True scale of bullying in schools to be exposed by new laws [The Irish News, by Simon Doyle, 21/11/2015]

The true scale of bullying in schools is to be exposed by new legislation to come before Stormont.

Schools are to be ordered for the first time to record all incidents, education minister John O’Dowd has confirmed.

There is no requirement to report every occurrence and no detailed figures for primary or secondary schools exist.

While there are about 200 suspensions every year for bullying, the full extent of the problem is said to be much greater.

The new bill was given the green light as Anti-Bullying Week drew to a close on Friday.

Schools organised activities around the theme What Bullying Means To Me.

On Friday children from Christ the Redeemer PS in Lagmore welcomed the GAA’s Cúl Heroes – footballer Finn Macúl and hurler Cúl Cullen.

The pair awarded anti-bullying ambassadors certificates to pupils as part of a day of GAA activities designed to beat bullying.

Mr O’Dowd said the new bill would be introduced as early as November 30 so legislation could be enacted within this assembly mandate.

The legislation has three main objectives: to provide a legal definition of bullying; to introduce a requirement for schools to record all incidents of bullying; and to require boards of governors to have specific responsibility for anti-bullying policy and practice within schools.

Bullying is a complex issue with no single, easy solution however, we all have a part to play in creating a society, and an education system, in which bullying behaviour is always challenged, and dealt with effectively, as soon as it rears its head,” Mr O’Dowd said.

Yik Yak app controversy [TigerTV, by Kamyn Stelly, 18/11/2015 ]

Yik Yak, a social media app is giving cyber bullying a new meaning by bringing online threats to reality.

Olivia Appel says, “I have a friend that I knew freshman year that had things that were posted about her that were so negative that she had to get local law enforcement involved because it was to such extremes.”

Yik Yak is used within a 1.5 mile radius of college campuses where students can post anonymously.

Seandra Cosgrove, LSU Psychology grad student says cyber bullying on social media apps is a problem.

She says, Cyber bullying can be very psychologically damaging, one study found that 93 percent of cyber bullying victims had negative psychological effects, so either depression, anxiety or hopelessness.”

Summer Steib, Director of Women’s Center on LSU’s campus says holding people accountable for cyber bullying is the best way to combat the issue on campus.

She says, “How do we encourage action from students and then how do we empower them to become active bystanders and to intervene and to shut those types of conversations down and say you know that’s not my LSU.”

LSU student Olivia Appel knows the effects of being cyber bullied.

She says, “I know how hard it can be to deal with these things and that Yik Yak really is a form of cyber bullying.”

Despite the negative impacts of Yik Yak, there may be hope on LSU’s campus because advocacy groups are pleading with legislators for censorship on college campuses.

The dangers and consequences of “sexting” [Fox29, 18/11/2015]

SAN ANTONIO — Sexting can lead to some pretty serious trouble, and often times a child may not understand the consequences.

“When the damage is done, these kiddos, they’re devastated,” said Clarissa Zamora, the Director of Education at Child Safe.

A harmless conversation could lead to something harmful, and someone may even ask your child to take an inappropriate picture.

“Hey, if you care about me, you’ll send me this picture, or if you love me you’re gonna send me this picture,” Zamora went on to say.

Sexing could lead to a potential Class C misdemeanor, punishable with up to a $500 fine.

“It may seem like a very small charge, but that’s still something that’s going to go on your record,” said Officer Doug Greene with the San Antonio Police Department.

Zamora tells Fox San Antonio, while parents can talk to their children about sexting, they can also keep track of what they are doing on their cell phone by downloading an application on their phone.

“You can monitor texts, you can see what’s going to be sent out, you can see what photos are being sent out,” Zamora added.

Several Canyon Middle School students received disciplinary action after the school district says the students shared inappropriate and potentially illegal images via cell phone.

Canyon Middle School sent a letter home with students on Tuesday about the incident, and adds none of the images were taken on campus.

A spokesperson for Comal ISD sent the following statement:

“It is important that students understand that what they post in cyberspace may have not only have disciplinary consequences, but more importantly a potentially negative impact on their reputation. We are encouraging parents to use this incident as a teachable moment with their kids, and to be an active participant in their child’s digital life.”

National anti-bullying programme needed as first online resource is launched [ IrishExaminer, by Noel Baker, 19/11/2015

A national anti-bullying programme needs to be rolled out across the country according to a panel of experts behind Ireland’s first online resource to help those affected.

