Thursday, October 28, 2004

VA Director, Adrianna, on the Anti Bullying trail!

This email came in from the Bully Police - Virginia Director, Adrianna Sgarlata. Rob Bell is a State Rep from Virginia.
This is an update on our meeting with Rob Bell.
First of all, thanks for the introduction to Rob Bell. We presented him with pictures and stories from our website and surveys and discussions with parents, and we provided him with a hard copy of a thick 3 ring binder book that we put together with tons of great resources and reference material on bullying prevention (from the Bully Police USA website.)
Surprisingly, he wanted to go into a lot of depth on what we brought to him, asking tons of questions - and I believe we were wonderfully prepared, thanks to all the legwork, research and support of our Bully Police USA founder, Brenda High.
Then we discussed the possibility of his sponsoring a bullying prevention bill this year.
The meeting started off somewhat "guarded", as he is approached by one interest group after another all day long, but by the end of our 45 minute meeting, he had completely changed around to agreeing to make this his #2 priority (he had a "small" bill he said he'd already begun working on, and that it shouldn't take very much to finish it up, and then this would become his NUMBER #1 PRIORITY for "researching" and then drafting a bill.
WOW - could have knocked me off the chair with a feather!!!
We went from one of dozens of possible "causes", or bills, to the top of the pile, all in a 45 minute meeting. (That also shocked me - I thought we'd get about 15 minutes max). At any rate, seems this topic is very near and dear to his heart and I believe your efforts and meetings with Rob laid some great groundwork, such that he was already somewhat pre-disposed to proceeding. (I feel badly that it takes a child who nearly commits suicide to get this far, but now that we're getting closer, at least it won't all be in vain).
Plus he felt more confident, I believe, that he could back up his position this time around because of the depth of research we submitted to him, including the info on the website. He didn't know there was a clearinghouse of info for all 50 States on bullying prevention and laws etc. We also gave him a letter from an elementary school principal who we are working with who has begun a school wide bullying prevention program. She provided some wonderful statistics:
She has implemented the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program at her school and got 5 other elementary schools in her "cluster" to do likewise. Of their 9000+ students in those schools, 2395 students in grades 3-10 answered the 36 questions on the bullying survey. Pyramid wide here are some of their findings:
. 21 % of students reported they are bullied 1-4 times per month
. 15% reported that when they are bullied it is in the cafeteria
. 19.4% said that teachers or other adults do not intervene when they
know or hear about a bullying incident
. 33.5% reported they would never interfere if they witnessed another
peer being bullied
. 10% of the student who are getting bullied, also reported they hate
Rob Bell said he wouldn't normally consider drafting a bill until December, but he felt it was sufficiently critical enough such that he'd do his research NOW, so that if he decided he couldn't handle it himself, we could "shop" for another bill sponsor.
He also mentioned the autonomy of Virginia School Districts and the resistance he expects to get from Educator groups. (Actually, many STATES are the same). Not at all sure how to overcome this one. We're cc:ing Brenda and maybe she or someone in Bully Police has experience overcoming this issue.
With all of our efforts, working together, I believe this just could become the year for a bullying prevention law in Virginia. It's about time.
Thanks again,
Adrianna Sgarlata
Virginia Director
Bully Police USA

Joseph Sgarlata
Research Director

PS: "Champions Against Bullying" has me (Adrianna Sgarlata) featured in their newsletter this month at: - login is "adrianna" and password is "adrianna" just til Nov 1 so go there now. See article under "Our Champion". There is a misspelling of my name under my picture that we hope to get corrected but other than that it is a great article.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Conference Call Nov 9th

A conference call has been arraigned on November 9 at 9:00 PM Eastern time (8: PM Central, 7: PM MST, 6: PM PST) on the topic - How to get an Anti Bullying Law passed in your State, or How to make a difference for kids who have been or are bullied. It will be about an hour long. If your State already has a law, we still invite you to our Conference call because many school districts are not obeying their state law. We will teach you how to work with those school districts, helping them to obey the law. We will also have a chance to meet others around the USA who are trying to make a difference in their schools and State.

