Bullying At School Linked To Violence At Home [ Medicalnewstoday.com, by Christian Nordqvist, 24/4/2011]

Bullies and those being bullied are more likely to be experiencing family violence at home, a new report issued by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and prepared together with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has found. The researchers found that among middle and high school pupils across the state, encounters of family violence were more common among young people who had both taken part in bullying and been victims of it.

Since the two suicides in 2009 – Phoebe Prince, 15, in South Hadley, and Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, in Springfield – bullying has been a big theme in Massachusetts, leading to anti-bullying laws in 2010 which ban bullying both online and in schools. Since the new legislation, schools have had to develop bullying intervention and prevention policies.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) report explains that a growing body of evidence has been linking family violence with bullying. The authors write that they gathered and analyzed data from the Massachusetts Youth Health Survey (2009), an anonymous, paper and pencil survey carried out every 24 months.

There are considerable differences in risk factors contributing to individuals involved in varying categories of bullying, compared to those who have never been active bullies or victims of it.

The AORs (adjusted odds ratios) for middle school pupils for being physically hurt by a member of the family were:

      • 2.9 for victims
      • 4.4 for bullies
      • 5 for bully victims

For being witnesses of family violence the AORs were:

  • 2.6 for victims
  • 2.9 for bullies
  • 3.9 for bully victims

The authors say adjustments were made for factors which might alter the figures, such as the individuals age, sex, race and ethnicity.

The AORs for high school pupils for witnessing violence in the family were:

      • 2.8 for victims
      • 3.8 for bullies
      • 5.4 for bully victims

For being witnesses of family violence the AORs were:

  • 2.3 for victims
  • 2.7 for bullies
  • 6.8 for bully victims

In order to develop effective bullying intervention and prevention strategies, the authors say schools and health departments are finding that it is vital to include involvements in families.

The Massachusetts Youth Health Survey defines bullying as being “repeatedly teased, threatened, hit, kicked, or excluded by another student or group of students.”

In the Massachusetts Youth Health Survey, which involves hundreds of schools in the state, pupils were asked two questions (among many):

  • Over the last year, how often have you been bullied at school?
    They could answer from 0 to at least 12 times.
    Pupils who said they had been bullied at least once were categorized as victims.
  • “Did you do any of the following over the last year? a) Bully or push someone around, and b) Initiate or start a physical fight with someone.
    This second question was asked immediately after the student answered the first.
    Students answered with a simple yes or no to both questions. An individual who answered yes to question “a” was categorized as a bully. Those who answered yes to question “b” were not classed as bullies because there was not enough deter to determine.

The researchers gathered the data they received from the two bullying questions and created four categories:

  • Bullies – those who had bullied, but had not been bullied
  • Victims – those who had been bullied, but had not bullied
  • Bully-victims – those who had bullied and had also been bullied
  • Neither – those who had neither been bullied nor bullied

Below are some highlighted results from this study:

  • Victims of bullying – 26.8% of middle school and 15.6% of high school students
  • Victims – 7.5%% of middle school and 8.4% of high school students
  • Bully victims – 9.6% of middle school and 6.5% of high school students. There was no significant difference between male and female rates.
  • Neither – 50.6% of middle school and 69.5% of high school students.
  • Males bullies – 9.9% of middle school and 12.1% of high school students
  • Female bullies – 5% of middle school and 4.8% of high school students
  • Male victims – 24.1% of middle school and 13.3% of high school students
  • Female victims – 29.8% of middle school and 17.8% of high school students

A higher percentage of bully-victims were exposed to violent family encounters compared to bullies.

The authors wrote that those associated with bullying are more likely to be involved in substance abuse, attempt or consider suicide, and have poor academic grades.

It was clear that bullies and their victims were much more likely to be physically hurt by a member of the family, or witness family violence compared to those who claimed they had never been bullied.

The authors wrote:

“A comprehensive approach that encompasses school officials, students and their families is needed to prevent bullying among middle school and high school students.”

“Bullying Among Middle School and High School Students – Massachusetts, 2009”
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) April 22, 2011 / 60(15);465-471

Bullying: Complex Social Problem That Hits Parents Hard [ livescience.com, by Stephanie Pappas, 22/4/2011].

