying (to monitor their children's computer use)," Meier told NBC News.
Casey M., a 17-year-old Internet safety advocate from New Rochelle, N.Y., feels indicting parents for their kids' online bullying acts will have "an inverse effect" and increase online tormenting. Casey M. is part of the national Teen Angels campaign, which speaks to parents and teenagers about Internet safety and cyberbullying. Group members don't use their last names when speaking with the media.
"The more that parents try to control what their kids are doing online, the more sneaky kids get, and the less parents know what their kids are doing online," Casey M. said, adding that she's never faced serious cyberbullying. "The kids would try to hide things a little more."
Long before the suicide of Rebecca Sedwick, Sheriff Judd had emerged as a passionate leader in the national effort to curb cyberbullying. In 2007, Judd became coordinator of the Central Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. He also is a top digital forensic specialist. Under his watch, Internet-crime prosecutions increased by 37 percent in that region. Judd did not respond to an interview request Friday by NBC News.
On Thursday, the parents of one of the two girls charged in connection with Sedwick's suicide said through their attorney that they frequently tracked their daughter's cellphone and Facebook accounts and never saw a problem to confront and, further, that their daughter "is a loving, caring, and supportive young girl with many friends."
While no parents have been charged for their child's cyberbullying, in sporadic cases, police and prosecutors have charged and convicted American parents for negligence after their children killed other kids with loaded guns left lying around the house or by crashing cars into other people when driving drunk, Aftab said.
"Charges are only brought (in those situations) when you see youre not going to be able to stop the kids from doing this again because their parents either don't care or arent willing to step in and do something effective," said Aftab, who founded Teen Angels and runs WiredSafety.org.
An estimated 15 percent of U.S. adolescents report being bullied on the Internet during a given year, according to a survey conducted in 2012.
But Casey M. believes the victimization rate is far higher.
"It's really such a widespread
problem," she said. "I've found that you can pretty much
talk to anyone and they'll know of someone directly involved
in a more serious cyber-harassment situation."
an option for bullied students
Old-school wisdom held that children should face their bullies head-on, but we know better now. Confronting a bully can be dangerous, and it rarely stops bad behavior. Parents and students are required to report episodes of bullying, and the alleged bullies are then confronted with the allegations sometimes in face-to-face encounters with the victim and his or her parents. While this may inhibit the bullying behavior for a time, this method often backfires, as the bullied student may be dubbed a snitch and then alienated or further bullied by friends of the bully. This can lead to a frustrating cycle of parental/school/student involvement that ultimately makes focusing on academics impossible for the victims. This is exactly what the school was putting my daughter through. A student curses or pushes a teacher once and they get expelled. They do the same repeatedly to another student, and they get counseled not to do it again.
The National Center for Educational Statistics indicates that more than one of every five students in the U.S. -- 20.8 percent -- has been a victim of bullying, with most of these bullying episodes (35 percent) taking place in schools. I find these statistic terrifying because studies have shown that adults who were bullied as kids have more problems with mental health -- including depression, anxiety, drug abuse, and suicidal tendencies -- than adults who never suffered bullying. High=profile bullying cases like that of Ashley Cardona, a 12-year-old from Denver who killed herself after enduring repeated taunts from her classmates about her looks, have inspired many parents like me to homeschool. It isnt an overreaction when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that suicide is the third leading cause of death in teens, with an estimated 4,400 deaths by suicide every year. According to the CDC, 14 percent of teens in high school say they have considered suicide.
Although my first reaction was to find a way to homeschool my daughter, as a single mom I could not afford to quit my job. I soon realized why homeschooling is such a difficult decision. Most parents arent trained teachers and many dont have the time to coach their children through their studies. Through research I learned that online schools appear to be becoming increasingly popular when it comes to homeschooling. They often offer one-stop-shopping for a childs academic needs, full-feature video courses, exercises and many other resources provided by licensed teachers. Because they are private institutions, they have the added benefit of allowing a parent choice over their childs curriculum and teacher. This alternative is attractive because the environment alleviates the anxiety, fear and drama associated with being bullied and frees the students to concentrate on their studies.
I am all for public education, but
when it comes to the safety of my children, I say if the
public school cant keep my kids safe, I will not
hesitate to move them to an online school where they can
concentrate on their studies instead of worrying about being
harassed each day. I am sure my work colleagues would not
think twice either if it happened to their child.
and Theater Students Are More Likely to Be Bullied
But a new study reports these long-term advantages come at a substantial short-term cost: The kid who carries a violin case, or is quietly practicing her lines, is more likely to be accidentally tripped in the hall, or subjected to nasty gossip.
