Half Of Teens Report Being Bullied In New Study [mtv.com, by Gil Kaufman, 26/10/2010]

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

If you’ve ever been taunted, teased, bullied or roughed up, these statistics will not surprise you. According to the largest study of its kind ever conducted, half of all high school students admit to bullying their peers and nearly as many say they were bullied during the past year.

The study from the Josephson Institute of Ethics comes amid a flurry of stories about the sometimes-fatal consequences of bullying, spurred by the recent suicides of a number of gay teens who took their lives after harassment about their sexuality.

“If the saying ‘sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never harm me’ was ever true, it certainly is not so today,” said Michael Josephson, founder and president of the institute, in a press release announcing the results. Josephson also pointed out the especially harsh nature of cyberbullying: “Insults, name calling, relentless teasing and malicious gossip often inflict deep and enduring pain. … It’s not only the prevalence of bullying behavior and victimization that’s troublesome. The Internet has intensified the injury. What’s posted on the Internet is permanent, and it spreads like a virus — there is no refuge. The difference between the impact of bullying today versus 20 years ago is the difference between getting into a fistfight and using a gun.”

Previous surveys by the institute did not take cyberbullying into account, but according to the report, which interviewed more than 43,000 high-schoolers ages 15 to 18, 50 percent admit they bullied someone in the past year, while 47 percent said they had been bullied, teased or taunted in a way that seriously upset them in that same time period.

The survey respondents, from 78 public and 22 private schools, revealed other troubling trends. Almost one-third (33 percent) said violence is a big problem at their school, and one in four (24 percent) said they don’t feel very safe at their school. What’s worse is that the violence does not appear to be constrained to just verbal taunts, as more than half (52 percent) said they’ve hit a person because they were angry in the past year, 10 percent said they took a weapon to school at least once in the past year. And 16 percent admitted to having been intoxicated at school.

“The combination of bullying, a penchant toward violence when one is angry, the availability of weapons and the possibility of intoxication at school increases significantly the likelihood of retaliatory violence,” Josephson said, referring parents to the Character Counts survey for information on what they can do to prevent bullying and for signs to recognize if bullying is taking place.

As stars and political figures from President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Adam Lambert and Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington speak out in the It Gets Better video series to encourage bullied teens to keep their heads up, and Brittany Snow continues to spread the word in conjunction with MTV’s Love Is Louder campaign, the Josephson survey revealed troubling details about stubbornly consistent violent teen tendencies.

In one question, 21 percent of respondents admitted to mistreating someone because he or she belonged to a different group. An even higher number (23 percent) said they are prejudiced against certain groups, and 42 percent said they have used racial insults. These figures were almost identical to numbers from a 2008 survey.

To spread a message of hope to victims of bullying and harassment, join MTV, Brittany Snow and the Jed Foundation in telling the world that Love Is Louder than hate. Visit the project’s Facebook page, upload videos to Your.MTV.com and use the hashtag #loveislouder on Twitter.

Efforts to help combat bullying [IrishExaminer.com, by Sean O’Riordan, 26/10/10]

AN escalation of child bullying, including cyber-bullying, has prompted the Social and Health Education Project (SHEP) in Cork to organise a course for parents.

The long-established Cork-based training organisation is offering an evening course to support parents and help them to help their children.

According to SHEP the escalation of bullying in both primary and secondary schools in recent years is compounded by the onset of cyber-bullying.

Statistics show that one in five second-year girls has been cyberbullied, and one in four has received threatening phone calls.

Although a recent EU survey found that in Ireland the percentage of children who had experienced cyber-bullying was amongst the lowest of the 23 countries polled, at 4%, the anecdotal evidence presents a very real concern to parents.

Kerri FitzGerald, training and development worker with SHEP, said the organisation runs courses for parents on a number of different issues.

“So we are well-placed to work with them on the issue of bullying. Discovering they are not alone with their problems and the power of working in a small group can bring great strength to people,” Ms FitzGerald said.

Bullying can have serious long-term effects both for those who are victims of bullying and for those who behave in a bullying manner.

SHEP’s course for parents is designed to help them become more aware of the issues involved in bullying, and more able to offer helpful support to their children. It also gives them the chance to explore what they can do to help lessen bullying in their community.

Any parents who would like to hear more about the course, which starts in early November, can contact The Social and Health Education Project on (021) 4666180.


Obama, Hillary Clinton Speak Out Against Anti-Gay Bullying [VOA News.Com by Steve Ember, 22/10/10]

President Obama speaks in support of the It Gets Better Project
President Obama speaks in support of the It Gets Better Project

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton each released video messages this week on the problem of bullying. Both messages centered on abusive behavior toward homosexuals.

