Subject: strictly fyi: action item, help needed, bullying & victimization, online course
From: "Reis, Beth" <>
Date: 11/4/2011 8:52 AM

Dear Safe Schools Coalition Members and Friends:
(1) ACTION ITEM: Film a Letter, Make it Better
(2) HELP NEEDED: with 2 surveys to Help Improve the Lives of Trans People
(3) Critical Issue Brief: Addressing the Gendered Dimensions of Harassment and Bullying: What domestic and sexual violence advocates need to know
(4) Online graduate level GLBTQ studies course for teachers
(5) The National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention recently released a study on Bullying Prevention and State Laws
(6) National Center for Education Statistics Releases Report on Student Victimization in U.S. Schools
(1) ACTION ITEM: Film a Letter, Make it Better
When a principal in Tennessee not only blocked the formation of a GSA, but assaulted a student for supporting the club, GSA Network took action. The GSA Network is following up on their 90,000-person petition by taking our message national: Film a letter to all principals in America telling them why they MUST support Gay-Straight Alliance clubs!
Click here to check out the letter that amazing NorCal GSA activists Ray & Alex filmed for all principals and then film your own letter or write a letter to your former high school principal here.
(2) HELP NEEDED: with 2 surveys to Help Improve the Lives of Trans People
FORGE is a Milwaukee-based, progressive organization whose mission is to support, educate and advocate for the rights and lives of transgender individuals and SOFFAs (Significant Others, Friends, Family, and Allies). Forge is asking for your help!  
They are looking for feedback and information from trans people and their loved onesBy taking this survey, you will improve the way mainstream providers work with trans+ people and loved ones.
Forge is also looking for feedback and information from sexual assault advocates and therapistsAnswering this survey will help FORGE develop more effective training and technical assistance strategies for DV/SA agencies to better serve transgender survivors
Click here for more information and to take either survey:
(3) Critical Issue Brief: Addressing the Gendered Dimensions of Harassment and Bullying: What domestic and sexual violence advocates need to know
This Critical Issue Brief, authored by Nan D. Stein, Ed.D. & Kelly A. Mennemeier, B.A., was published October, 2011, jointly by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence & National Sexual Violence Resource Center. It introduces and discusses a recent policy memo from the U.S. Department of Education  that clarifies the distinctions between bullying and harassment and the priorities and responsibilities of school districts, explores the unintended consequences of ignoring the gendered dimensions of bullying and harassment in K-12 schools, and suggests helpful strategies for advocates collaborating with school personnel and students.
(4) Online graduate level GLBTQ studies course for teachers
GLBTQ Online High School is now offering a GLBTQ Studies course specifically for teachers. This is a great opportunity to learn about glbtq history, culture and politics with the opportunity to earn graduate credits from Hamline University. Great for California teachers looking for ways to meet the new lgbt history requirement! For more information, see
(5) The National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention recently released a study on Bullying Prevention and State Laws
Although school-related bullying has been a long-standing problem, the past decade has seen a dramatic shift in its public perception. Once viewed as a normal part of growing up or as a rite of passage, bullying is now being seen as a deeply harmful and unacceptable behavior that must be stopped and prevented. As a result, schools are now being required to accept professional and legal responsibility for taking the lead in our society to ensure that students will be safe to learn in bullying-free environments. To date, 47 states have passed bullying prevention legislation requiring schools to take leadership in addressing this problem.
Bullying has recently received unprecedented public attention due to highly publicized tragic cases of bullying-related suicides, graphic first-hand accounts and depictions of the bullying behavior in the media, and a growing public awareness of a relatively new form of bullyingcyber bullying. The first-ever White House Conference on Bullying was held on March 10, 2011, coinciding with the release of the updated resource website (White House, 2011). Research presented at this conference indicated that almost 30 percent of students in the United States are affected by bullying each month, (Bell & Spencer, 2006) and the potential negative effects of bullying are deep and long lasting. As identified by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, these effects can include the following:
-Lowered academic achievement and aspirations
-Increased anxiety
-Loss of self-esteem and confidence
-Depression and post-traumatic stress
-General deterioration in physical health
-Self-harm and suicidal thinking
-Feelings of alienation in the school environment, such as fear of other children
-Absenteeism from school
Bullying can happen in schools in any state, county, or district, and it affects students of all ages, beginning as early as preschool. According to the 2011 National Education Association’s Nationwide Study of Bullying, 43 percent of school staff surveyed reported that bullying was a moderate or major problem at their elementary or secondary school (Bradshaw et al., 2011).
