OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Victims in Schools
Patricia Agatston, Susan Limber  -  2009/3/18
I realize this session focuses on the victim, but what about the 10 year-old perpetrator? What is the best approach for bringing about change?
1.  Sue Limber
 According to national statistics, many children, nearly one in five 6-10th graders, admit that they have bullied another child with some frequency (several times or more in a couple month period). Bullying behavior typically persists if these children are rewarded for their behavior if adults dont stop it and set limits and if their peers either actively support their behavior or dont speak out to stop them. Adults at school and at home must set very clear rules and expectations about behavior (i.e., bullying is NOT allowed), supervise them closely, issue clear consequences when rules are not followed, and redirect their behavior in more pro-social ways. Other students should be encouraged to speak out about bullying when they feel safe doing so, and to always tell an adult.
Bullying is an aggressive and sometimes violent psychological action taken by an individuals young and old suffering from low self esteem and needing to feel a sense of power over another person. It is acted out daily in the neighborhoods, playgrounds, internet and offices across the nation. It crosses all ethnic and class stratefications!Effective and sustainable treatment is the challenge we face in solving this problem. How do we handle situations of bullying when the parent thinks it is the right thing to do as a sense of personal strength?
1.  Patti
 It is a common myth that children who bully have low self-esteem. The research actually demonstrates that bullies have average to above average self-esteem. Keep in mind that it is sometimes the popular kids at school who engage in bullying behavior. These kids have a lot of social influence, but they may not be really liked by the peer group. A whole-school approach that includes parents in discussions about bullying is often much more effective than strategies that focus solely on victims and bullies. It is important to engage parents in our bullying prevention efforts through parent educational programs, parent class meetings, newsletters and emails. Parents need to know that all instances of bullying behavior will be taken seriously and that consequences will be given and upheld. Bullying is not just a normal part of growing up and kids being kids. It is a form of abuse just like child abuse and domestic violence.
Does 'bullying' only effect individuals within a certain age group? When the bullying occurs categorically in the older populations (i.e. ages 18 - 99), does the bullying then become classified as harassment or a hate crime? Is bullying classified as harassment or part of a hate crime in the younger populations as well? In either scenario, if an assault or battery takes place or assault and battery, does it alter the classification of the crime as it relates to 'bullying'?
1.  Sue Limber
 The answer depends on whether you're focusing on the legal or social arenas. The term bullying can be used in different ways. It is used by researchers and practitioners to describe behavior that is aggressive, repetitive, and that involves an imbalance of power. While we usually use the term to discuss childrens behavior, some certainly use the term to describe behavior of adults as well. (For example, there is a lot of attention to workplace bullying currently. In the legal arena, behavior of adults that meets certain criteria would be classified as harassment or a hate crime. For children, sometimes their behavior can cross legal lines and qualify as harassment or hate crimes. When it does, we should use these terms and call it what it is.
How to help a child who is getting bullied at school because his parents are in prison and keeps getting in trouble for fighting with bullies?
1.  Patti
 I sure would like the school to assist by addressing the behavior of the students who are engaging in the bullying behavior of this young man! That being said, this young man needs strategies as well. He has done nothing to deserve this, but he does need to learn how to stay calm and identify who he can contact for help when this occurs. Commend any positive steps he has used to stop the bullying, and help him find more effective ways to stay safe. Identify a friend or adult ally who can be a support to him (perhaps walking with him when this tends to occur). Also notify adults in the school and community to provide closer supervision during the times of day when this happens.
Hi I would like to know if there are any laws that can help with this issue when the victims are in a school setting whether it be a public or private setting?
1.  Sue Limber
 Yes, there are. There has been an explosion of interest by legislators in recent years. Currently, I believe 38 states now have laws that address bullying in school. Most require schools to develop policies on bullying, but the specific requirements vary a good bit from state to state. For example, some specifically address cyber bullying, while others do not. For a map of those states with bullying laws, go to: www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov.Although there is currently no federal law against bullying per se, victims of bullying (and their parents) may be able to seek damages under a number of federal laws that prohibit harassment against protected classes of individuals. For example, claims based on sexual harassment or gender discrimination can rely on Title IX of the Education Act Amendments of 1972. Claims of racial harassment may be brought under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Several federal statutes may be used in claims for peer harassment based on the physical or mental disability of the victim (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act).
2.  OB Street Law
 I actually asked the same question -- I work at a high school where a child is being bullied for his handicap and race and the administration is not responding. Do you know how to access the expert???
I working with 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students and have noticed a lot of relational aggression among girls. I have small groups designed to address this form of bullying but am seeking a school-wide approach. What would be the best way to go about this task?