BARACK OBAMA: “Like all of you, I was shocked and saddened by the deaths of several young people who were bullied and taunted for being gay, and who ultimately took their own lives.  As a parent of two daughters, it breaks my heart.  It’s something that just shouldn’t happen in this country. We’ve got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage — that it’s some inevitable part of growing up. It’s not.”

One recent victim was an eighteen-year old student at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Tyler Clementi was a first-year student and a promising musician. In late September he jumped to his death from a bridge over the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York. Three days earlier, his roommate had secretly used a webcam to broadcast live images of him in a sexual encounter with another man.


A candlelight vigil in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to remember Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who killed himself
A candlelight vigil in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to remember Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who killed himself

Law enforcement officials have charged the roommate and another student with invasion of privacy.

Last month, writer Dan Savage started the It Gets Better Project. The purpose is to help LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — young people. President Obama recorded his message to show support for that project.

BARACK OBAMA: “I don’t know what it’s like to be picked on for being gay. But I do know what it’s like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don’t belong. It’s tough. And for a lot of kids, the sense of being alone or apart — I know can just wear on you. And when you’re teased or bullied, it can seem like somehow you brought it on yourself — for being different, or for not fitting in with everybody else. But what I want to say is this. You are not alone.”

Secretary Clinton released her message earlier in the week.

HILLARY CLINTON: “Like millions of Americans, I was terribly saddened to learn of the recent suicides of several teenagers across our country after being bullied because they were gay or because people thought they were gay. Children are particularly vulnerable to the hurt caused by discrimination and prejudice and we have lost many young people over the years to suicide. These most recent deaths are a reminder that all Americans have to work harder to overcome bigotry and hatred.”


Hillary Clinton's video message
Hillary Clinton’s video message

She said opportunities will only increase:

HILLARY CLINTON: “Just think of the progress made by women just during my lifetime by women, or ethnic, racial and religious minorities over the course of our history — and by gays and lesbians, many of whom are now free to live their lives openly and proudly.”

The videos come as the government and the courts try to settle the future of the military policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Under federal law, gays and lesbians can serve, but not openly. No one may ask about a person’s sexual orientation. But service members can be discharged if they are found to be homosexual.

Congress and President Bill Clinton approved the law in nineteen ninety-three as a compromise. Now a federal judge in California has ruled it unconstitutional.

Last week she ordered a halt to all dismissals of gay service members. But on Wednesday an appeals court let the administration temporarily continue the policy.

President Obama says he wants to end the policy, but he wants Congress and not the courts to do it.

In July, the Defense Department e-mailed a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” opinion survey to four hundred thousand service members. Defense Secretary Robert Gates expects the results by December first.

New data on bullying: 17% report regular abuse [The Washington Post, by Valerie Strauss, 20/10/2010]

New data on bullying released today show that 17 percent of American students report being bullied two to three times a month or more within a school semester, with girls and boys having similar rates.

The information was gleaned from an anonymous survey of 524,054 U.S. students in grades 3 through 12, and it comes when bullying is in the news because of a series of suicides by young gays who had been bullied.

The survey was conducted by Dan Olweus (pronounced Ol-VEY-us), who is considered the founding father of research on bully/victim issues. It is being released by the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.

The program for elementary, junior high and middle schools that he created is aimed at preventing and/or reducing bullying and is designed to improve peer relations and make schools safer places. (You can find reports analyzing different bullying programs here.)

Researchers say that the approach, which involves every adult and student in the class and helps teach students how to safely not be bystanders when bullying occurs, has been shown to have the strongest and most long-lasting improvements.

The co-author of the analysis is Susan P. Limber. Here is some of the information released today:

Being bullied

  • 17 percent of students indicated that they had been bullied with some frequency (two to three times per month or more within the school semester).
  • There were similar rates for girls (16 percent) and boys (17 percent).
  • Bullying is most prevelant in third grade, when almost 25 percent of students reported being bullied two, three or more times a month. The rate slowly declines each year through 12th grade, when about 12 percent of boys and less than 10 percent of girls reported being bullied.Bullying others
  • 10 percent of students indicated they had bullied others with some frequency (two to three times per month or more within the semester).
  • Boys (12 percent) were more likely than girls (7 percent) to indicate they had bullied others.How long has the bullying lasted?
  • For students who have been bullied, significant numbers reported being bullied for long periods:
  • 16 percent of girls boys reported having been bullied for about a year.
  • 23 percent of girls and 30 percent of boys said they had been bullied for several years.
  • Bystander behavior
  • When asked what they feel when they see a student their age being bullied, the vast majority of students (83 percent) indicated that they feel sorry for the bullied student (90 percent of girls, 75 percent of boys).
  • Students were asked, “How do you usually react if you see or learn that a student your age is being bullied?” and had the following responses:

    I have never noticed that students my age have been bullied.
    Girls: 24 percent. Boys: 30 percent.