The national director of the Anti-Bullying Centre (ABC), James O’Higgins Norman, said there had never been as much effort put towards combating the problem of bullying as there has been in recent years, but more needed to be done.

Mr O’Higgins Norman, who is also a senior lecturer in the Institute of Education at Dublin City University, was speaking after the launch of, a new single point of contact for those affected by bullying and which includes an online forum where people can share experiences and discuss solutions.

The website is the first such online resource in Ireland and has dedicated sections for those experiencing bullying, as well as parents and teachers, and provides information regarding methods to deal with the problem, including online or cyberbullying.

The website was officially launched yesterday by Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan, who said it would prove to be an “invaluable resource”.

It is estimated that about 30% of schoolchildren have experienced some form of traditional bullying, either as victim, perpetrator or bystander, while about 15% have similarly been involved in some capacity in cyber-bullying.

Mr O’Higgins Norman said that while the numbers of people reporting bullying remained consistent, the response to the problem in some schools was “ad hoc” and there was a need for retraining of education professionals to ensure cases were dealt with in a better way.

“We receive calls every day at the Anti-Bullying Centre that would bring tears to your eyes, not just because of the bullying but because of the way it is dealt with,” he siad.

“There is a huge need to upskill teachers regarding how to deal with bullying. It’s ad hoc — some cases are dealt with really well and some are dealt with badly.

“Speaking as director of the ABC, I think it is time to roll out a national anti-bullying programme so all teachers and boards of management can be trained.”

He said a similar programme had been used in Norway and that such an initiative would guarantee a minimum standard as to how cases are dealt with and a minimum standard of skills and knowledge among those dealing with bullying.

He said that as far as the ABC was concerned there were sufficient laws available in cases that may warrant a criminal justice response, but that in the vast majority of cases the best approach was education.

Mr O’Higgins Norman also said that while there were many suggestions as to smartphone Apps and other technology strands to combat bullying, users typically tended to find a way around them, meaning re-educating those who bully was always likely to be a better response to the problem.

The launch of the anti-bullying website is part of the final phase of implementation of the Government’s action plan on bullying and Ms O’Sullivan said: “Bullying is not a problem that schools alone can tackle and it is incumbent on each and every one of us in the wider community to stand up to bullying.”

Additional funding has also been made available for the National Parents Councils (primary and post-primary) anti-bullying training programme for parents.

How serious is sexting among teens? [9news, by Amanda Wright, 19/11/2015

KUSA – A recent sexting scandal at Cañon City High School shed some light on the issue of sexting.

Sexting is when someone texts another person something risqué, sometimes including nude images. In some cases, teens caught sexting could face lifelong consequences like being labeled a sex offender.

A new poll shows a lot of Colorado residents take the issue a little more lightly than expected.

According to the Quinnipiac survey, 42 percent of voters think sexting is a very serious problem. Thirty-three percent said it was “somewhat serious,” and in other poll, 69 percent didn’t believe a student should get expelled if caught.

(© 2015 KUSA)

Cyber Bullying: The effects and the signs [ Kulr8News, by Samantha Harrelson, 14/11/2015 ]

The face of bullying is changing and with that even more severe consequences. Cyber bullying is becoming more prevalent in our schools, and is not starting to effect children at a younger age.

Social media has given parents and schools a whole new issue to be concerned with. The effects of online bullying can be detrimental and long lasting, especially since comments made online can last forever.

Karen Kietzman, a clinical psychologist, she said it is important to talk to your kids about what bullying means. An open dialog will help them understand when it is happening to them and when to ask for help.

“It is almost like the schools have inherited this problem, because parents have turned around and given their kids all of the technology possible, thinking that it is going to make them more successful in life. In retrospect, what it is doing is distracting them and causing them mental health issues that we never could even imagine,” said Officer George Zorzakis, a school resources officer.

While it is not face to face, bullying online gives the attacker a sense of security and allows them to say things they would not say in person.

“Some of the bullying is, you know, ‘you are such a bad person, you should just be dead’. That is very severe verbal abuse so you have to help them correct that internally and help them realize that that was a lie, that it is wrong. But they don’t have that internal voice sometimes and you need to provide it,” said Kietzman.