1.  Patti
 I agree that a school-wide approach is the best way to address relational aggression (ra) as well as all forms of bullying. This usually takes a concerted effort so it will be ideal if you can form a school committee that is willing to address all forms of bullying. It is important to recognize that boys engage in ra too and to include prevention messages that target everyone. Some school-wide strategies would include surveying students about bullying behavior (including ra), developing school rules against bullying and having students develop posters on how to help when they witness bullying behavior. Train adults in the school to consistently intervene when they witness bullying behavior. In addition class room discussions about this topic during class meeting time can be a way to educate students and talk about possible solutions to the problem. Make sure to focus on bystanders who play a critical role by either supporting the gossip, rumors, and exclusion, or refusing to join in. Brainstorm what they can do to make a friendship conflict worse or better!
2.  Jerome Addison
 Although many parents are split with regards to the privacy rightsprivileges of their children, it is not unheard of to:Ask child to surrender cell phone every evening at a designated time (for the night). This may be a time that parent(s) scan text messages, pictures, and call traffic. Install software on computers that make a copy of all of the traffic of the computer
3.  Jerome Addison
 I would recommend starting with the book Bulling At School, by Dan Olweus. He presents his widely acclaimed and widely used model for school-wide intervention. Id be interested in your thoughts after reading the book, or looking him up on the web.
4.  Joel Mesa
 Have a core group of students implement Bullying Prevention campaigns to educate their peers on the dangers of Bullying. Activities include:A Bullying Prevention safety tip over the morning announcements, Bullying Prevention posters throughout the school, Bullying Prevention bulletin board created by students, Student presentations on Bullying Prevention to other students
Taking into consideration the youth (and/or nonexistence) of legislation governing online conduct, what are some useful approaches/tactics/methods for parents to employ when attempting to gather evidence of cyberbullying for use in taking legal/criminal recourse?
1.  Rebecca Wigandt
 Thank you for the response. As a follow-up, are there any specific parental monitoring products that you recommend for this specific purpose on PCs or mobile phones?
2.  Sue Limber
 Saving evidence is critically important. Unfortunately, the natural instinct of many children is to delete offensive messages, so parents must teach their children to print out or save any threatening or harassing e-mails or IMs that they receive. All IM programs have a save feature, but children may need help in knowing how to do this. Similarly, if children receive offensive pictures or are directed to a website that is offensive, they should be taught to turn off the monitornot the computerand notify a parent immediately. Older children can be taught to save webpages.In terms of gathering evidenceif threatening messages are coming through a cell phone via text messaging, the phone number can be traced and reported to the cell phone provider.Parents who are concerned that their child is being frequently targeted may find it helpful to download keystroke monitoring software that records everything transpiring on a computer. There also are some new programs that may be downloaded onto cell phones that record messages.
3.  OB Street Law
 As an attorney I can recommend general advice on evidence gathering: document everything! Take notes with specific dates and names. File police reports frequently and develop a good relationship with your police dept.
Under what statutes or penal codes can perpetrators of cyberbullying currently be charged, and is there presently any specific effort to evolve the wording of these statutes or to form new pieces of law?
** What specific strategies are most effective in supporting victims, paralyzed by guilt and shame, to regain their sense of control and power? **Cyber bulling is an increasing phenomena that allows the participants to hide under a curtain of anonymity. What are some effective strategies of outreach to support the victims? **What are some of the societal consequences of bullying?
1.  Patti
 Many individuals who have been targeted by bullying behavior have been led to believe that it is somehow their fault. They have often received messages like, If you would just stand up to him, or you must be doing something to bother her. Many of the approaches one would take in addressing child abuse of other forms fit here. Help the child realize that he or she has done nothing wrong. Help him or her to see that the child who bullied him is responsible for the bullying. Recognize any positive steps he or she has taken in the past to deal with the bullying, and help him find effective ways to be safe. Bibliotherapy can be useful as well. I like the book, Letters to a Bullied Girl - real letters written to Olivia Gardner, a target of severe bullying and cyber bullying. Use grief and loss or trauma desensitization strategies to help reduce the painful feelings associated with the bullying memories. In terms of cyber bullying, it is important to recognize that bystanders play a role here as well. Many of the students I interviewed for our book indicated that it helped a great deal when there friends posted or sent positive comments and messages when they were being targeted. Societal consequences of bullying include schools that do not feel safe where students are often afraid to come to school. Targets of bullying behavior report lower self-esteem, higher rates of depression, suicidal ideation. Kids who engage in bullying behavior are more likely than their peers to be involved in antisocial and violent behavior. One study found that children identified as bullies in middle school were 4 times as likely as their peers to end up with three or more criminal convictions. Bystanders are affected too with higher rates of anxiety and eventually diminished empathy for the child targeted by bullying.