In the early 2000s, an increased focus on school bullying and violence occurred due to several high-profile U.S. school shootings, including the most infamous one at Columbine High School. In nearly 75 percent of these school shooting events, the perpetrators reported that they felt “persecuted, bullied, or threatened by their school peers” (Limber & Small, 2003). These tragic events, in part, prompted legislation to address school climate and violence, including bullying prevention statutes. The first state to enact a bullying prevention law was Georgia in 1999. By 2003, 15 states had enacted laws to address school-related bullying. The development of legislation was a significant milestone in recognizing bullying as a distinct form of violence requiring individual attention and response.
Most of the original bullying prevention laws were incorporated into larger, pre-existing school safety plan mandates, although only 9 of the 15 states included a distinct definition and scope of bullying (Limber & Small, 2003). Most of these original laws focused solely on physical forms of aggression, ignoring more indirect acts, such as social exclusion. As part of a nationwide survey on school bullying prevention laws, researchers at Clemson University identified five common elements in state statutes existing in 2003: (Limber & Small, 2003)
1. A requirement or encouragement for administrators to develop a bullying prevention policy as part of a larger school safety plan
2. Encouragement for schools to implement bullying prevention programs
3. Inclusion of provisions for employee training on bullying prevention and/or model policies to address the unique identification and intervention needs of bullying prevention
4. A requirement or encouragement for individuals to report bullying to authorities
5. Inclusion of disciplinary action for perpetrators of bullying
Only West Virginia’s law addressed the importance of developing plans to protect the victims of bullying, and only two states included the need for improving communication among staff and students related to bullying (Limber & Small, 2003). Identifying these common trends was an encouraging development; however, it also became apparent that the state laws lacked cohesive policies across states, likely the result of just how new these types of policies were.
The years following this initial legislation saw an increase in state and federal attention to bullying prevention. By 2007, 35 states had passed school-related bullying prevention legislation. Many of these laws were increasingly more comprehensive in scope; however, states still differed in how they defined bullying. Many states continued to include bullying prevention policies as part of general harassment and school safety protocols (Srabstein et al., 2008). Some changes included 21 states recognizing that bullying can have serious health consequences and 24 states encouraging local school boards to develop bullying prevention programs, highlighting the important connection between bullying and school climate (Srabstein et al., 2008 & Bradshaw et al., 2011).
Current View of State Legislation
Currently, 47 states have bullying prevention laws; the exceptions are Michigan, Montana, and South Dakota. School districts in these states are nevertheless also responsible for preventing and responding to bullying incidents. The past few years have seen an increase in bullying-related lawsuits. Many of these cases are based on a school’s alleged failure to appropriately respond to reports of bullying when the school had a bullying prevention policy in place. The Massachusetts Department of Education has created a guiding document addressing what elements should be included in a comprehensive bullying prevention policy, available at
A recent legislative trend has been for state laws to include statutory due dates for policy development and enactment., and another increasingly common element found in state legislation is the requirement of having a bullying prevention program in place to contribute to the school’s prevention and intervention plan, and some states specify that the program must be evidence based. This component can be challenging since most states have not appropriated specific funds for the implementation and evaluation of bullying prevention programs. SS/HS initiatives are well positioned to include a bullying prevention program in their school’s overall plan.
In addition to programming components, state laws increasingly specify reporting standards for bullying incidents. In fact, both Iowa and Ohio require an annual tally and public reporting of all bullying incidents. If your SS/HS site has a similar requirement, your communications specialist may be helpful in framing communication with parents, staff, and community partners about reported bullying instances. The laws in several states (e.g., Georgia and Massachusetts) specify that schools need to provide ways to make anonymous reports available, such as a tip line or a texting service. Under some statutes, teachers and other adults can be considered mandatory reporters for bullying. In Mississippi, for example, the law states that school staff “shall” report bullying, while adult volunteers “should” report these incidents. No current laws penalize student bystanders for not stepping in. Given the positive impact that student bystanders can have, this may be an important area to promote as part of your SS/HS programming (Storey et al., 2008).