Music and theater students face a significantly greater risk than their non-arts peers of reporting being the victims of bullying behavior, write Kenneth Elpus of the University of Maryland and Bruce Allen Carter of Florida International University.
Elpus and Carter analyzed data from the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey. They noted student reports of various forms of in-person physical, verbal, and relational aggression in the 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013 questionnaires, as well as cyberbullying (which was included in the questionnaire starting in 2007).
If youre studying the classics, the three Bs should not be Bach, Beethoven, and bullying.
The data set featured 26,420 middle- and high-school students, including approximately 7,400 who participated in music or theater. Unfortunately, the data did not break out statistics for the two activities, so we dont know if the rate of bullying is higher for theater or music students, or if theyre roughly equal.
The researchers report that, after taking into account such factors as race and socioeconomic status, female music and theater students faced a 41 percent greater risk of being bullied, and male music and theater students faced a 69 percent greater risk of being bullied than their peers.
Looking specifically at middle school??a period when bullying typically peaks??the researchers found theater and music students had a 39 percent chance of being bullied, compared to a 30 percent chance for their peers who did not participate in such activities.
Not surprisingly, the bullying was more likely to involve physical aggression for boys, and relational aggression for girls??hurtful behavior such as spreading rumors or exclusion from desirable social activities. Female music and theater students had nearly a one-in-three chance of experiencing this sort of victimization, compared to a one-in-four chance for female athletes.
Elpus and Carter argue there are concrete steps teachers can take to respond to bullying, including (a) making explicit a no-tolerance policy for bullying within the classroom, (b) opening the music classroom for students during times when it is not being used for class, such as lunch, and (c) generally being committed to a culture of safety and respect.
Pre-service music teachers should explore what behaviors constitute bullying, how to recognize both overt and covert aggressions, and have specific preparation in strategies for the prevention or elimination of bullying, they add.
Clearly, something must be done. If
youre studying the classics, the three Bs should not
be Bach, Beethoven, and bullying.
Bullying occurs once every seven minutes. That means that while you read this tip sheet, it is likely that at least one bullying incident will have occurred. In schools across America, one in three students report being bullied weekly. The good news: educators want to do something about it. In 2010, NEA conducted the first nationwide survey to include the opinions of education support professionals as well as teachers on issues relating to bullying in public schools. According to NEAs survey, 98% of school staff believed its their job to intervene when they see bullying occur.
So, we agree that we should do something about bullying. Where do we start? In order to intervene, we must first be able to identify bullying. Once bullying is identified, we can take the necessary actions to stop bullying and prevent it from occurring in the future. This tool kit is intended to help educators know how to identify bullying, intervene in a bullying incident, and advocate for bullied students.
Understand What Bullying Is
Bullying is systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt and/or psychological distress on another. Bullying can be physical, verbal or social. Bullying is not just childs play, but a frightening experience many students face every day. It can be as direct as teasing, hitting, threatening, destruction of property or forcing someone to do something against their will, or as indirect as in rumors, exclusion, or manipulation. Bullying involves a real or perceived power imbalance between the one who bullies and their target.
Understand What Bullying Is Not
It is important not to misuse the term bullying for every behavior problem. Identifying what a behavior really is (and labeling the behavior not the student) helps us to select the most appropriate intervention strategies. Can you distinguish bullying from normal conflict? There are three basic ways to know the difference. The student doing the bullying:
Picks on their target day after day (repetition).
Wins because their target is smaller, younger or less socially able to cope (power imbalance).
Enjoys seeing their target afraid and upset (intent to harm).
What About Bullying I Cant See
Todays students are faced with bullying that the caring adults in their lives cant always see at school (at least not in the traditional sense).
Cyberbullying is the term applied to bullying over the Internet, via email, text messaging, and similar technological modes of communication. Cyberbullying includes sending or posting harmful material or engaging in other forms of social aggression. This form of bullying is more intense as it can occur around the clock, and the text or images can be widely disseminated, well beyond the school grounds.
Sexting is the term combining the words sex and texting. It applies to the act of creating, sending, posting and disseminating sexually suggestive text messages, pictures or videos of oneself or others. Sexting generally is done via cell phones, but teens also use computers, web cams, digital cameras and other electronic devices to get to the Internet.
