School administrators, teachers and counselors in Missouri were offered a fantastic opportunity to learn effective bullying prevention strategies first-hand during the Missouri Center for Education Safety’s first-annual Bullying Summit. The event was held on October 18th and consisted of multiple breakout sessions and keynote speakers who offered information and insight into today’s bullying prevention problems.
As a Missouri-based program, the CyberBully Hotline was honored to take part in the event through our sponsorship of Scott Poland, Ed. D, who gave the keynote address: “Bullying Victimization and School Safety.” Scott Poland, is a psychologist and mental health expert and gave a riveting presentation on the links between bullying, harassment and suicide.
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. He has lectured and written extensively on these subjects, appeared on all major television network news programs, and has presented over 1,000 workshops in every state and numerous foreign countries. He served on the President’s Roundtable on Youth Violence and has testified about the needs of children before the U. S. Congress on four occasions Dr. Poland is a founding member of the National Emergency Assistance Team for the National Association of School Psychologists and serves as the Prevention Director for the American Association of Suicidology.
The event also showcased many bullying prevention programs including, the CyberBully Hotline, Olweus, CharacterPlus, GreenDot, and featured other presentations, including Lynn Lang from the Archdiocese of St. Louis who spoke on Virtue-Based Restorative Justice ™, and Scott Sommers, an attorney with the Missouri School Boards Association who covered Missouri bullying statutes and case law.
Both Tina Meier and Dr. Scott Poland shared their personal experience with suicide and how it has shaped their personalities and career paths as a result. Tina provided a powerful summary of Megan’s Story and Dr. Poland covered the problem of teen suicide from a clinical perspective and school response perspective offering insight, information, and best practices.
US News Education featured a prominent article “Parents May be Teaching Teens to be Bullies” in their October 10th issue. This article echos a post made here in which I used the trashing of Braves stadium during Cards-Braves wild card game playoff to show how bad behavior by adults is transmitted to young people.
This article also featured comments by Dr. Nicole Yetter, who is a consultant and adviser to the CyberBully Hotline. We are pleased to see Dr. Yetter being sought out and recognized for her bullying insights.
Key points from the the article:
Students pick up on how parents talk about others, but they are also tuned into how their parents treat one another.
Bullying between parents can take the form of overt verbal abuse, but it can also be a more subtle over-extension of power.
Fostering a sense of entitlement in teens who excel academically or athletically is another way well-intentioned parents may inadvertently breed bullies.
Kids that never hear no, or have few rules and guidelines can contribute to bullying behavior.
Great article and support of the concept that bullying behavior is learned by kids through their parents, peers and environment.
By Dr. Nicole Yetter, Bullying and Education Consultant October 11, 2012
It is with an extremely heavy heart that I write this month’s blog. Tragedy has struck a small town in Northeastern, PA. In one week, the lives of four Luzerne County schoolchildren had ended from suicide. This senseless act reinforces the need for a call to action by everyone, not only in the Luzerne County region, but all across America. Sadly, many of the students claim that bullying and harassment may have played a role in the suicides of their classmates.
Suicide is never the answer! Suicide is preventable and talking about it can help save lives. In a recent Youth Risk Survey, 25% of teens have thought about suicide and 90% of those that did commit suicide have severe mental health or substance abuse issues. Children and adults need to know there is an outlet and someone will be there to listen.
If ever a student threatens to harm themselves in some way, offer these words of encouragement:
“I want you to live.”
“I’m on your side and care about you.”
“We’ll get through this together.”
“I am here to help.”
These words can help cut through the isolation and desolation they are feeling. Caring May Save A Life And Hope Begins With You!
On behalf of the CyberBully Hotline and myself, we send our sincere condolences to all those affected by this tragedy in Luzerne County and to all of those that may be struggling across America. Help is available, please don’t give up!
The Wentzville, MO School District announced the kick off of their CyberBully Hotline program to their parents and school community on Monday October 8th. The school district utilized parent engagement best practices in their announcement, incorporating news of the service across all their school communication channels; including: website, social media sites, and issued a press release on the matter which was picked up locally by Fox 2 News.
As reported by Fox 2:
“The program helps create an anonymous way for people to report bullying, harassment or intimidation.
