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 www.BullyPolice.org 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
school
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
www.BullyPolice.org
1-866-848-1021

Joseph Sgarlata
Research Director
1-703-503-0207

PS: "Champions Against Bullying" has me (Adrianna Sgarlata) featured in their newsletter this month at:
http://www.championsagainstbullying.com/login.php - 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.

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