I have received confirmation, yes or no, from several people (Brenda S. IL; Libby G. ME; Jan B. CA; Marc J. MO; Renee O. MA; Maureen B. IL; Anna MO; Kathy F. FL; Donna F AZ; Officer Alessandra N. OH; Elizabeth B. CA/SC; Tamatha B. KS; Cathy S. OK; & Stan P. NV). I have only sent out the this invitation to a fraction of my email list because I wanted to give parents and activists who are passionate about solving the bullying plague first dibs. By the middle of next week, I will invite some educators and media who have shown an interest in anti bullying laws.

There must be an RSVP if you are interested at

The cost will be your normal long-distance rate, plus the investment of one hour of your time.

This is the time of year that lawmakers start putting together laws. As soon as the election is over, we need to start bugging our lawmakers to move forward for the protection of bullied and abused kids.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Brenda High
Director, Bully Police USA

Monday, October 18, 2004

Possible New Fed. Anti Bullying Law

Information from Joseph Sgarlata about HR 4776

VOTE below: (Brenda – this is what everyone in your database should be doing – VOTING using this form – post this on the blog)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Bully Police USA

Bully Police USA is making a difference. After talking to Les Shields, a School Board Member in Iowa, about a sexual orientation clause, which I oppose, he made a motion to create an anti bullying policy from Kennewick WA, which is posted on the website.

Here is the first message:

Mrs. High,
Thank you for taking the time to call and provide your insight into the issue in Clinton, Iowa to include the words sexual orientation in our school district discrimination policies. I'm sorry that I was not at home to speak to you personally, however my wife Joanne took excellent notes of your conversation. I have spent considerable time researching your web site and the links therein.
As an interesting aside, in a letter dated Sept. 28th, the Iowa Association of School Boards announced to all Iowa districts that they were refusing to take action on a recommendation to include sexual orientation as a separate and unique protected class. The Association position was that bullying, harassment, intimidation, and discrimination against any student should be prohibited.
I thought you might be interested to see where your comments and advice has taken me in this debate. Comments and insights from your web site are liberally included and annotated. The policy I will propose is from the Kennewick, Washington School District as posted on your web site. Below is a cut and paste of my prepared comments for the next School Board meeting. That meeting is tonight, Monday 10/11/2004 at 7:00 PM CDT. I will let you know how this turns out.
Les Shields, Board Member
Clinton Community School District