A designated school official gets the message and can have an anonymous conversation, which the district hopes will encourage students to use it. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If parents or students have any questions or require further information, they can contact any school office, visit the CyberBully Hotline section of the District website, or visit www.cyberbullyhotline.com to learn more.”
Wentzville School District is joined by the Hancock and St. Louis Special School Districts who have implemented the CyberBully Hotline since the beginning of the 2012-13 school year and represent a new trend by school administrators who embrace new anonymous reporting systems as a means to reach students who may be fearful of an initial face to face meeting.
From the CyberBully Hotline team…way to go Wentzville, Hancock, and the St. Louis Special School District!
Once again I am thrilled to see my St. Louis Cardinals in the post-season hunt. In 2011, they came from 10 games back with 30 days to play to make it into the post-season. This year the end of the season was equally dramatic but not so graceful. With the season again coming down to the wire, the Cardinals earned the newly created 2nd NL Wild Card spot and the right to play in the single-game wild card playoff.
What does all this have to do with bullying? Like Yadier Molina legging out a double…I’m getting there.
After being down 2-0, throwing errors by Chipper Jones and Matt Uggla, coupled with timely hitting and aggressive play, allowed the Cards to go up 6-3 on the Braves. Then in the bottom of the 8th, with two on, Brave’s Andrelton Simmon, hit a shallow fly ball to left field. Cardinal’s shortstop Pete Kazma, camped out under it and then suddenly veered away as left-fielder Matt Holliday approached. Based loaded right? No! Left-field line umpire Sam Holdbrook called “infield fly – batter out.”
After a long discussion with the Braves manager and baseball commissioner Joe Torre, MLB VP of Baseball Operations, who upheld the call, the fans erupted in furor tossing bottles, foam tomahawks, and anything not nailed down on to the field. The scene was eerily reminiscent of Disco Demolition Night in 1979 at Comiskey Field and 10-cent Beer Night in 1974 at Cleveland Field. (It scares me that I remember these things – I am getting old!)
Getting to my point…Yadier makes it to 2nd!
While the Braves fans’ frustration is understandable, their behavior is not. Imagine how many young fans at the game and watching on TV got a lesson in how to react to adversity and disappointment. A lone fan tossing a bottle is an idiot. Thousands doing the same is a reflection of our culture I fear, where today if you don’t like something you tear up the place. How many reality TV shows now feed our youth a daily stream of violence as when a boy starts a conversation with another girl, or when one talent show judge makes a remark that does not sit well with another.
Bad behavior is learned. Babies are not born fighters and bullies, they are converted into them by parents, siblings, relatives, peers and even by so-called “TV stars” who show them how its done. Experts say bullying behavior is learned starting at the age of 3-4; by the time a kid starts school they may have had years of coaching in bullying and abuse. Then, already overloaded school administrators must face the hard task of picking up the pieces where this behavior has 8 hours a day to manifest itself. Worse yet, through social media, bad behavior runs rampant on the internet where bullies can practice their trade with even less restraint.
So, sports fans, parents, brothers, sisters, and Reality TV stars, the next time you toss a bottle, an insult, or a punch, consider what message you are sending and who may be watching; and like the field crew at Braves stadium, who is left to clean up your mess.
“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.
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:
October 1st is being promoted as World Day of Bullying Prevention by the Love Our Children organization. In recognition of their efforts and this very worthwhile cause, all employees at SchoolReach wore blue shirts to work and we made a corporate contribution to Love Our Children. Our company colors are blue and yellow so this was very easy to accomplish! What a good looking group!
The main award for the night, like “Best Motion Picture” at the Oscars, was the Best-in-Class award for Total Campaign, which covered all aspects of a go-to-market strategy – website, direct marketing, newsletter, blog, brochure, and supporting collateral. We are pleased to announce that the CyberBully Hotline took the top TAM award for Total Campaign – winning the coveted Best-in-Class award. In addition, as a single item, our 8-page CyberBully Hotline brochure took the Silver TAM for Best Brochure.
Our winning materials and awards!
Our entire company was involved in the creation of the CyberBully Hotline campaign – from logo design to copy to image selection. The marketing department would post concepts on a long wall near our reception area and employees were asked to vote on various concepts until the final product was produced. We were greatly aided by our creative agency, Bloodlines Creative, on the overall creative strategy and its development.
We wish to thank all our employees, Bloodlines, and the St. Louis BMA for making the Best-in-Class TAM award possible.