Bullying and Sexual Harassment
Sexual harrassment at school is unwanted and unwelcomed behavior of a sexual nature that interferes with a students rights to receive an equal educational opportunity. Bullying and sexual harassment are different, yet linked, behaviors. Bullying in children can develop into sexual harassment in older students. Bullying and sexual harassment share several predictors, such as low empathy and a need for dominance in a relationship.
Bullying and Assault
Assault is defined as a violent verbal or physical attack. Assault is a form of extreme bullying that has legal implications. Targets of assault may seek legal action.
Where Bullying Behaviors Take Place
Bullying occurs during the school day and after school hours. It happens in the school building, in classrooms, hallways, bathrooms, and in the cafeteria; on the playground or other outdoor common areas on school grounds; and on the bus or at the bus stop. It is important to note that bullying occurs most often in areas where there is little or no adult supervision.
Bullying and District and School Policies
A clear definition of bullying is an essential component of bullying policies. You should be able to locate your school and/or district policy on bullying. Assess the policy for inclusion and accuracy of a bullying definition. If your school or district doesnt have a policy or if the definition is unclear, this is a good place to get started with your prevention program and advocacy efforts.
Bullying and State Laws
Almost all states currently have a law addressing bullying in schools. Review the law for inclusion of a bullying definition. Does the law effectively communicate an educators legal responsibilities regarding bullying? Does the law require training of all school staff?
Commonly Targeted Populations
Usually, the students targeted by hurtful comments or actions are different from their peers in some way. According to the NEA survey, educators reported that bullying based on a students weight (23%), gender (20%), perceived sexual orientation (18%), and disability (12%) were of concern in their school. Homophobia plays a large role in the bullying of students who are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), gender non-conforming, or those questioning their sexual identity. According to a 2011 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), 8 out of 10 middle and high school LGBT students experience harassment at school because of their sexual orientation. Students are also commonly targets of bullying based on their religious beliefs. Research has shown a trend in the bullying of Muslim- American students. Recent studies indicate the group most targeted for bullying is special education students. When special education students are targets of bullying, some are likely to then bully fellow special education students.
Know the Consequences
Bullying will lead to a number of negative consequences academically and emotionally. In addition to poor attendance and decreased academic performance, bullying causes feelings of helplessness, anger and frustration. The consequences experienced are not limited just to the person who is bullied. Bullying causes mental, physical and emotional damage to all involved, including bystanders.
And, research has shown the effects last well into adulthood. When you think of these consequences remember this one fact: Bullying is preventable and, thereby, the consequences are too.
What is Bullying?
I have witnessed physical and verbal bullying in the cafeteria, especially when adult presence is low, says Donna. This usually happens during breakfast when we have a limited staff on duty. Name calling and pushing and shoving are typical things that we deal with.
Donna West, a food service
professional at Brownwood Elementary School in Scottsboro,
Alabama, says even the young children in her K-4 school need
to be reminded that bullying can hurt.
Aiming to move beyond an over-simplified focus on bullying, CivilSchools empowers educators, students, and parents with the critical tools necessary to build a culture of civility in which bullying is no longer a part of campus climate.
Utilizing parent engagement materials, Student UPstander Intervention Trainings, educator professional development, and a 25-week advisory curriculum, CivilSchools offers hands-on, preventative tools based on cutting-edge research to get beyond punitive measures and build a framework for preventing bullying before it starts and responding to bullying behavior in more effective ways.
All content from CivilSchools is
accessible both by in-person trainings facilitated by Jamie
Utt but also as a three-part video seminar series.
What type of kid
is a bully?
Bullies tend to share common characteristics. They like to dominate others and are generally selfcentered. Their behavior can be fueled by their own physical strength or their strong social positionamong peers. They often lack judgment in social situations. Sometimes they have no feelings of empathy or caring toward other people.
Why are some kids bullies?
There are many theories about what causes bullying behaviors. Family dynamics that include criticism, sarcasm or repeated rejection can create a view that the world is a hostile place. Media images and messages often portray harassment as humorous or acceptable.
Technology has made it possible for bullies to use cyberspace to deliver hurtful messages or images easily, and more important, anonymously.