One of the basic concepts of a representative democracy is that we elect people to public office to represent our majority opinions. That being the case, the comments I have received over the last couple of weeks are running about 30 to 1 in support of my opinion. One can only hope that the rest of the Board has heard from many of our constituents just like I have, and more importantly, that we have listened to them.
Our Administrative staff needs policies from this Board that clearly describes acts of discrimination, bullying, harassment, and intimidation that our District will not condone. This does not require a new category of victim. There is no valid reason why a particular group needs to be identified before we can protect them from discrimination, bullying, harassment, and intimidation. I want these protections for all of our students. I had hoped this Board's action last year in approving an anti-bullying policy, as recommended by the national Safe Schools Initiative, was instructive in this area. As you may recall, the Safe Schools Initiative was the result of a study about school violence all over the country, most notably the Columbine High School incident. Following is a short summary of just a few of those incidents which prompted the Safe Schools Initiative.
School shooters: Secret service findings
October 15, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
James Alan Kearbey, 14, Goddard, Kan., Jan. 21, 1985. Killed the principal and three others in his junior high school. Said he was bullied and beaten by students for years.
Nathan Faris,12, DeKalb, Mo., March 2, 1987. Teased about his chubbiness, Nathan shot a classmate, then shot himself to death.
Toby Sincino, 16, Blackville, S.C., Oct. 12, 1995. Toby was picked on by students. A week before the shooting, he had been suspended for making an obscene gesture. He shot and wounded a math teacher, killed another math teacher, then killed himself. (Personal research revealed the bullying was because of his height – less than 5 feet tall)
Barry Loukaitis,14, Moses Lake, Wash., Feb. 2, 1996. Walked into algebra class with a hunting rifle, two handguns and 78 rounds of ammunition. Killed the teacher and two students, wounded a third. One of the students killed had teased him. (Barry: "Some day people are going to regret teasing me.")
Joseph "Colt" Todd,14, Stamps, Ark., Dec. 15, 1997. Shot two students. Said he was humiliated by teasing.
Eric Harris,17, and Dylan Klebold, 18, near Littleton, Colo., April 20, 1999. The pair killed 12 students and one teacher, wounded 23 students, and killed themselves.
"I just remember life not being much fun," a shooter recalls. "Reject, retard, loser. I remember `stick boy' a lot, 'cause I was so thin."
(End of Chicago Sun Times reference)
(These six incidents total 24 dead and 28 wounded)
None of these incidents were about race, color, gender, marital status, national origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. So you see, the proposal before us tonight does nothing to end the discrimination, serious bullying, harassment, and intimidation issues in our schools like what happened in the incidents I summarized here. Unfortunately, there are many more incidents like these, but not enough time in this meeting to summarize them all. It has been the statement of several Board Members that this debate is about creating a safe learning environment for ALL of our students. I would also like to publicly state that I stand with you on that issue. But the proposed policy amendment before us tonight does not accomplish that goal. What does accomplish a safe learning environment for ALL of our students is a stronger policy, with clearer definitions and procedures for addressing discrimination, bullying, harassment, and intimidation against any student and for any reason.
This debate in Clinton, Iowa has been heard coast to coast. The Clinton Herald website has a Reader's Comment from Massachusetts that attacks my earlier comments on this issue. On the other side of the U.S., I have heard from a woman in the state of Washington who supported my comments, and whose teenage son committed suicide in 1998 because of bullying at school. This woman has taken on the cause of stopping bullying, and on her website are posted several model anti-bullying policies. I will be presenting a model policy to the community and this Board tonight, and ask that the Board direct our Administration to begin the process to write this into our school district policies.
The website rates Iowa as receiving an F in addressing bullying, both from the state level and from school district level policies. I can not think of one reason why Clinton Community Schools should not be a leader in this State in stopping discrimination, bullying, harassment, and intimidation for ANY reason.
Defining the victim is like defining a particular leaf on a tree. Discrimination, bullying, harassment, and intimidation originate in the root, not in the leaf. I prefer to attack the root problem, rather than identifying individual leaves.
For these reasons, I will move to amend the current motion by striking the words "sexual orientation" and insert the words "or for any other reason". Robert's Rules of Order prohibit me from making another motion at this time. Immediately following the Board vote on the motion before us, I will follow this with a presentation to the Board and community of a new anti-discrimination, bullying, harassment, and intimidation policy, and a motion to direct Administration to prepare and present to the Board a new and stronger anti-bullying policy.
I do not condone discrimination, bullying, harassment, or intimidation against any student. But our policies MUST protect all students. Our actions need to clearly spell out our position that we desire to protect all students, which is not done by identifying another sub-group, especially one that is objectionable to the majority of our voters. No one has objections to the sub-groups as identified in our current policies. In most of these cases, I suspect the separate identifications are legally required. Such is not the case with sexual orientation as a unique sub-group.
In closing, I would like to address those of you in the audience, and those watching our meeting at home on television. In just a few minutes this Board is going to vote on the motion before us. I want each and every one of you to know, that regardless of how each Board Member votes tonight, every one of these Members have one overriding theme in mind. It is "What is best for our students?" When we leave this meeting tonight, we will still all be friends. I ask you to also accept the majority vote, no matter which way this vote goes.
Mr. President, I move to amend the motion by striking the words "sexual orientation" and after the word "disability" insert the words "or for any other reason".

Here is the 2nd message:

Mrs. High,
I trust you received my previous message containing the comments I had prepared for the Clinton Community Schools Board Meeting. I presented those comments during the discussion on the (previous) motion to include sexual orientation in our harassment policy. The motion passed 6 - 1 (I voted No).
The Board did unanimously agree to accept the proposed anti-bullying policy from Kennewick Schools that I presented. The policy was referred to our administration, with a plan to discuss it at our Committee of the Whole meeting the end of this month, and for Administration to report back with a proposal no later than our December meeting. I am hopeful that Clinton Community Schools will be the first district in Iowa to receive better than an F from your organization.
Thanks again for your support and advice.
Les Shields, Board Member
Clinton Community Schools
Clinton, Iowa

Another note from Brenda

I totally agree - All children need to be protected from bullies and no victim of a bully is more important than another. To define victims is wrong because any child can be victimized by a bully. We must stop the bully from bullying - thus we stop their targets from becoming victims.