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.

Female Aggression Expert, Joyce L. Davis, Joins CyberBully Hotline as Contributor

By Paul Langhorst        Sept. 25, 2012

We would like to recognize and welcome Joyce L. Davis, M.A. to the CyberBully Hotline Female Agression Expertteam. Joyce will be providing articles and insight into the unique challenges associated with female on female bullying and aggression.  Joyce has been a dedicated teacher and counselor for more than 13 years having taught in middle schools in both Maryland and Florida. She has served on several boards of education at the secondary and tertiary levels and has participated in numerous advocacy programs that promote excellence and self-development among adolescents.

As the founder and Executive Director of Pearl Girlz, LLC., Joyce has a clearly defined goal to “celebrate the unique pearl in every girl” by providing female bullying prevention workshops and pro-social training programs that offer teen girls the necessary tools to be successful in life, to appreciate their total beauty and to be proud of their unique identity.

Bullying Prevention Partner Page Added to CyberBully Hotline Website

By Paul Langhorst                 September 1, 2012

Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!

It’s Saturday morning, 7:46 AM, and I am laboring away on the CyberBully Hotline website launching a new partner page which can be found here: http://www.cyberbullyhotline.com/partners.html.

This page currently features two of our partners, Web Wise Kids and the Megan Meier Foundation. More are in development and their logos and brief description will be added shortly. Our partners help guide and refine the services offered by the CyberBully Hotline or may offers services which can be used to augment overall bully prevention efforts. We encourage you to check them out, and check back often to see who has been added.

Don’t work too hard over the Labor Day Weekend!

 

 

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.

 

 

“Nice” Twitter Accounts Used to Combat Cyberbullying

By Paul Langhorst                        August 15, 2012

I’ve been reading about students creating “nice” Twitter accounts to combat “negative” Twitter accounts that are started to harass and bully students.  This is a very encouraging trend and I hope one that continues to gain momentum.

An example is  @OsseoNiceThings, a Twitter account started by 17-year old Kevin Curwick.  As reported on KARE-11 (Minneapolis-St. Paul), Curwick, one of the football team’s captains, decided he could no longer sit on the sidelines when online bullying became a spectator sport in his school.

Several anonymous Twitter accounts had sprung up that were ripping on individual students. Curwick was not a student being attacked, but had had enough.  He started tweeting nice things about students who were targeted by the negative accounts.  Finding good things to say about them.

In a very short time, the negative Twitter accounts that were harassing students ceased to exist – an example of Good overpowering Evil.  And, a prime example of how bystanders can step in and stop bullying quickly.  Bullies are empowered by the inaction of their peers. They see no action as acceptance and it emboldens them to do more.  When bullies see that their peers do not accept their behavior, and take proactive steps to bring the bullying behavior to light, the bullying stops.

Examples of other “nice” Twitter accounts reported by KARE-11 are:

Way to go Kevin Curwick!!! The CyberBully Hotline salutes you!

‘No More Bullying’ Event Recap

By Paul Langhorst              August 6, 2012

SchoolReach and the CyberBully Hotline participated in the ‘No More Bullying’ event held at the St. Louis Mills Mall over the weekend.  We co-sponsored the Radio Disney Road Crew and their appearance helped increase traffic and added excitement and energy by engaging kids in dancing, singing, and activity-based games.

Tine Meier of the Megan Meier Foundation was the main draw and she spoke to an

Cyberbullying information

The CyberBully Hotline balloons were a big hit at the No More Bullying event!

audience of parents and their kids in the 57-degree Ice Zone – an ice rink attached to the Mills and home of the St. Louis Blues practice facility.  Her recap of Megan’s Story was captivating. Many parents approached Tina with their kids afterwards to speak to her personally about their ordeal with bullying.

We were moved by the many many parents who also stopped by the CyberBully Hotine table who told us of their challenges with bullying. Their stories were all very similar…”my son/daughter is being bullied and the school is doing nothing about it.”  Parent after parent said this to us during the 2-hour event.  It made me think back to when I first watched the “Bully” movie and its scenes of inept school administrators doing nothing in the face of severe bullying.  I can only hope that these parents and their kids someday get the help they need to resolve their situations and I am thankful that SchoolReach is now playing a role to help students more easily report bullying.

 

Tips on How to Talk to Young People

By Paul Langhorst       July 30, 2012

Talking with young people these days can be a challenge, with the first obstacle getting them to look up from their smartphone and at you. Once that is accomplished, you had better be ready because the attention span and interest level of a young person these days is about the same length as a Higgs-boson particle– the so-called, “God particle,” a

Higgs boson event

Higgs-Boson Event

sub-atomic particle whose lifespan is so short its existence can only be inferred by observing the interaction of particles around it.(In other words, you can only tell if young person was listening by observing what they did as a result of your talk!)

At the Missouri Safe Schools & Colleges Conference, the Missouri Department of Mental Health gave a workshop that included a brief overview on how to communicate with young people. Here are the tips presented by Patsy Carter, Director of Children’s Clinical Services.