A school culture that ignores casual
cruelty among its students also contributes to bullying
Intervene in a Bullying
Know Your Rights And Responsibilities Intervening in a bullying incident is the right thing to do and there is a right way to do it. It is our responsibility as educators to know how and what we are expected to do, and how laws and policies support our actions. For example, when you intervene in a bullying incident, you are not infringing on the bullying students right to free speech. It is also important to be aware of what your legal protections are (e.g., contract language, liability insurance, and school policies).
Consistency is the Key
Ultimately, the steps to take to intervene should be trained and discussed as a part of a comprehensive school-wide bullying prevention program.
Research local resources (e.g., counseling, anger management) so that you are prepared to make any needed referrals.
Stop the Incident Immediately Separate the student doing the bullying and their target. Stand between them in order to block eye contact, ensuring you can observe both.
Separate the student doing the bullying and their target. Stand between them in order to block eye contact, ensuring you can observe both.
Make Sure Everyone is Safe
Address any health needs or injuries. Get assistance from other school staff members if necessary. Make sure to ask the bullied student, Are you okay? Seek police or medical assistance immediately per your school policies, if:
Give a Clear Message
Bullying is unacceptable. Remain calm as you address the students. Label the behavior as bullying. Cite relevant school or classroom rules (e.g., Name calling is bullying. Bullying and not respecting others are both against the rules in our school.). If anti-bullying rules or posters are on nearby walls, point them out. Students who bully must hear the message that their behavior is wrong and harms others. Bullied students must hear the message that caring adults will protect them.
Prepare to Follow-Up After the Incident
Dont send students away at this point, but do refrain from asking questions and trying to sort out the situation. This should be handled one on one, after the incident. Do not require students to apologize or make amends immediately when you stop the incident. Keep everyone calm as you first focus on safety. Then advise all parties to the bullying that you will be following up.
Support the Bullied Student
Make eye contact with the bullied student, demonstrate empathy, and reassure the student that what happened was not their fault. Never tell the student to ignore the bullying
If the bystanders did stand-up, reinforce their efforts. Let the bystanders know that you admire their courage and thank them for speaking up, which helps themselves and other students. If the bystanders did not intervene, give them examples of how to intervene appropriately the next time that they see bullying (e.g., get help from an adult, tell the person to stop). Research points to the important role bystanders can play during a bullying incident and in changing the school climate.12
Investigate and Document
After a bullying incident, an investigation should be conducted. Remember to question all those involved individually. The incident also should be documented according to school procedures.
After a bullying incident, an investigation should be conducted. Remember to question all those involved individually. The incident also should be documented according to school procedures.
Consider Consequences for those who Bully
If appropriate, impose immediate consequences for the student doing the bullying. Consequences work best when they are logical and communicated in advance. After the incident, keep a close eye on the student who bullied to prevent any retaliatory attempts, and make sure he/she knows that you plan to do so. Be sure to provide the necessary support for those who bully, such as counseling or anger management classes.
Avoid a Working Things Out Approach
Do not require the students to meet and work things out. They dont know how. They need adult intervention. Because bullying involves a power imbalance, such a strategy will not work and can actually re-traumatize the student who was bullied.
Be a Caring Adult for Bullied Students
Continue to make sure the bullied students are supported well beyond the incident. Make sure they have the resources they need. Reach out to other staff members who can provide guidance and emotional support to students. Advocate for bullied students by making a concerted effort to stop bullying at your school. Come together as a school by involving parents and the local community in your efforts. Addressing bullying cannot and should not be done by the school alone. The entire community must be involved so that students feel safe in both their school and their community.
HOW DO I INTERVENE?
Students know I will listen to them, accept what they have to say, and try to help them when they are in need, he says. Everyone deserves to feel safe at school, and when kids feel safe and know they are accepted for who they are, they will thrive academically and socially. Dave Seaburg, Teacher
NEA Bully Free: It Starts With Me Pledge Taker
Be An Advocate
for Bullied Students
An advocate is one that pleads the cause of another, or one who supports or promotes the interests of another. The question is how can we, as educators, support students who have been bullied? How can we plead the cause of all bullied students and stop bullying? We have to be their champions. We must create a culture in our schools, which will hopefully spread to society, where everyone is treated respectfully and bullying is correctly understood and addressed. This tool kit is intended to help educators know how to identify bullying, intervene in a bullying incident, and advocate for bullied students.
When you take NEAs Bully Free pledge, you are promising students that they can talk to you and you will listen, that you will stand up for them, and that they are not alone. Take the following actions to carry out your promise to advocate for bullied students.