    I take part in the bullying.
    Girls: 1 percent. Boys: 3 percent.

    I don’t do anything but think it is OK.
    Girls: 1 percent. Boys: 2 percent.

    I just watch what goes on.
    Girls: 9 percent. Boys: 14 percent.

    I don’t do anything, but I think I ought to help the bullied students.
    Girls: 30 percent. Boys: 22 percent.

    I try to help the bullied student.
    Girls: 35 percent. Boys: 29 percent.

    More than 40 states have some sort of law that makes bullying illegal, yet, as the statistics show, the harassment of young kids by their classmates remains common.

    Clearly laws alone can’t get the job done. Parents have to be involved, and so do schools.

    A school-wide assembly to discuss bullying won’t work. Schools that are serious about reducing bullying implement programs that involve every adult in the school, from the principal to the janitors, and spend time once a week engaging students in discussion and activities to understand the problem and learn how to deal with it.

    This is not a topic that we hear our education leaders talk about very much, except when someone dies.

    If we want kids to feel safe enough in schools to do well academically, bullying is a topic that should no longer be ignored.


Obama: People Are Born Gay, Must Fight Back Against Cyberbullying [Time.Com, by Christina Crapanzano, 18/10/2010]


At a youth town hall event Thursday sponsored by MTV, BET and CMT, some 10,000 questions were tweeted President Obama’s way, most of them concerning education, economy, and LGBT issues. The most dramatic message of the day: “Dear President Obama, do you think being gay or trans is a choice?”(via The Page)

Obama hedged his response saying, “I don’t profess to be an expert,” but “I don’t think it’s a choice. I think that people are born with a certain makeup, and that we’re all children of God. We don’t make determinations about who we love. And that’s why I think that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong.” (Even animals make same-sex overtures.)

Earlier, the president vowed the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy “will end and it will end on my watch.”

Throughout the hour-long event, Obama also heard from audience members – several of whom drew on personal experiences when asking their questions. In response to one college-student’s experience with Internet harassment and the recent suicide of a gay Rutgers University student, the president said, “We’ve got zero tolerance when it comes to sexual harassment, we have zero tolerance when it comes to harassing people because of their sexual orientation, because of their race, because of their ethnicity.” (See video of Gay Days at Disney World.)

Obama offered audience members the same guidance he says he gives his daughters: “If somebody is different from you, that’s not something you criticize, that’s something that you appreciate.”

Scots teachers call for legal clampdown on Facebook as schools see rise in cyberbullying [Herald Scotland, Investigation by Rachel Money, 17/10/2010]]

Scottish teachers want a legal showdown with Facebook in a bid to make social networking sites accountable for abusive and intimidating comments posted online by school children.


The Education Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country’s biggest teaching union, says it receives between 50 and 60 complaints a year from teachers who have been cyberbullied, harassed and threatened online by their students.

Drew Morrice, EIS Assistant Secretary, said new laws are needed to bring websites more into line with newspapers and broadcasters which are subject to defamation and libel legislation.

He claimed most social networking sites such as Facebook “have published derogatory material and in some cases it does a lot of emotional damage”.

“We need a change in the law to make liability rest with the site holders,” he said.

Teachers have become “fair game” for malicious comment online, Morrice said, adding that there was “no reason for these social media sites to get legal immunity”. At the moment, social media websites and their owners cannot be prosecuted for insults and threats made by users.

The EIS has commissioned new research which will look at the extent of cyberbullying and harassment of teachers and lecturers for the first time.

In new legislation passed under the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, which will come into force shortly, police are to be given more powers to charge those who have harassed people using emails, text messages and social networking sites. The EIS said it will support any teacher who wishes to pursue a criminal complaint under the new laws.

Schoolteacher Jennifer, who asked for her identity to be withheld, discovered three of her teenage pupils had posted abusive comments on a website, stating they wanted to punch, stab and burn her. Two of the students have now been charged with breach of the peace.