  • Be genuine
  • Be careful about using slang
  • Be comfortable with silence
  • Be adaptable
  • Be in the present – don’t talk about when you were a kid!
  • Be respectful, realize that young people’s feelings are real
  • Be accepting, rather than asking for an explanation or making accusations
  • Be aware of negative body language
  • Be helpful with language, without telling them how you feel.

Learn more on how to talk with young people, as well as, the warning signs for suicide and other mental health problems, by visiting the Missouri Dept. of Mental Health – (or the agency in your state.) You will be pleasantly surprised at the wealth of information.

 

School Resource Officers Support Annonymous Bullying Reporting Methods

By Paul Langhorst         July 27, 2012

Anonymous bully-reporting solutions, such as the CyberBully Hotline, are seen by the leadership of the Missouri School Resource Officer’s Association as a valuable and effective tool for combating bullying. This fact became evident when I attended the Missouri Safe Schools and Colleges Conference, held annually by the Missouri Center for Education Safety.  During a roundtable discussion with the incoming president, past SROs Support Anonymous Reportingpresident, and other members of the Missouri SRO Assoc, information was shared that supported the use of anonymous reporting systems to encourage and stimulate bullying reporting.

The roundtable discussion centered on bullying, cyberbullying and what role SRO’s play in bullying incident resolution.  “Bullying and drug use are the two most prevalent problems that SRO’s face,” said Trevor Fowler, incoming president.  “The two really go hand-in-hand. We see those engaged in drug use more likely to be engaged in bully or other inappropriate behavior, and their victims are also using drugs, perhaps as a way to escape their pain.”

Cyberbullying is also now seen as a much bigger issue than traditional physical or verbal bullying. “Mondays and the day after a holiday or long break are the worst days for an SRO, commented Les Martin, outgoing president.” Much of the cyberbullying and online attacks take place over the weekend and then we hear about it on Monday. We take all reports seriously, and with early intervention we are often able to stop things before they get out of control.” Les Martin is SRO for the Jefferson City, MO Public Schools, with enrollment of over 7,000 students.

Knowing about the bullying is a significant part of the solution. “We successfully resolve about 90% of the bullying cases that are brought to our attention, however we believe only about half of the bullying, cyberbullying and harassment ever gets reported,” commented Fowler. “The kids carry these problems around with them, and it can cause other problems such as absenteeism, poor school performance, drug use, and self-harm.”

The SRO readily sees how an anonymous bullying reporting solution fits into the bullying prevention equation.” A service like the CyberBully Hotline would be a tremendous asset to SRO’s,” said Martin.” Just knowing about the problem is half the battle, and many of these kids are fearful of coming forward. If the school offers an anonymous means to report bullying or bad behavior, it will open the door to faster resolution.”

It is not just bully victims, who might benefit from an anonymous reporting solution.” Bystanders, bus drivers, custodians and parents might also be prime users of the CyberBully Hotline,” said Fowler. “There are typically many people aware of what’s happening outside of the bully-victim circle, and often these individuals can be key to surfacing the problems and solving them.”  Martin added, “If bullies know that everyone around them can now anonymously report on them, we believe it will cause them to really stop and think about their actions.”

One thing was certain stemming from the roundtable discussion, the SRO officers fully understand the anonymous bullying-reporting solution, and see it as a valuable tool in the fight against bullying, cyberbullying, and all other forms of harassment.

Thank you to Trevor, Les and all those SRO’s who participated!

 

$100,000 Cyberbully Prevention & Response Grant Announced

By Paul Langhorst      July 17, 2012

The CyberBully Hotline team is pleased to announce the kick-off of a $100,000 bully prevention and response grant program designed to help low-income, high-poverty schools implement the CyberBully Hotline to provide students with improved means to report bullying.

We have heard from many schools and districts that are interested in implementing the CyberBully Hotline program, while the program costs just pennies per student per year, with tight budgets and finances many are looking for help in funding the program.

The CyberBully Hotline Grant Program is just one option to help with bully prevention and response funding. We encourage interested schools and districts to review the program and submit an application if you meet the main criteria – which is a High (31%-50%) or Very High (50%+) Free & Reduced Lunch federal classification. The application is posted online and can be found at http://www.cyberbullyhotline.com/grant-application.html.

Here are some additional ideas for bully prevention and response funding:

  • Utilization of federal “safe schools” funding
  • Commercial sponsorship – CyberBully Hotline materials can be imprinted with the name or logo of a commercial sponsor. Most schools and districts have a relationship with local psychological agency to which they refer parents and students – ask them for a sponsorship.
  • Local law enforcement agencies – we have seen instances where the local police department may have funds earmarked for bully prevention and awareness – ask your local police chief to get involved.
  • PTA/PTO & Student Fundraiser:
    • Create a “Pennies for Prevention” campaign and ask students to bring in their lose change for a week or two and you will easily cover the cost of the CyberBully Hotline.
    • Do Something About It” wristband campaign.  As part of your kick-off campaign hold a “bullying awareness day.”  You can order “Do Something About It.” wrist bands from the CyberBully Hotline. Add a small mark-up to the cost of the wristband to cover the cost of the CyberBully Hotline. For information on ordering, contact AJ Morgan at amorgan@schoolreach.com.

Where there is a will there is way as the saying goes. The CyberBully Hotline team is ready to help your school or district find the funds to help implement our program.