We know that bullying commonly takes place in areas on school grounds with little or no supervision (such as in the hallways between classes). Make an effort to move to the areas where students are during transition times. Just your presence can make a huge difference. And, when something does happen, you are there to see it with your own eyes and intervene right away.
Students must be provided with a safe school climate that is conducive to learning. Bullying is a huge deterrent to a safe learning environment. In education, we sometimes feel that there are many things that impact student learning that are out of our control. Bullying is not one of those things. A student who is being bullied at school is being denied an opportunity to learn. We have the ability to change this, to stop the negative impacts to students well-being and their ability to learn, and ultimately, in some cases, to save their lives.
Expand your advocacy for bullied students, by ensuring that your school has a comprehensive bullying prevention plan in place. A prevention plan enables educators to have a process in place for learning how to recognize bullying behaviors, how to intervene appropriately when its witnessed, and how to prevent it in the first place.
Involve your students as peer advocates. Get student input when developing a bullying prevention plan. Integrate the topic of bullying and how to deal with it into your curriculum.
Role-play with students on diffusing a bullying situation and engaging bystanders. Create opportunities for students to work together, such as assignments that require sharing and collaboration. An anti-bullying curricula should encourage students to report bullying and harassment to an adult.
Locate and conduct school climate surveys with staff and students. Surveys can help identify areas for improvement in regards to school climate. A positive school climate is associated with less bullying and more learning. You can also conduct a mapping activity. This involves making copies of the school map and asking all staff to indicate where they think students do and do not feel safe. The same activity should be done with students. Mapping these hot spots is a very effective indicator of where bullying could be occurring. Strategies must be implemented to remedy these hot spots (e.g., more adult supervision on the stairwells or better lighting in dark hallways). Bullying is most likely to occur in schools where there is a lack of adult supervision during the day, so lets make wise changes to staff assignments and keep students safe.
Let your voice be heard with a call to action. Organize your local and state association members, as well as non-menbers and parents around bullying prevention. Get bullying on the map; ensure that space is carved out to address bullying at local meetings and state conferences. Track changes to your states anti-bullying law. Also, review and revise state education agency and district polices related to bullying. Remember that parents of bullied students can be strong allies and advocates.
Zero tolerance policies hinder bullying prevention efforts. Such policies generally involve suspension or exclusion from school and are related to increased drop out rates and discriminatory application of school discipline practices. Also, there is no evidence that removing students from school makes a positive contribution to school safety. We do know that students who bully need pro-social models. We can advocate for bullied students by working to develop and/or utilize bullying prevention programs that do work, such as:
Targeted behavioral support programs for at-risk students
Character education and social-emotional learning programs
School-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports
Early intervention strategies
A large part of being an advocate for bullied students is to not accept the status quo. Be informed about measures you and/or your school may be using that are known not to work, or that make a situation worse. For example, peer mediation and conflict resolution are valuable strategies that do work in other instances, but they are NOT the right fit for dealing with bullying. The message that both parties are partly right and partly wrong is inappropriate. Students who bully must receive the message that their behavior is wrong and wont be tolerated. The fact that peer mediation exacerbates the imbalance of power between the student who bullies and their target also cannot be ignored. Speak up for changing out the current way of addressing bullying. The research is out there; encourage your colleagues to be open to change.
Education Support Professionals (ESPs), such as bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and paraeducators, are likely to be present where bullying tends to occur, so they need concrete strategies to use during an incident. Be sure to involve all school staff in the development of a comprehensive school-wide prevention plan as well as in all trainings. ESP-specific resources are also needed.
Monitor classrooms and school grounds for implementation fidelity. Consistency of effort is essential. Bullying prevention requires a long-term commitment.
NEAs vision and mission statements are rooted in social justice. Social justice includes a vision of society in which all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Bullying and sexual harassment are behaviors designed to oppress another person. It is our duty as educators to assure a safe learning environment and social justice for all students.
HOW DO I ADVOCATE?
I was bullied badly when I was a student, starting all the way back in elementary school. It started in my fifth grade Physical Education class. I didnt throw a ball in the most masculine ways. One of the boys yelled, You throw like a girl! Then others joined in. Youre a queer, they said, laughing. By high school, the constant bullying led me to extreme depression. My grades dropped, and so did my aspirations. I attempted suicide twice. When I recovered and finally came to terms with who I was, I knew I was going to dedicate my life to making sure that no other kids would endure what I endured.
Vincent Pompei, Teacher