Jennifer told the Sunday Herald: “I know these girls may end up with a criminal record and I have been torn about what to do, but I feel like I have given so much of my effort and energy into these girls and for them to turn around and do what they did is wrong.”

Brian Donnelly, Director of RespectMe, Scotland’s anti-bullying service, said: “We need to educate young people on how to use the internet and to think about what they say online and where the boundaries are.”

Dr Alistair Duff, an information technology lecturer at Edinburgh’s Napier University, described cyberspace as the “Wild West” as it is as yet untamed by law or social boundaries.

A Facebook spokeswoman said: “There is no place for cyberbullying on Facebook and we respond aggressively to reports of potential abuse. Reports involving harassment are prioritised, with most reviewed within 24 hours.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson described cyberbullying as a “deeply frightening crime” and promised that “perpetrators who engage in this criminal activity [will be] brought to justice.

“When implemented, the new stalking offence in the Criminal Justice & Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 will give victims … greater legal protection, whilst ensuring prosecutors have the full range of powers available to them to bring a conviction.”



‘There were even death threats on there, like how they wanted to stab me and shoot me in the face’


Next month Jennifer, a secondary schoolteacher for more than 15 years, will step into court to see two of her students face criminal charges after posting what she describes as “vile” comments about her online.

Still visibly upset, she describes how the “ordeal”, began: “I was in the classroom with fifth-year pupils and I could sense an atmosphere in the room, girls giggling and whispering every time I had my back turned. I had a hunch something was happening online. I Googled one of the girls’ names and up came a Bebo page which was public. Within a few clicks I was reading a conversation between three of my pupils and there was a photograph of me they had taken without my knowledge in a classroom.

“The comments were pornographic, calling me names and saying what they’d like to do to me, very derogatory about me personally, calling me the ‘c-word’ all the time. I felt like I’d been sexually abused. I felt so violated. There were even death threats on there, like how they wanted to stab me and shoot me in the face.

“My first instinct was to go to the principal. At first he said he couldn’t do anything because this happened outside of school, but eventually the campus police officer spoke to the girls and that’s when one of them apologised. The officer asked me if I wanted to press charges on the two who didn’t apologise and I said ‘yes’.

“When police got involved, one of the girls’ fathers said he agreed with all his daughter had written about me. This is what you’re up against. The stress is ridiculous. I ended up in A&E after I collapsed at school. They told me I’d had a severe anxiety attack. I can’t sleep because I’m worried about the court case. It’s horrendous.

“Teenagers seem to think they can write whatever they like about people and there’s no consequence. I can see this could explode and get worse for teachers if something isn’t done now.

“Parents are often concerned about their child being bullied or targeted by paedophiles but do they check on what they’re writing on Bebo about others?”

The girls face breach of the peace charges.

Bebo did not respond to the Sunday Herald’s request for a comment on this story.

7 Year-Old Girl with Huntington’s Disease Victim of Cyber-Bullying [emaxhealth.com, by Ramona Bates, 12/10/2010].

A 7 year-old girl with Huntington’s Disease is the victim of an extreme case of cyber-bullying.

The young girl, Kathleen Edward, lives in Trenton, Michigan. Her mother, Laura Edward, died of Huntington’s disease last year.

The cyber-bullying has come from her neighbors. MLive.com reports Jennifer Petkov, 33, admitted on camera Thursday night that she used her Facebook account to post disturbing death-related images of Kathleen Edward and her late mother.

Neighbors say the Petkovs built a coffin, put it on their truck and drove past the Edward home, honking the horn.

Cyber-bullying involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.

When asked by a reporter from Detroit television station WJBK why she posted the photos, Jennifer Petkov said without apology, “Personal satisfaction. Because it rubs their a—s raw. Burns their a—s.”

The news of the cyber-bullying has gone viral with backlash from people from around the world posting Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages of their own attacking Jennifer Petkov. The Petkovs have apologized to the Edward family.

Adults who are bullies lash out at others for the same reason children who are bullies do. Often out of anger, resentment and jealousy. Bullies often lack poor conflict resolution skills, a lack of moral development and the desire to bully.

Click here for information on an Oct. 23 rally supporters are organizing on Kathleen’s behalf.

Huntington’s disease is an inherited, progressive, degenerative disease that causes certain nerve cells in your brain to waste away. As a result, you may experience uncontrolled movements, emotional disturbances and mental deterioration. Most often, signs and symptoms of the disease develop in middle age not in children. When they do occur in children, the disease is more severe and progresses more quickly.

Here’s some links to information to help you prevent this from occurring in your kids – and yourselves:
Stop Cyberbullying Network