Experts say it is important to keep tabs on your children and keep open communication to help know when there is a change in their behavior and when something may be going on.

Kietzman says signs can include behavior change, isolation and even obsessive behavior about social media.

“The ability to just to know your child and be involved with your child in their events and being open about media and so you can maybe catch it. Even if you catch it ‘late’, you can still get your child help,” said Kietzman.

If you notice signs of depression, go to a doctor or school counselor.

Sexting is blighting children’s lives. Education needs to catch up [ theguardian, by Lola Okolosie, 12/11/2015]

Sexting, or what teenagers apparently call “dodgy pix”, “nudes” or “nude selfies” – not that I’ve ever heard them do that – is becoming standard practice among this age group. This announcement comes from the government’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) which is worried that most who do so are unaware that their actions could result in a criminal conviction. As a secondary school teacher and parent I can attest that we are in uncharted, daunting waters.

Yet while there is frenetic work going on over radicalisation and child sexual exploitation, the most recent official government advice on sex and relationship education was issued 15 years ago. There is no strategic focus on sex education and this remains shocking, particularly when figures show that 31% of girls and 16% of boys aged 13-17 report that they have experienced sexual violence at least once in their short lives.


The training given to teachers on sex and relationship education is either nonexistent or inadequate and we are left to muddle our own way through, should the topic present itself. It is unsurprising, then, that I and 62% of my fellow teachers are apprehensive about delivering sexually explicit content. Yet the issues raised by teen sex and relationships can affect our work as teachers.

How, for example, is the reality of sexting affecting young people’s emotional wellbeing and their educational attainment? And before the rolled eyes or exasperated sighs of “we can’t be surprised young people are obsessed with sex”, let us pause to consider how it might feel to know that five of your colleagues in the office have circulated a picture of your breasts or a dick pic. It would be difficult to return to work each morning amid the giggles and sneers, much less concentrate, wouldn’t it?

In the vacuum created by not providing personal social and health education (PSHE), this is increasingly the experience of our young people. And, as with most things in society, there is a heavy gender imbalance. According to the NSPCC, where sexting is concerned girls are “the most adversely affected”. The usual double standards abide; girls’ sexual expression is easily twisted into something to be ashamed of while boys can boast of theirs.

What the NSPCC finds is that, yes, sexting is an expression of burgeoning tween/teenage sexuality. But it is also, all too often, linked to harassment, bullying, control and violence. It objectifies and is largely coercive. Some girls become victims of “snaking” – a practice in which a boy befriends a girl, solicits “dodgy pix” only for them to be shared among his friends as a form of cultural currency. The French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss posited that patriarchy is founded upon the “exchange of women” between men. It is something these teenage boys innately understand.


And so, in any given class, a teacher might find themselves managing the behaviours of a victim of sexual bullying and harassment, an abuser and countless online bystanders. Teachers, parents and, crucially, young people themselves, need sex and relationship education to be made compulsory. This is the only way to ensure that schools give it proper curriculum time. Currently state secondary schools are only required to cover sex education as it relates to contraception and sexually transmitted infections. Schools are therefore well within their rights to ignore issues such as pornography and sexting. It’s shocking to think that secondary academies and free schools do not have to provide any sex education at all.

We know young people are interested in sex, so educating them on these issues shouldn’t be about finger-wagging moralising. Neither should it be about criminalisation because, really, how many adults can remember passing up stolen fumbles with their teenage crush because, you know, it’s illegal. That is not the world as we knew it then or now.

Bully for No One [ MomZette, by Jill Kaufmann, 13/11/2015]

Bullying certainly has come out of the shadows these past few decades.

At long last, schools, parents, and society at large have stopped repeating the tired old stick-and-stones slogan. The truth is, words do hurt. Bullying — true bullying — is known to have a negative impact on many areas of a child’s life and should not be ignored or tolerated.


What is Bullying, Exactly?
Bullying is when a more powerful person repeatedly behaves in a threatening, aggressive or humiliating manner toward a less powerful person. It can be a beat-up-a-small-kid-on-the-playground physical bullying, or social bullying, in which a victim is repeatedly ridiculed by a person or peer group.

Both situations can spill over to social media, so the bullied often feel as if they have no place to escape.

Related: Kids’ Safety on Social Media

Bullying is most common in middle school and the early years of high school, tapering off as teen mature into young adults. However, we’ve all run across a few adult bullies, haven’t we?