Parents of bullied children want to be there for their kids, but a child's victimization can leave moms and dads feeling lost as well. Credit: © Ejwhite | Dreamstime.com
Parents of bullied children want to be there for their kids, but a child’s victimization can leave moms and dads feeling lost as well.
Credit: © Ejwhite | Dreamstime.com

One evening two weeks ago, Nancy Anderson Dolan’s 13-year-old son opened his laptop and yelled like he’d been struck. Dolan rushed to his side and saw what had appalled her child: An expletive-filled message from a child her son has known for years, threatening to hurt him.

Moments later, her son’s phone lit up with text messages from another child: More threats, more cruel insults.

“It was an odd experience, like kind of a home invasion, actually, because it was just so sudden and unexpected,” Dolan, a counselor in Calgary, Alberta, told LiveScience. “It was freakish. You just couldn’t wrap your mind around something like this happening.”

Even now, after involving her son’s school and helping him recover from the cyberbullying incident, Dolan finds herself on edge.

“We are having a pretty optimal response, but still that sense of not being able to keep my child safe is so pervasive,” she said. “It strips away any facade you might have that you think you are able to protect your children.”

Most research on bullying has focused on its effect on children, for the good reason that children bear the brunt of the suffering. But parent reports suggest that Dolan’s emotional reaction isn’t unusual. When a kid is bullied, many parents say they feel angry, frustrated and helpless. Their relationships with other adults in the community may crack as parents choose sides. In some cases, bullying strains the whole family, making it harder for parents to help end their child’s torment. [The History of Human Aggression]

“What I always encourage parents to do is to have a measured, calm approach to the situation,” Susan Swearer, a bullying expert and psychologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told LiveScience. “That’s difficult to do, because it’s upsetting, obviously, when your son or daughter comes home and they’re upset.”

Fear and worry

Parental worries over bullying were in the national spotlight recently, with a “Good Morning America” feature on 7-year-old Samantha Shaw, who got cosmetic surgery to correct a minor ear deformity — largely, Shaw’s mother Cami Roselle told GMA, to prevent her daughter from being bullied.

“I don’t want her to be teased and bullied and then have her lash out and treat people the way she’s being treated,” Roselle said.

Kids do bully each other because of perceived differences, Swearer said, ranging from clothes to body shape to intelligence. But body modification may not protect kids from being taunted, she said. [Facts About Your Teen’s Brain]

“The fact is, we are all different in some way from each other. That’s one thing that makes humans so interesting,” Swearer said. “Since kids bully others for a variety of reasons, I suspect that having plastic surgery will not stop the bullying.”

A bully’s choice of victims can come out of nowhere for parents. For Dolan, the bullying incident shook her perception of her tight community and her son’s small private school. It saddened her younger son, who had previously looked up to one of the boys who’d sent the messages. And it raised the specter of her child getting physically harmed, either by the children who’d threatened him or by his own hand.

“A teacher who is a client came in that week and talked about a student of hers who committed suicide from bullying,” Dolan said. “It really impacted me to have that come up during the same time.”

Marie Newman, a business consultant from suburban Chicago, felt similar fears when her middle-school-age son became a bullying target. Despite attempts to intervene with the school, the bullying went on for a year and a half. Eventually, Newman told LiveScience, the bullying went viral across the school, and her son became a pariah.

“In the news every day, a poor, poor child is committing suicide over this, and you’re thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, will it get to that point?'” Newman said.

The bullying brought out a series of emotions, said Newman, who later co-authored a book on coping with bullying, “When Your Child is Being Bullied: Real Solutions for Families” (Vivisphere, 2011). At first, she was incredulous that her child could be the brunt of such cruelty. Then she became outraged, frustrated — and worried.

“During the day, I’d be sitting in a meeting with a client, and I’d be thinking, ‘Who is doing what to him now?'” she said.

In the end, Newman and her husband sent her son to another school, where she says he is thriving. The rifts between their family and others in the community have also pushed the family to make a long-discussed decision to move to another Chicago suburb.

“Everybody needs a fresh start,” Newman said. “You become so negative and anxious.”

How to deal

That anxiety can intensify when parents run up against unresponsive schools. Eric Bergman, a communication consultant in suburban Toronto, said he was disgusted when another girl at his daughter’s middle school started psychologically bullying her with rumors and whisper campaigns. The middle school shut the bullying down, Bergman told LiveScience. But when both girls moved on to high school, the bullying became physical — and neither the school administration nor the local police would take action, Bergman said.