As a new social worker in the field, what are some tips to empower youth against bullying, and tools to educate parents?
1.  Sue Limber
 In my experience, adults are critical actors in bullying prevention, but students themselves also play key roles in preventing and stopping bullying. In working with youth, we should focus most of our efforts on bystanders, on the majority of children and youth who see or are aware of bullying but who may or may not take action to try to stop it. In a school setting, we can use class meetings as an avenue to help these students understand the seriousness of bullying, clarify what the schools expectations are for them to help stop bullying, and give them strategies and tools to build confidence and skills to take action (in those cases where they feel safe stepping in). The National Bullying Prevention Campaign has some great tools for engaging students in discussion about bullying, a useful tipsheet for youth about how to lend a hand to prevent bullying, and links to a variety of resources for educators to empower youth. Parent education is a critical piece as well, as you point out. There are some useful tipsheets produced by the National Bullying Prevention Campaign that are focused both at parents of children who bully and parents of children who are bullied. Youll find these at www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov.
2.  Kristine
 Izzy Kalman, a psychologist advocates a system that differs from most tell on the bully recommendations. His book suggests responses, coupled with a change in thinking about this topic. Bullies to Buddies.
Since services for victims are by definition singling out the child, what is the best way to present services without re-victimizing the child?
1.  Patti Agatston
 To gain the child's support we need to work with her to realize that she did not cause the problem and will not be expected to solve the problem on her own. Help her to see that she has a right to be protected from abuse and retaliation. The adults need to be advocates for the child.
The New Mexico Juvenile Justice System in Las Cruces, NM has recently incorporated the Missouri Model (Approach) in the treatment (Help) of Juvenile offenders. From initial findings the Approach seems to be working. Are there plans for the Missouri Model to be implemented throughout the Nation?
How can we make parents legally liable for their child's repeated bullying behavior so schools don't bare the sole burden of prevention when it is not supported at home?
I need to know about curriculums being used at the elementary levels in local schools to help fourth and fifth graders learn a more collaborative and verbal approach with Bulling, Bystanders, and Self-esteem?
1.  Patti Agatston
 It is important to select an evidence based program to use to address bullying in schools. Sue and I both work with the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program that includes classroom lessons that address all of the roles that individuals play when bullying occurs. However the Olweus program is not a curriculum - it is a comprehensive whole school approach. Stan Davis has written an excellent book entitled, Empowering Bystanders in Bullying Prevention that includes a variety of guidance tips and lessons that are appropriate for elementary school children.
Hello, could you kindly tell me what steps I could take to try and initiate an anti-bullying program within our local school districts? Thank you!
1.  Sue Limber
 Specific suggestions will depend a bit on your role (as a teacher, parent, other adult). Here are some general suggestions: (1) Encourage the school to assess bullying at the shcool and the commitment of staff to address the issue, (2) Learn about good bullying prevention programs (visit www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov), and (3) offer your help in implementing such a program. If your school doesn't have the resources or the interest to begin a research-based program, there are some strategies for taking initial steps to address bullying on this tipsheet: Steps to Address Bullying At Your School which can be found at www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov.
Bullying is an ongoing problem in the school systems. Bullying doesn’t discriminate. My site in Southern California is predominately Hispanic and Black. Keeping this into consideration, cultural pressures (from peers and even parents) frequently “brush-off” the problem, and in a sense accept it while concurrently suggesting, to “man-up” or deal with it. How can I provide services to these victims, when frequently they purposely refuse to accept help?
1.  Patti Agatston
 It is so important youth to recognize that bullying is a form of abuse - not a rite of passage. You might be able to use the movie Freedom Writers (or the book) to engage targeted youth. She points out how acceptance of putting others down is how a holocaust begins. Look for strong role models in their culture who are compassionate and spoke out for those who were unjustly targeted. MLK, Nelson Mandella, Ghandi,etc. www.teachingtolerance.org has useful materials for such discussions.
2.  Jerome Addison
 Ideally, bullying interventions/programs should be a part of a larger safe-schools initiative. Culturally-sensitive SEL, violence-prevention, conflict-resolution, and mediation programsservices may also be indicated for your student population as well as staff. Two curricula I am familiar with are SANKOFA, and Dare to be Kings
Children do not feel that adults are a good resource for helping them address cyberbullying. How can adults empower students to address cyberbullying and mentor their younger peers?
