Restorative Justice – Challenges and Opportunities

By Paul Langhorst                  October 5, 2012

“Restorative justice” is a big buzz word in bullying response and solutions these days and is garnering a lot of attention as a bullying response solution that produces significant results. However, restorative justice is not without its detriments and detractors as CyberBully Hotline contributor Janet M. Irvine points out in her latest submission: “The Opportunities and Challenges of Restorative Justice.

Janet M. Irvine, is a 20+ year former educator and lives in Canada, so not only does she bring extensive experience to the discussion, but also an international viewpoint. Janet is also an accomplished author, and her fictional book, When Push Comes to Shove Back, would make for a fantastic book report project that would also double as a lesson on how bullies, victims and bystanders can join forces for positive change.

You will enjoy reading Janet’s article, which can be found here.

 

 

 

Restorative Justice – Advice to a Parent

By Paul Langhorst                      October 4, 2012

Following up on my post earlier this week on restorative justice, where I highlighted a new article, Restorative Justice: The Opportunities and Challenges, by CyberBully Hotline contributor, Janet M. Irvine, I would  like share a new article that I ran across in my daily reading – Mr. Dad:  Fight Bullies with Restorative Justice, by Armin Brott.

In this article, a dad posts a question of how to respond after learning that is son is being bullied by an older child at school and is now pleading “not to have to go to school.”  Brott first addresses “Mr. Dad” and praises him for questioning his son and persevering with dialog until the son comes clean with his bullying problem. Brott then goes on to explain how schools have handled bullying in the past: ineffective peer mediation (bringing the bully and victim together); and even more infective, bully group counseling (bringing all the purported bullies together). Brott ends with an explanation of “restorative justice,” sharing an example of how if a bully smashed a kids lunch box, the bully would be required to replace the lunch box.

I encourage you to read Brott’s full article, which can be found here.

As Janet Irvine pointed out in her article, about the challenges of implementing a restorative justice program, the technique holds significant long-term potential for reduction in bullying behavior, however the downside is that it takes significant time and training for one to become skilled in the process. Furthermore, the penalties for non-compliance with the restorative justice measures are often voluntary or subject to bully-parent participation (the bully-parent providing money  for the replacement lunch box) and the same weakly enforced policies of the institution that allowed the bullying to happen in the first place.

In a perfect world, the lunch box would be replaced and bully-victim would be come friends and ride off in the sunset together.  When restorative justice works, it works well, and the results can be long lasting. The challenge is developing the skill and infrastructure to allow it to work.

If your school is seeking to develop a restorative justice program, here are some helpful links to additional information:

 

 

Suicide in the School Community – Response and Recovery: Webinar Event

In recognition of National Bullying Awareness Month (Oct 2012), please plan on joining us for a Professional Development webinar: Suicide in the School Community: Response & Recovery.

Expert in Teen Suicide - Tina MeierOur special guest speakers are Tina Meier of the Megan Meier Foundation and suicide/ mental health expert, Scott Poland.

The webinar is set for Monday, Oct. 15th, 2012 from 10:30-11:30 AM CDT  Register for this powerful webinar here.

Since her daughter Megan’s suicide, Tina Meier has committed her life to battling bullying and cyberbullying. Tina Meier is helping school administrators across the country expand their knowledge of the impact of bullying on kids and their families.

Dr. Scott Poland is a nationally recognized expert on school crisis, youth violence, suicide intervention, self injury, school safety, threat assessment, parenting and the delivery of psychological services in schools. From Dr. Poland learn about the link between bullying and suicide; learn warning signs of suicidal behavior and thoughts; learn tips on how to speak to students and your communities about suicide; and learn best practices for dealing with the aftermath of a suicide in your school community.

Anonymous Bullying Reporting: Works with Olweus and PBIS Programs

By Paul Langhorst

This week we posted two new articles on the CyberBully Hotline website that detail how anonymous bullying reporting solutions such as the CyberBully Hotline can work in concert with popular bullying prevention programs such as Olweus and PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Supports). The hallmark of both these programs is opening the lines of communication between students, and between students and staff/faculty.

These “whole school” bullying prevention programs are built around a framework of classroom meetings during which communication principles are modeled and practiced.  For example, PBIS teaches the Stop, Walk and Talk model where bullying victims are taught to stop the bullying or abusive behavior with a combination of a verbal and hand signals and then taught to seek a trusted adult to report the abusive behavior.

Anonymous reporting fits into these programs nicely in two key ways:

  • An anonymous reporting solution helps expand the ways in which a victim or bystander can report incidents. May victims and bystanders are filled with fear and an anonymous reporting method can help open a path resolution.  Experts indicate that as much as 50% of bullying and cyberbullying goes unreported due to student fears.  An anonymous reporting solution helps address the problems that may be lurking, unseen below the surface.
  • The classroom meeting is an ideal platform from which the anonymous reporting program can be discussed and promoted.

I encourage you to review the above articles depending on whether your school is running Olweus or PBIS to learn more specifics.

 

 

Cyberbullying vs Physical Bullying’s Impact on LGBTQ Youth

By Paul Langhorst

The Examiner recently posted a great article on the impact of cyberbullying vs. physical bullying on LGBTQ youth (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Questioning). The article by Gregory Kelly,  suggests that cyberbullying has a far harsher impact on LGBTQ youth.

Citing the statistics below, Gregory suggests that cyberbullying is far more damaging to LGBTQ youth than physical bullying, because of the wide spread nature of cyberbullying vs. physical bully.

Sobering statistics:

  • Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt (2007 , The American Association of Suicidology, Grossman, D’Augelli, “Transgender Youth and Life-Threatening Behaviors”)
  • Approximately 20% of the students report experiencing cyberbullying in their lifetimes.
  • Mean or hurtful comments (13.7%) and rumors spread (12.9%) online are the most common types of cyberbullying.

Physical bullying is typically one-on-one, or by a small group upon a single individual, which keeps the stigma of the attacks within a smaller sphere. Cyberbullying, played out on the internet and trough social media, can have a far wider reach to non-involved individuals (bystanders). For example, imagine that a popular student tweets that he/she thinks “Johnny Student is gay.” The popular student may have hundreds of Twitter followers, both at Johnny’s school and at others.  Whether or not he is gay, Johnny’s life is instantly turned upside down. Such rumors spread like wildfire and Johnny is instantly cast as gay, causing him to battle emotionally internally and externally with the mantel.  In addition, what starts online can lead to physical bullying to compound the matter.

Therefore, in the battle against bullying at your school or organization, pay special attention to reports of cyberbullying against LGBTQ youth, for those students may be at a greater risk of suicide than other  students.