“It went from disgust to fear,” he said. “And an utter feeling of helplessness, impotence. It was very scary.”

While it can be hard to cope with the emotions bullying brings, Swearer encourages parents to focus on solutions for their child.

“Going in angry and yelling and screaming, which I have seen, does not help anybody,” Swearer said. “Everybody just gets defensive.”

Parents should realize that bullying is a complex social problem, and the situation may have been developing for some time, she said.

Parents can take steps to protect their children before bullying starts, said Rene Hackney, a school and developmental psychologist for Parenting Playgroups, which offers parent workshops in Alexandria, Va. Bullies often target kids who don’t stand up for themselves, Hackney told LiveScience, so parents can teach their kids early how to express their emotions and assert themselves in social situations.

For example, parents might try reading a book such as “The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Teasing” (Random House, 1995) to their children, Hackney said.

“The idea is to read through and really talk about the characters in the story, ask if [the child] has ever felt that way,” Hackney said.

Making sure the child has a wide range of play dates with different peer groups can also prevent bullying, Hackney said, because the more social connections a child has, the less likely they are to get picked on. In middle and high school, the focus shifts to making sure tweens and teens know they should report bullying when they see it.

“If bystanders just watch, it gives power to that aggressive child,” Hackney said. “To curb the social aggression in the middle and high school years, it really takes the whole community.”

If a child does report bullying, Hackney said, parents should take it seriously.

“Don’t think of it as, ‘They’re always telling,'” she said. “You want to think, ‘They’re finally telling’ … Once they do come to you, they’ve often been picked on for weeks.”

No matter how upsetting that news, both Hackney and Swearer emphasize the need to stay collected for the child’s sake.

“Generally, it’s important to remain calm, collect the facts, remember there are two sides to every story and then go in with a solution-oriented, problem-solving approach,” Swearer said. “How parents react to the bullying can make it worse or make it better.”

You can follow LiveSciencesenior writer Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescienceand on Facebook.

Bullying Impacts Us All [ wentzvillepatch, by Joe Smith, 22/4/2011].

I still remember the fear I felt. I remember my heart rate rising as the adrenaline pumped through my veins. I can still hear his laugh as he choked me with my own hoodie (not to the point of not breathing- just enough to humiliate me). I remember the look of the other guys at my lunch table. Everyone one of them had found something really interesting on their lunch trays because they couldn’t take their eyes off of whatever is it was.

I couldn’t blame them. This guy was much bigger and much meaner than any of us.

This boy was constant. My entire sixth grade year was ruined because this kid wouldn’t let up. No matter what I did, he never stopped.

I still remember the shame I felt. I can still feel my checks burning as wave after wave of embarrassment slammed into me. I remember standing in the gym, in line at lunch, and in the hallways as kids made fun of what I was wearing.

You see, my dad’s roofing business closed just before I went into middle school. As he waited for other job opportunities; money was tight. There wasn’t much for clothing and none for name brand shoes. I wore whatever shoes we could afford.

I’m not complaining. I was well taken care of. I never needed for anything. But kids can be cruel. So when they saw some letters and numbers on my shoes that weren’t like the other kids, they came on like vultures.

I can recall talking with one young woman; we’ll call her Sally. I had another student come to me with a rumor about Sally. I knew Sally and her family well, and knew this rumor to be completely untrue. I also knew that if Sally heard it at school- it would devastate her. I quickly said a prayer as I dialed her number.

Sally answered the phone and I began to let her know what I had heard. I tried to reassure her that I knew it to be untrue and that everyone else would as well. She said that she would take care of it and thanks for calling. I immediately contacted her parents as well.

After an hour or so, I went to see Sally and her family. I could tell that she had been crying and crying hard. No words of comfort could help. She was destroyed. This rumor attacked who she was, it attacked all she tried to be.

I remember one young man; we’ll call him Johnny. Johnny was a young man with the sweetest disposition who happened to have a mental handicap. He was loving and very kind and never judged people by what they looked like or what they wore. All of which are truly strengths but never fail to be recognized as weaknesses.

Certain kids in his class saw them as a weakness and pounced. He was in math class. He was standing next to his desk; humming a tune to himself. The next moment he was writhing on the floor howling in pain. One of the bullies in his class had walked up and punched him with everything he had. Johnny didn’t stand a chance. He crumpled to the floor and rolled around for several moments before other students helped him up.

I’ll never forget the sound of his cry.