1.  Patti Agatston
 We can recognize that students are helpful resources in addressing cyber bullying since they often are more comfortable with technology than adults. Use their expertise to begin conversations about cyber bullying. Our prevention curriculum: Cyber Bullying Prevention Curriculum for Grades 6-12 uses students as facilitators.
Iím a Probation Officer responsible for operating a Diversion Program serving juveniles, both victims and perpetrators of bullying? Sadly, there are no local service providers offering preventative or responsive training to parents, victims, bullies or folks like myself who work with this population. Can you provide a list of resources i.e., facilitator training, videos, handouts, best practices, service provider training, etc. to help equip folks like me to better server our clients and families effected by bulling? Iím on the board of our state Probation Officer Assoc. Would you provide a list of Presenters/ Trainers whom you would recommend for our consideration as a presenter at our November 2009 annual training conference?
1.  Patti Agatston
 I recommend you go to www.olweus.org to learn more about the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. You can also find trainers in the Olweus program at the website: www.clemson.edu/olweus. You can also find information about Best Practices in Bullying Prevention at the www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov website.
Hello, do you have information, and will you be providing it today, regarding the bullying aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, and people of all ages?
1.  Patti Agatston
 There is a brand new fact sheet available on this important topic on the www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov website. Also teachingtolerance.org has very good resources and more information is available at www.glesen.org.
What techniques do you have to offer when it comes to helping bystanders understand how important to get involved?
1.  Patti Agatston
 Weekly class meetings or community sessions are an ideal time to discuss bullying behavior and classroom relationships. During these discussions it is helpful to discuss and role play helpful bystander behavior. Often kids think the only option is to aggressively confront the student engaged in bullying, or to tell an adult. There are many other supportive behaviors that students can demonstate.
What can law enforcement or SROs in particular do to assist victims of cyberbullying?
1.  Sue Limber
 SROs have important roles to play in bullying prevention and intervention (and in cyber bullying prevention more specifically). Among the many things that SROs can do is to enlist the support of administers to implement research-based bullying prevention programs, work actively with others at the school as part of a team to implement a comprehensive reseach-based program, be accessible to students and encourage them to come to you with concerns about bullying, help to create a reporting system in the school, carefully observe student behavior, and work with staff to create safety plans for victims of bullying. SROs also are often called upon to help to craft school policies and to help with training--specifically with regard to cyber safety and cyber bullying.The National Bullying Prevention Campaign (www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov) has a tip sheet entitled Involvement of Law Enforcement Officers in Bullying Preveniton, and a video workshop on the roles of law enforcement officers in preventing bullying, among other resources.
Are there any regulations on Internet Video Bullying?
1.  Patti
 Each video hosting site has a terms of use agreement. Bullying and assault videos are often a violation of the terms of service and can be reported to the site to be removed. In addition - videos that include physical assault may be used as evidence to bring criminal charges.
We are looking for information on a Research based comprehensive school bullying program.
1.  Sue Limber
 There is a large listing of bullying prevention programs located at www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov (adult pages) which provides a description of the program, a summary of research on the program's effectiveness, and links for more information.
What books would you recommend on the topic of the understanding the viewpoint of a victim of bullying?
1.  Patti Agatston
 I like the book, Letters to a Bullied Girl since these are actual letters that people have written to support a girl targeted by bullying. Many of the writers share their own memories of being bullied. There is a book called Please Don't Laugh At Me. There are also book lists on the stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov website.
How is it best to help teens with bullying from other teens about wearing a "chastidy ring" when the victim of the bullying has also been a victim of rape?
1.  Mary Cay Bixler
 Thank you, Patty for the insight. This availability to professional guidance is helpful for those of us who are not trained psychologists but in the trenches and sometimes the buffer for kids who need to talk. The first response to these kids is critical. I'm sure I'll be back.
2.  Mary Cay Bixler
 Thank you, Michelle. Your response is most helpful. It points out that even though there may be so many layers of assault, it can be a 'simple' beginning that paves the way to empowerment. God bless you and your work!
3.  Michelle
 With any victim of a sexual assault I believe it is important for them to understand they can still have physical boundaries even though they were once violated.
4.  Patti Agatston
 Ask the teen being targeted to identify friends who can be supporters. Identify when and where the bullying occurs and brainstorm how she can have one of these friends with her. Kids who are targeted indicate that it makes a huge difference if they have someone around who will be a support. In the absence of these positive bystanders they tend to assume that everyone is against them. In addition try to identify an adult who can speak with the students who are engaging in the bullying behavior. Be careful not to say that the teen who is targeted told. The students engaging in bullying behavior can be told that other adults witnessed their behavior, or other students reported it.
Relational aggresion as it relates to age, gende ses, and age. Schools are having difficulty with girls beating the heck out of each other in ms and hs. Your thoughts?
