Awesome Upstander: First Anti-Bullying Mobile Game for Kids – Dr. Susan Lipkins, Child Pyschologist This is one of four video’s giving parents tools to use for anti-bullying. Please view all four video’s.
Creating a Caring Community Classroom LeadershipOctober 2003 | Volume 7 | Number 2 Building Classroom Relationships One School’s Plan to Ban Bullying by Karen Siris Two boys, perspiring and smudged with playtime dirt, approach the main office of their elementary school. Seeming right at home, they rush past the secretary’s desk, making a beeline to […]
In wake of Phoebe Prince case in Massachusetts, families across U.S. fear bullies preying on kids
March 30, 2010 / nydailynews.com / Gina Salamone & Nicole Lyn Pesce with additional reporting by Nicole Carter and Sherryl Connelly
Nearly two months after Jazmin Lovings’ kindergarten classmates beat her and cut her hair, the frightened 5-year-old has yet to return to her Brooklyn school.
"She’s still traumatized," says Jazmin’s grandmother, Rebecca Lovings. "She’s not sleeping well at night."
The terrified tot doesn’t want to go back to PS 161 in Crown Heights, where the alleged attacks occurred.
Her grandmother says the Department of Education has done nothing to punish the bullies and isn’t providing good options for a transfer school.
The suicide of 15-year-old Massachusetts student Phoebe Prince brought school bullying to international attention this week, as nine teens were indicted Monday for allegedly driving the pretty Irish immigrant to hang herself on Jan. 14.
New York schools don’t seem to be faring much better. A national watchdog group has flunked the state with an F on bullying laws, and several high-profile incidents around the city in recent months have left local families terrified.
"The bullying culture is increasing at warp speed," says Long Island psychologist Susan Lipkins, who specializes in school violence. "Bullying and cyber-bullying are becoming more violent and more sexualized every day."
West Islip parents Ed and Cathy Bell say their teenage daughter, Mary Kate, was the victim of repeated cyberbullying. In October, a 15-year-old classmate bashed her face into the pavement.
"She spent three days in the hospital and has had to have reconstructive surgery," says Ed Bell. "She could have been killed. And the thing that gets to me is this girl used to sleep over at our house."
The conflict began over an incident on Facebook. A week before the attack, her parents say the girl punched Mary Kate in the face at school. And while school officials knew about the incident, say the Bells, they decided not to enforce the school’s policy of suspending all parties involved in fights.
"They decided that it wasn’t fair to suspend Mary Kate since she was a victim, but that meant that, under the rule, the girl didn’t get suspended either," says Bell. Though the Bells have an order of protection against the teen, Mary Kate still sees her bully every day in school.
For Mary Kate, bullying that started online quickly moved into real life. A Department of Justice study released earlier this month found that cyberbullying is at an all-time high, with more than 43% of teenagers reporting being victims of bullying by phone or Internet.
"Cyberbullying has radically increased because the technology makes it so much easier," says Parry Aftab, an Internet lawyer and privacy and security expert. "So we have all these kids walking around with cell phones in their pockets, backpacks and purses, and hand-held gaming devices that 6- to 8-year olds are carrying that are Internet-capable.
"Kids aren’t famous for impulse control, anyway, and with the powerful technology that is now always available, it’s a dangerous combination."
Last week, another West Islip teen, Alexis Pilkington, took her life after she was taunted on social networking sites. Cops are looking into whether the cyberbullying contributed to the 17-year-old soccer star’s suicide, and the cruel taunts continued even after her death.
Pilkington’s parents have downplayed cyberbullying as a main cause of her death, but her friends blame insulting comments posted on Formspring.me, and vowed to boycott the social-network site.
They’ve also complained to the world’s biggest such site, Facebook.com, after someone posted Pilkington’s cell phone number and a nasty comment on a tribute page set up in her memory.
New York City has an anti-bullying regulation in place — a 2008 school chancellor’s regulation — but critics say it isn’t strong enough.
It lays out the procedure for filing, investigating and resolving complaints of student-to-student, bias-based harassment and intimidation.
"Bullying behavior, slurs, verbal harassment and physical violence have no place in our schools, especially when such behavior is prompted by prejudice, intolerance or fear of difference," says DOE spokeswoman Marge Feinberg. "Over the past few years, we have taken strong steps to reduce bullying and harassment in our schools."
She says that every school has a designated staff member to whom students can report incidents.
But that’s no consolation to little Jazmin’s grandmother. Lovings says that the child’s tormentors have yet to be punished for the Feb. 5 incident, which left her missing a clump of hair.
Jazmin came home from school that day and said another child had cut off her braid with a pair of scissors.
"It’s horrible," says Lovings. The school system, she said, "is not doing enough. They’re not even trying to seek out who’s doing the bullying. They act like she did it to herself — cutting her hair — which I know she didn’t because she can’t reach in the back and cut her hair that close to her scalp."
What’s worse is that there were warning signs that apparently went ignored. According to the Lovings family, Jazmin’s earrings were stolen in October and she was kicked repeatedly by three boys. She was hit in the face and had her lunch knocked to the floor the next month.
"They had a blind eye," says Lovings.
She’d like to see Jazmin transferred to another school, but says the Department of Education is trying to switch her to other schools plagued with violence.
"We didn’t want to send her there," Lovings says of those schools.
In the meantime, Jazmin is missing out on an education.
"She’s afraid to even go in the school," says Lovings. "When you mention school, her eyes are big and watery like she’s ready to cry."
Many people think that bullies are either insecure or have low self-esteem. Recent research shows that some bullies may fit this description, but many bullies have high self-esteem. The bully leads via intimidation. People follow to avoid being victimized.