I remember my little brother in sixth grade. He rode the bus home every day. There was an eighth grade boy we’ll call him Homer (yes I’m poking fun). Homer decided that one day he was going to start calling my brother “Elliot” from E.T. My brother looks nothing like this character, so at first he just ignored it. But every day; there was Homer, ready to start chanting “Elliot! Elliot!  Elliot!” For weeks this taunting continued until my brother finally came to us.

I was in high school at the time and I knew Homer. So I rode the bus for days waiting to have a talk with him. After our talk (and yes, that’s all it was) he never said another word to my brother.

This past week two girls in Minnesota committed suicide by hanging themselves, because they felt like outcasts in their middle school. They were bullied. One of the girls even left a note detailing her funeral.

Do you need more examples? This week was the 12th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.

Another — Two weeks ago a Winfield teenager was arrested for plotting another Columbine “attack” on his school.

Need more? Turn on this evening’s local or national news.

According to education.com, 160,000 students miss school every day for fear of being bullied. Fifty suicides a year are linked to prolonged bullying and approximately 85 percent of all school shootings have revenge against bullies as a major motive.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can do something about it. But it starts with us; the parents. If we aren’t shepherding our children then someone will. And the people they become will be out of our control.

So I asked parents what their greatest fear was when it came to bullying. The answer varied slightly, but it boiled down to two basic fears:

  • That my son/daughter is being bullied. They don’t talk to me about it and something bad happens.
  • That my son/daughter is the bully.

So as parents what do we do to ensure that our children communicate with us and/or that they don’t become the bully? Well, seeing how this issue isn’t new to this generation I have been afforded the opportunity to work with some amazing parents over the last decade. They have taught my wife and I some awesome tips on this very topic and I would like to share those with you.

Let’s address the fear of our students being bullied first. Here is what my wife and I have learned:

  • Communicate. Create an environment at home where honest communication can take place. Whether it be the dinner table, the living room or in the car, there should be someplace and time where your student feels free to discuss what matters most in their lives without the fear of being lectured or judged. Students are learning as they go and need a place to openly discuss what’s happening. It may take you asking open ended questions. It’s not a quick process. It’s going to take time to build that relationship, so the earlier you start, the better! If you build that bridge before something happens, they will most likely involve you after something happens.
  • Love, love, love! Never let your child doubt your love and devotion to them. They need be aware of the fact that they can never lose that love and acceptance from you. You are their shepherds- guiding, protecting, and leading them to adulthood. No matter what a student says to their parent, they need and crave that love from them.
  • Allow them to participate in the solution. So often, our first reaction is to take care of the problem. But that can complicate the issue. Part of adolescence is learning to deal with aggressive and confrontational people. If at all possible, partner with your child to just that. If they aren’t in physical or emotional danger; allow them to handle it with your supervision. Give them the tools to handle situations and then let them do that.
  • Be the bad guy. There are times when no matter what you do, your child can’t handle what’s taking place. It’s time for you to handle the situation. Sometimes doing the right thing will make your son or daughter not like you very much. We parents can’t be concerned with our children liking us or not. Sometimes we have to take care of them, even if they don’t understand that right now. Be loving, but be ready to wear the black hat.

As a middle school student who was bullied, my home was a safe haven. It was an oasis. On days where I was really picked on, I looked forward to walking in my front door and being greeted by my parents, my brother, my dog and ready to play with my neighborhood friends. I can remember sitting in my room talking with my parents about what was happening and the support that I got. I never felt pressured or threatened to tell or act a certain way. I just knew that no matter what happened anywhere else, that I was loved at home. Honestly, it made all the difference.

But how do we help our children see what bullying can do to others? How do we instill the values in our kids that will guide them to respect others? Here are a few suggestions to help you along the way:

  • Empathy. The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. The ability to take yourself out of your situation and relate to a person in a different situation. If we put our children in a postion to learn empathy, it will be much more difficult for them to bully other kids. Do this by putting them in a place of service. Feed the homeless, ring a bell, collect food goods, mow a yard — whatever it is they will see that people are just people; that their station in life doesn’t determine their worth. Empathy teaches that we don’t ridicule based on poverty, race, creed, religion or sexual orientation. Empathy teaches our students a better way.
  • Model it! If you are modeling confrontational behavior (think about how you act when driving) then most likely your children will mimic that behavior. On the other hand, chances are that your children won’t be aggressive if you model servant leadership and kindness. If you teach them about putting others first, and more importantly if you live it; they will too. It all boils down to monkey see, monkey do.
  • Teach them what bullying is. Your kids may not understand what bullying truly is. Be honest and let them know what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t. Tell them where you stand and what your family’s values are on the subject. You would be surprised at how many students aren’t clear on what bullying is.
  • Be invested. Over the years I’ve heard teens talk about their friends’ parents who let them do anything they want. Most often these teens live troubled lives. Their parents either don’t care or don’t know how to show they care. Make sure you know what’s taking place in your students’ life. Make sure you know where they are going, who they’re with and what they’re doing. Your teens may not like you digging, but it shows them that you do care. And just between you and me; I’ve had more than one teen tell me that they want their parents to tell them no.

The point is, bullying isn’t about statistics. It is about people. Young  people. People trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in this world. If we as friends, brothers, sisters, and parents don’t fight for these children; who will?

Teachers worried as girls go top of the class for cyber-bullying [The Independent, by Richard Garner, 18/4/2011]

Teachers will today call for an investigation into rising levels of poor behaviour among girls in the classroom.

The girls, they argue, are more likely to resort to cyber-bullying – the form of bullying utilising the internet and mobile phones that is worrying school leaders.

A survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) reveals that half the teachers believed girls’ behaviour had got worse during the past two years. One in five thought it was now more challenging than boys.

Teachers interviewed for the survey accused girls of being “sneakier” than boys in the way they misbehaved.

They were also more adept at using modern social media such as Facebook to bully their fellow pupils.

The survey of 859 teachers in both primary and secondary schools and further education colleges said girls’ misbehaviour centred around isolating fellow pupils from a friendship group, spreading rumours and making snide comments.

“Girls spread rumours and fallouts last a long time,” a 34-year-old teacher from Reading told researchers. “Boys tend to sort it out fairly quickly.”

Another teacher drew attention to a rise in the use of social media to bully pupils. “There is a lot of cyber bullying particularly via MSN and Facebook – this is mainly girls,” said the teacher, who is a member of the senior management team of an English secondary school.

The finding follows a one-day strike by teachers at a high school in Lancashire – Darwen High School – earlier this month over pupil behaviour.

Teachers complained that pupils were making videos and taking photographs in class with their smartphones and then posting them on websites such as YouTube.

The teachers were particularly unhappy that senior management did not back them up when they confiscated pupils’ phones.

Today’s motion at the ATL conference calls for more support for teachers in instilling discipline.

One teacher from Weston-super-Mare told researchers that girls were also becoming more violent. “Girls are definitely getting more violent with gangs of girls in school who are getting worse than gangs of boys,”she said.

However, a primary school teacher from Bedfordshire added: “Boys are generally more physical and their behaviour is more noticeable.

“Girls are often sneakier about misbehaving, they often say nasty things which end up disrupting the lesson just as much as the boys as other children get upset and can’t focus on their work.”

The teacher added. “They [the girls] are usually the ones who refuse to comply with instructions.”

The feeling was, though – despite rising levels of aggressive behaviour among girls – that boys were still more likely to show physical aggression. “Staff get ground down daily by the chatting and messing around, which disrupts lessons for other pupils and takes the pleasure out of teaching,” said Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL.

“Even more worrying is the physical aggression – most often among boys but also among some girls – which puts other pupils and staff at risk.”

The union’s annual conference in Liverpool will today hear calls to carry out an investigation into the number of girls being excluded from school. Delegates will be told it is an increasing problem.

Sexting: How to Talk to Your Kids [ wentzvillepatch.com, by Joe Smith, 15/4/2011]

I was late to the digital revolution. I resisted as long as I could. But as the famous movie quote goes, “Resistance is futile.”

As soon as I started Facebook, my eyes were opened to the wonders of social media. And don’t get me started on Twitter–I LOVE Twitter! I’m able to connect with so many people from all over the globe. The amount of information at my fingertips is staggering. The chance to reconnect with old high school friends has been fantastic. I really do love all this technology and how it’s increased my ability to connect and communicate with people.

But like anything, there are those who push the line and the envelope. With this influx of technology, there are dangers lurking for us and our kids. This week, we’ll look at sexting.”

What is sexting?

Sexting is a new reality in youth culture. It occurs when a person takes a sexually revealing photo of themselves and send it to other people. It can also involve sending sexually explicit texts to others.