1.  Patti Agatston
 Relational aggression is not physical aggression. Relational aggression involves using behaviors like gossip, rumors, and exclusion to harm another person's relationships. Many students claim they would rather be physically hit than to be excluded. So it's important for us to recognize that bullying can be both direct (hitting, shoving, stealing items) and indirect(relational aggression, cyber bullying.) In some schools girls are more likely to engage in physical forms of bullying, and in other schools girls use more indirect methods. It is also important to recognize that there is a difference between bullying and fighting. Fighting is a conflict between peers where there is not an imbalance of power. The individuals have just chosen to deal with their conflict in a physically aggressive manner. Conflict resolution, and peer mediation can be helpful in dealing with conflicts between peers on equal footing. However these techniques are not appropriate when there is an imbalance of power - which is a hallmark of bullying behavior.
I was wondering if there were many services provided in schools today regarding bullying?
1.  TJW
 Unfortunately most school districts (in Wisconsin) and I would assume many other states already have policies in place that are more stringent than the state policy. None of them do any good unless enforced. Document any and all contacts with the schools in regards to harassment concerns, go through the appropriate channels and if all else fails, involve the media.
2.  Tami Livingston
 What do you do when school officials ignore a parent's concerns that their child is being harrassed?
3.  Patti Agatston
 The good news is that more states are requiring schools to have policies in place to address bullying behavior. It is important however that the policy be a good one! In addition more schools are recognizing that we need a whole school approach to dealing with bullying that is based on current research on what is effective. We cannot just focus on the target and perpetrator. Everyone (particularly adults) has a role to play.
Best Practices: Are the ideas of psychologist Izzy Kalman catching on-that empowering victims and not telling on the bullies (unless dangerous)has better outcomes?
1.  Kristine
 In my experience, kids need help from adults in feeling confidence it takes to use Izzy's methods + in practicing responses. In the sense that this has the victim respond to the bully, it is putting the burden on them. But adults aren't in the halls with the kids-they have to do something THEN. All of life is about how to handle what happens to you.
2.  Kathy
 I've attended one of his workshops because I wanted to hear his message for myself. In my opinion he did sway people in the audience who were unfamiliar with the research in the field and were frustrated/disappointed with approaches that have not worked in the past. I disagreed with almost everything he said and thought some of it want potentially harmful.
3.  Sue Limber
 I don't think that it's catching on across the country, although there certainly are some that share his views. In my experience, most people recognize that the dynamics in a bullying situation can make it extraordinarily difficult for children who are bullied to address their tormenters directly. Often they NEED adult assistance. This doesn't mean that we can't help give them support and skills, but we cannot expect them to right these wrongs by themselves.
4.  Robyn
 I am curious about the bullyproofing as well. It seems like you are putting the responsibility on the victim to not be upset by the bullying.
Hello. I work for a vocational rehabilation training center for indivdiuals with disabilities. I would like to know what is recommended to assist in preventing individuals that are low functioning from being targeted by peers with harmful intent? Many times an incident happens before the individuals comes forth to report the behavior.
1.  Linda Crowell
 I agree education is the key. However, this is difficult when the individuals being targeted are befriended by the threatening individual(s) bc they often get confused.
2.  Patti Agatston
 Individuals with disabilities need to be educated about what bullying is so that they can recognize when they are being targeted. Having a group discussion about bullying with simple examples would be helpful. They need to know who to report bullying to in various situations. Student volunteers/peer helpers who work with children who have disabilities can also be a protective support system. Many high schools have such groups.
Are there legal standards that define bullying?
1.  Sue Limber
 Bullying is defined in many different ways in the various state laws that address bullying (and sometimes it is not defined at all). There is no single legal definition, so I suggest you check on language within your own state's statute, if there is one. Visit www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov to see a map indicating which states currently have laws addressing bullying.
Are there any free resources/online links you can suggest for working with middle school students and informing them about the social and legal implications of cyber bullying?
1.  Patti Agatston
 The stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov site has animated webisodes that can spur discussion of cyber bullying. Our website, www.cyberbullyhelp.com has a lesson plan entitled, Olivia's Letters that can be used to discuss bullying and cyber bullying. www.netsmartz.org has good information as well.
How prevalent is bullying in elementary schools?
1.  Sue Limber
 We're lacking in nationally representative studies of the elementary school population. National statistics for 6th-10th graders indicate that 19 have bullied others sometimes or more often during a school term and 17 have been bullied sometimes or more often during a school term. Most research on elementary grades find even higher rates of bullying. Specific percentages depend on the definitions of bullying, the time frame used, etc.
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