It is important for schools to create not only effective methods for reporting but also a climate in which students feel comfortable reporting bullying incidents. A 2007 survey, administered by the Regional Education Laboratory Northeast and Islands at Education Development Center, Inc., found that 64 percent of students surveyed replied that bullying incidents were most likely not reported (Education Development Center, 2010). Levels of reporting differed based on the type of bullying. Bullying was more likely to be reported when it included “injury, physical threats, destruction of property, physical contact, greater frequency, multiple types, more than one location, or at least one occurrence on a school bus” (Education Development Center, 2010). These results coincide with those of the 2011 National Education Association’s Nationwide Study of Bullying, which found a divide between how students and school staff viewed bullying, thus creating a disincentive for students to report bullying if they felt that the staff would not appropriately handle the situation (Bradshaw et al., 2011). Taken together, these findings highlight the importance of school wide training and education programs for staff. In fact, the most effective bullying prevention programs include multi-level, whole-school, and community components (Bradshaw et al., 2011). Programs of this type are aligned with the overarching goals of SS/HS and reflect how SS/HS sites are well positioned for this work.
Other important recent legislative trends include the addition of specific provisions for (a) cyber bullying; (b) lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) students; and (c) students with disabilities. The Kansas law includes a specific definition of cyber bullying to mean “bullying by use of any electronic communication device through means including, but not limited to, e-mail, instant messaging, text messages, blogs, mobile phones, pagers, online games and websites” (Ryerson, 2011). Oregon, for example, recently added a cyber bullying mandate as part of its state law. On April 26, 2010, the Oregon senate unanimously voted to support a bill that requires school staff to report instances of cyber bullying (Melton, 2011).
According to the 2011 National Education Association’s Nationwide Study of Bullying, staff was generally least comfortable addressing bullying related to sexual orientation, highlighting the need for school districts to create policies that address bullying targeted at LGBTQ students (Bradshaw et al., 2011). This is especially important given that LGBTQ students have been shown to be at a higher risk for bullying. The California legislature recently addressed this issue by introducing a bill that requires school districts to “increase anti-bullying efforts, provide a system to make sure reports are addressed immediately, and to create anti-harassment policies and programs that include bullying based on perceived or actual sexual orientation, if they don’t already exist” (Tucker, 2011).
Research has also shown that students with disabilities are two to three times more likely than students without disabilities to be victims of bullying, and the bullying they experience is more chronic in nature and usually directly related to their disability (Bell & Spencer, 2006). Some studies have found that 60 percent of students with special needs report being bullied (Ability Path, 2011). Massachusetts recently included a provision in its state law requiring schools to have a plan in place to “address the skills and proficiencies needed to avoid and respond to bullying, harassment or teasing” of any student with an Individualized Education Program (Ryerson, 2011).
As anti-bullying efforts continue to play an increasing role in schools time and legal responsibilities, it is important to be educated about what the laws state and how your school can be best prepared to properly address any bullying incidents that occur as well as to prevent bullying from happening.
For the complete Prevention Brief on this topic, please visit:
SOURCE: The National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention, October 2011Newsletter
(6) National Center for Education Statistics Releases Report on Student Victimization in U.S. Schools
In the 200809 school year, about 3.9 percent of students ages 12 through 18 reported that they were victims of a crime at school according to a report released by the National Center for Education Statistics. Data are collected on student criminal victimization through its sponsorship of the School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, administered by the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. The survey collects student reports of the presence of gangs and weapons and the availability of drugs and alcohol at school, traditional and electronic bullying, and fear and avoidance behaviors of crime victims and nonvictims at school.
Other findings include:
About 2.8 percent of students ages 12 through 18 reported being victims of theft, 1.4 percent of students reported a violent victimization, and 0.3 percent of students reported a serious violent victimization.
A larger percentage of males were victims of any crime at school (4.6 percent) than were females (3.2 percent).
Higher percentages of students who reported any criminal victimization at school reported they were also the targets of traditional (63.5 percent) and electronic (19.8 percent) bullying than were student non-victims (26.6 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively).
The percentage of student victims of violent crimes who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school (22.7 percent) was higher than that of student non victims of violent crime (3.9 percent).
To view the full report, please visit
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