This is a problem that is more prevalent than you might think. According to surveys done by CosmoGirl and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen an Unplanned Pregnancy, 2009:

  • Twenty-two percent of teen girls and 20 percent of teen boys have sent nude or partially phones of themselves over the Internet on their phones.
  • Twenty-two percent of teens admit that technology makes them more forward and aggressive.
  • Thirty-eight percent of teens say exchanging sexy content makes dating or hooking up with others more likely.
  • Twenty-nine percent of teens believe those exchanging sexy content are “expected” to date or hook up.

And according to information from MTV and The Associated Press, 30 percent of teens sext.

Not only do 20 to 30 percent of teens sext, but it can become life or death when that picture starts to circulate around the school and community. AMW’s Safety Center website tells the story of Ohio teen Jessica Logan. One snap of a camera phone changed her life forever: that one image—meant only for her boyfriend at the time—would have deadly ramifications. Jessica’s parents said she took her own life in her bedroom after the racy photo was leaked around her school, and she had been harassed for months.

In the March 30, 2009 issue of People magazine the article “The Dangers of Sexting” tells of two young boys who shared a sext photo and wound up in trouble with the law. Fortunately for these two students, no charges were filed. But because of child pornography laws, anyone that takes and sends a nude photo of a minor can be charged.

In 2009, a CBS news report on the dangers of sexting said that anyone (minors included) possessing nude pictures of underage kids is violating the letter of the law. They can be charged with felonies and must register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

Eric Higgs, a deputy sheriff in Effingham County, IL said that in his county and surrounding counties 40 percent of teens with cellphones have received at least one sexually explicit photo from another teen.

I have personally dealt with the devastation and fallout that comes from sexting. It’s not easy sitting with parents and talking about images that their little girls have sent out to boys. It’s not easy counseling these young women that for one reason or another sent these pictures to one person, and “somehow” they ended up all over the school.

Imagine the shame you would feel, if you knew that most of the people you see on a daily basis had seen intimate pictures of you. The embarrassment would be almost too much to take. These feelings can fade with time, but the harassment that takes place can affect a person long after the picture is forgotten. It manifests itself in a low self image. Some of the teen girls have sought out the comfort of another teen boy who will tell them they love them, only to find out the only thing that boy loved was the physical encounter that came from the comforting words. Then the cycle repeats itself.

In my decade of working with teens and their families, this is not an extreme but the norm. Sex, in any form, is powerful. The teen psyche is not equipped to handle the fallout and responsibility that comes from sexting.

Thankfully there has been push back from networks with large teen audiences, such as MTV, using their large platforms to warn teens about the dangers of sexting. Hopefully this will help. But the first line of defense takes place in the home. We must be aware of the problem and then have solutions to the problem.

Here are some tips from Commonsense.org:

  • Don’t wait for an incident to happen to your child or your child’s friend before you talk about the consequences of sexting. Sure, talking about sex or dating with teens can be uncomfortable, but it’s better to have the talk before something happens.
  • Remind your kids that once an image is sent, it can never be retrieved, and they will lose control of it. Ask teens how they would feel if their teachers, parents or the entire school saw the picture, because that happens all the time.
  • Talk about pressures to send revealing photos. Let teens know that you understand how they can be pushed or dared into sending something. Tell them that no matter how big the social pressure is, the potential social humiliation can be hundreds of times worse.
  • Teach your children that the buck stops with them. If someone sends them a photo, they should delete it immediately. It’s better to be part of the solution than the problem. Besides, if they do send it on, they’re distributing pornography—and that’s against the law.
  • Check out ThatsNotCool.com. It’s a fabulous site that gives kids the language and support to take texting and cellphone power back into their own hands. It’s also a great resource for parents who are uncomfortable dealing directly with this issue.

Beyond just talking with your student there are ways to see if your student is caught up in sexting. Check your cell phone bills. If there a lot of data usage charges on your bill, it means there are some pictures being sent back and forth. Make sure you set limits on what times your teen is allowed to have the phone. Pick the phone up and look through it. If there are any sexually explicit pictures, delete them right away. And if you have to, there are resources online to help track and monitor what happens on your teen’s phone.

The world that I grew up in is vastly different than the world today. My children are and will face pressures once unheard of. Sexting is one such pressure.