Rivalries, routine disagreements, or children simply not liking one another is not bullying. Kids and teens benefit from managing difficult relationships with other young people, which teaches them problem-solving skills. It also gives them a healthy sense of pride in knowing they can stand up for themselves.

Talking About Bullying: An Ongoing Conversation
When it comes to talking with your children about bullying, odds are you aren’t breaking new ground. Most likely their school has an anti-bullying program and your child has seen or experienced bullying in one form or another.

While bullying is no longer ignored, it certainly isn’t extinct. Try to make your family’s discussion of bullying open-ended and ongoing. This conversation, like most, is not a box to be checked off and then ignored.

During a routine chat about school while in the car or around the dinner table, you could say, “Hey, I was wondering if bullying is a thing at your school?” Casually wording the question is likely to get you much further than approaching your child out of the blue with an intense “Are you being bullied?” or “You’re not a bully, are you?”

Related: Best Parent-Teacher Relationships

As you have these conversations, try to sense the social climate in your child’s school. Is it a positive, supportive space with relatively little aggression, or is it more confrontational and hostile? Knowing this will give you great insight about exactly what your child’s days are like.

Bullied or the Bully?

It is easy to worry only about those being bullied while overlooking the bully. No, not every child who is a bully grows up to be a sociopath.

However, bullying behavior must not be dismissed. Parents of bullies need to respond strongly to stop the behavior and learn what is causing them to act that way in the first place.

It could simply be an immature way to gain popularity. Or it could be a sign children are struggling with deeper emotional problems. Often, those who bully need additional support and guidance from their parents, teachers, and counselors to engage with peers in more appropriate ways.

Related: Teaching Our Children Well

If children are being bullied, they may feel embarrassed or ashamed, and often are not willing to discuss it with their mom or dad. This is why ongoing conversations can make it easier. Establishing a regular family check-in will make it much easier for them to feel that opening up is OK. Keep in mind that everyone tires of the same old, “How was work? How was school?” question. Develop fun approaches to share the news of the day.

Keep Your Eyes Open
But as every parent knows, sometimes even the most innovative conversation strategy won’t result in much info.

Put on your detective hat and watch for changes in behavior, changes in peer group, changes in mood. This is where an established routine of keeping an eye on your children’s online presence can be helpful.

Related: Best Thing a Dad Can Do

While behavior changes can, and do, happen as a typical part of growing up, alarming changes like not sleeping or eating normally, giving up favorite activities, avoiding friends, and a sudden drop in grades need to be explored. Rule out bullying or other problems.

Bullying is a vast topic, one that has been much researched, written and reported on in the past few years. For a particularly insightful look at this difficult topic, check out Emily Bazelon’s 2013 book, “Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy.”

Jill Kaufmann, LMFT, is a family therapist in Bend, Oregon.

Colorado’s sexting scandal has drawn attention to ‘ghost apps’ that can hide nude pics. [ BusinessInsiderUK, by EugeneKim, 9/11/2015 ]

“Ghost apps, hidden apps, they’re everywhere and kids know about them,” Mike Harris, Jefferson County District Attorney investigator, told NBC Nightly News.

So what exactly are these “ghost apps”?

A quick Google search for vault apps gives you a number of different options that have similar functionalities. Some of them look like a normal calculator app, but once you type in a secret code, it takes you to a hidden page where you can store photos, video, and all kinds of personal information.

Investigators are saying at least 100 Canon City High School kids used such apps to share and store hundreds of nude and seminude pics with each other, including students as young as 13. Students involved in the case could face possible charges of possessing and distributing child pornography.

The New York Times points out such vault apps have been in the market since as early as 2012, and some are very popular, like Private Photo Vault, which is ranked the 28th most downloaded photo and video app on the AppStore, while an app called Secret Calculator Folder Free has over 800 reviews.

The bigger problem is that this may just be a tip of the iceberg. The NBC report stressed that other sexting scandals have been reported in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Tennessee recently, and that most schools in the US have seen similar cases in one way or another.

“There isn’t a school in the US probably at this point that hasn’t dealt with the issue of sexting,” said Canon City School Superintendent George Welsh.

Here’s a screen shot of the Secret Calculator Folder Free app:

Secret Calculator Folder Free