As parents, we must be willing to do whatever it takes to guide our children to a point of mature adulthood. Doing so can and will lead to uncomfortable conversations and circumstances. I would encourage all parents to do a little digging on social media, both the positives and the negatives. Arm yourself with information and then use that information to help guide your child to responsibility.

Have you dealt with sexting? What advice would you give? The more conversation we have, the better we all become.

Portage Teen Arrested For ‘Sexting’ As Two Girls Apparently Sent Him Naked Pictures [ huffingtonpost.com, 14/4/2011]


A 15-year-old in Portage, Indiana was arrested last week for having naked pictures of two girls on his phone.

The freshman at Portage High School is being charged with juvenile possession of child pornography, according to police.

Officials looked on the boy’s cell phone after receiving a phone call from the mother of one of the girls, age 15. She said that the boy had threatened to post pictures of her daughter on MySpace unless she lent him her saxophone, the Associated Press reports. The boy denies that claim.

The other girl, age 14, told police that she had sent nude photos of herself to several boys, including at Portage, Hobart, Chesterton and Lake Station High Schools. She also had photos of herself, and of another boy, in the buff on her iPod, which she showed police, according to the Northwest Indiana Times.

In both cases, the girls appear to have sent him the photos voluntarily, and it’s unclear whether he solicited them or not.

Portage Township Schools Superintendent Michael Berta said all the students in question will be suspended, and possibly expelled. “There’s guilt on both sides,” said Berta, according to NBC Chicago. “Parents must be very attentive to the children that you have, and to their interaction with the evolving technology.”

Suspect in stabbing of school resource officer says he was bullied repeatedly [ abcactionnews.com, by Bill Logan, 10/4/2011]

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Things are slowly returning to normal at Carwise Middle School.

Authorities say a 13-year-old boy stabbed the Resource Officer there on Wednesday.

Officer Kenneth Fridlund caught the teen in the bathroom with 11 glass bottles full of gasoline. When questioned, the boy stabbed the officer in the stomach without warning.

Students arriving on campus had much to say on Thursday. Some say they wish they didn’t have to come back today, while others said it’s important to get back to normal.

There is more about the young man in question who brought the gas-filled bottles to school along with the the knife. He has been identified and some information was available from inside sources, including some teachers, who said he wasn’t a bad kid but that he did suffer some taunts and some bullying.

For now, ABC Action News is not naming him because he is a minor and no charges have been filed yet.

It was back to school as normal as possible for the students, teachers and the resource officers.

A day after a student brought a duffel bag with the bottles full of gasoline and stabbed the resource officer, everybody was abuzz about the incident.

“I guess it leads from bullying,” said student Loren Jackson. “And this is probably his way of taking it out.”

Students said the seventh grader, who would wear his boy scout uniform to school, was occasionally picked on.

“I guess they would just, like, bully him because he was wearing the outfit to school and stuff,” said Nicole Carver.

“I guess he tried to threaten to burn down the school, trying to scare the students. ” said Jackson.

He scared parents who said they were fearful that the incident had been brewing for awhile.

“It’s just sad,” said Kimberly Frazier, right after she dropped her son off for school. “Something’s not right in that child’s life.”

Sad, too, that a resource officer required emergency surgery to repair a stab wound and a day of learning was lost to yesterday’s lockdown.

The teen suspect continues to be evaluated mentally.

Authorities say the process could take up to 72 hours and it won’t be until after that before criminal charges are contemplated.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual students win strong allies in battle against bullying. [ miamiherald.com, by Rob Hotakainen, 8/4/2011].

6a00d83451b26169e2014e607c2b2e970cWASHINGTON — After a rash of suicides linked to bullying in public schools, gay and lesbian students are punching back as never before. Armed with lawsuits and legislation, they’re finding powerful allies as they demand an end to the harassment.

In the White House, they’ve won backing from President Barack Obama, and on Capitol Hill, they have support from at least 23 Democratic senators who are promoting anti-bullying legislation.

Perhaps most importantly, they’ve found help from the U.S. Department of Education, which now regards school bullying as a civil rights issue. As a result, schools have been warned that if they don’t take bullying seriously and work harder to protect students, they could lose their federal aid and face prosecution.

All this is good news for Maggie Davidson, a 15-year-old bisexual freshman at Redmond (Wash.) Junior High School who came to Washington last week to lobby members of Congress to crack down on bullying.

“It’s really amazing to see how a group of people who have been so oppressed for so many years is finally taking a stand for themselves,” she said.

Maggie was one of 40 participants from 29 states who went door-to-door on Capitol Hill last week, sharing their personal stories with members of Congress and staffers. It was her first time in Washington.

“It was definitely intimidating, but it was empowering at the same time,” she said. “This is important to me because I think that schools should be a place where all kids feel safe. The number one priority of a school should be to provide kids with an education, and nothing should get in the way of that.”

Many school officials, however, fear that it will be much easier to sue them after the Department of Education told them last fall that they’re required under civil rights laws to prevent harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

It’s causing something of a backlash.

The bullying issue “has become the most politicized it has ever become in history,” said Ken Trump, the president of Cleveland-based National School Safety and Security Services, a consulting firm. He called it “the political prostitution of school safety,” aimed at trying to get protections for sexual orientation and gender identification written into federal law, something that gay-rights backers have been unable to do in Congress.

“This is a back-door attempt to create a protected class,” Trump said.

Other critics regard the growing anti-bullying campaigns as an attempt to silence opponents.

“There is a real danger that anti-bullying policies will be used to curtail any speech in schools critical of homosexuality,” said Peter LaBarbera, the president of a group called Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, which opposes gay rights.

He said schools must protect all children, “including those confused about their sexual or gender identity.” But he added: “They must never use bullying prevention to engage in one-sided advocacy about homosexuality, thereby discriminating against Christian, Jewish and Muslim students who believe homosexual practice is wrong.”

Nearly 90 percent of middle and high school gay and lesbian students have experienced harassment, and nearly two-thirds of them have felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, according to a survey by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, an advocacy group.

One of them, Russell Dickerson III, took his case to a federal court in Tacoma, Wash., aided by the American Civil Liberties Union. He’s suing the Aberdeen, Wash., school district, charging that it did nothing to stop years of harassment, which left him with post-traumatic stress disorder and high blood pressure at age 14.

Dickerson, who’s now 20, said he was called a “faggot,” that he found notes in his locker with vicious insults and that students tripped him in the cafeteria and threw food at him. In one incident, he said, three students pushed him to the floor and smashed a raw egg on his head. Only one of the three students was disciplined.

Last September, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, reacted to a string of suicides by calling on the Obama administration to speak out and to push all schools to implement anti-bullying policies.

The suicides included a 13-year-old California boy who hanged himself from a tree outside his home after months of bullying. A 15-year-old Indiana youth hanged himself after being called a “fag” over and over again, and a Rutgers University freshman jumped off a bridge after his roommate secretly made a webcast of him being amorous with another male student.

The bullying issue has been a hot one in statehouses, with 11 states already passing anti-bullying laws based on sexual orientation and gender identity: Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Last month, Obama hosted the first-ever White House conference on bullying prevention, inviting participants from across the nation.

“If there’s one goal of this conference, it’s to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up,” Obama said. “It’s not.”

Maggie said she was feeling optimistic these days, particularly with the president taking up her cause.

“He’s the power over everyone in the country, and he obviously has a lot of say in what goes on,” she said. “So if he stands for something, then it’s likely a lot of other people will follow in his footsteps.”

Future princess Kate Middleton ‘bullied to tears’ at school [ heraldsun.com.au, 3/4/2011]

Princess-to-be Catherine Middleton was bullied to tears as a young teen at school, because she was too nice.

Now aged 29 and due to marry Prince William on April 29, Miss Middleton’s school torment included having her bed soiled by fellow students, Britain’s News of the World newspaper reported.

“She hated it, absolutely hated it,” school pal Jessica Hay said of Miss Middleton’s time at the exclusive Downe House girls’ boarding school.

“The girls there were horrible. They used to put faeces in her bed and she was very, very badly bullied.

“She was picked on because she was perfect – well turned out and a lovely person. She was not the type of person to stick up for herself,” Ms Hay told the newspaper.

Aged 13 at the height of the bullying, the Middleton family withdrew their daughter from the school mid-term and she transferred to Marlborough where she completed her secondary schooling.

Miss Middleton and her prince have named Beatbullying as one of many charities their wedding guests will be invited to support in lieu of gifts.

Details of Miss Middleton’s troubled school life are set to be revealed in a new book, Kate, written by Sean Smith and released on May 2, which tells how the royal fiancee was self-conscious about her height and the condition eczema, from which she suffered as a girl.