Saturday, November 06, 2010

Government warns schools that bullying can violate civil rights laws

Washington (CNN) -- Bullying and harassment in schools often includes violations of federally protected civil rights, the federal government warned Tuesday in new guidelines for educators on how to address the problem.

If school administrators fail to properly deal with harassment based on gender, race or other issues, they risk being cited for contributing to a pattern of civil rights violations that could, in extreme cases, lead to a cut in federal funding, according to top officials who spoke to reporters on a conference call about the new guidelines.

"In extreme cases, schools could be stripped of their federal education monies if they don't comply with all of our civil rights laws," said Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights. Also on the call were Arne Duncan, secretary of education, and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes.

The issue of harassment gained prominence this year after a spate of suicides by students who were being bullied. President Obama has called for greater awareness of the problem, saying the nation must "dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up."

The guidelines were part of a letter that began "Dear Colleague" sent Tuesday to thousands of schools, colleges, universities and school districts around the country that included examples of bullying and harassment cases that constituted violations of federal civil rights laws.

In addition, the government said the White House will host a conference next year on preventing bullying and harassment, building on efforts by Duncan's department and other agencies.

In August, the Obama administration hosted the first National Bullying Summit and launched a national campaign against bullying.

Ali said the government proposed $410 million in fiscal year 2011 spending for "successful, safe and healthy students," a 12 percent increase over 2010.

In a statement Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the new government guidelines for making clear that most religious, gender and sexual harassment comes under federal civil rights prohibitions, but it called for expanding the federal law to eliminate any doubt.

"Though the guidance goes far under current law, it does not replace having a federal statute that explicitly protects" lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, said Laura Murphy, the director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office.

Murphy called for Congress to pass the Student Non-Discrimination Act, a bill pending in the House and Senate that the ACLU said would guarantee that homosexual and transgender students are explicitly protected from harassment and discrimination under federal law.

The issue of harassment gained prominence this year after a spate of suicides by students who were being bullied. President Obama has called for greater awareness of the problem, saying the nation must "dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up."

The guidelines were part of a letter that began "Dear Colleague" sent Tuesday to thousands of schools, colleges, universities and school districts around the country that included examples of bullying and harassment cases that constituted violations of federal civil rights laws.

Story found at


Raven said...

My children are bullied nearly every day. My 11 yr old daughter was sexually assaulted on the school bus and her twin brother has been beaten up and is harrassed daily. We have complained and all we have heard fromt he school superintendant is "it wasn't violent enough" or "important enough" and they would take no action. I have written to Governor Purdue of NC and to no avail and have gotten no response. SO do I believe anything really will improve or change or teachers even care. I think not.I think it is all talk anymore and just a way to sell papers or get ratings. Lets see Obama really care when my children end up either raped or dead due to someone in that school. Rockingham, NC Richmond County school and Dr.Beck and Dr. Norris could care less about our children in my opinion. I even went so far to call our new local Representative Mr Ken Goodman that was on the BOE till he got elected last month. And got the same brush off. I think it is the norm to except an 11 yr old girl to be sexually assaulted and no one here does a thing. Let just see how the police dept handle it. We meet with them AGAIN tomorrow!

Raven said...

Here we go again. I have been told because I made a police report that the school will no longer allow me on the school campus and Governor Perdue is just brushing it off. I got a response from her office telling to take the same steps I previously told her I took. I had done this before even getting to the point it has. Now my daughter has once again was "slapped on her buttocks" by another student and the bus driver seen it. When this happened and we tried to file a report the Asst. Superintendant of Schools told us he wanted to speak to my child. When i allowed this they had his secretary in the room that stated "Why do you think he smacked your butt? Dont you think her likes you?" WTHeck is that? Of course he does but it does not mean he can touch her in a sexual manner. I am sick of this being brushed under the rug and now their comment from the school district is why dont you people move back to NY? I am appalled this is getting worse and worse and nothing will be done until it is something seen on the National News.

Disavowed Mother said...

I am presently dealing with a bullying issue with Fork Union Military Academy. It is my opinion that because these instances involve children of powerful people that they are being swept under the rug. I have started a blog about the ordeal.

Disavowed Mother

Raven said...

I once again had another incident with my son being bullied and when I called the school the principle and the assistant princile literally laughed at me. THIS is what is suppose to teach the children morals and respect. They need to learn it themself. "Disavowed Mother" I will be folling your blog and keep your children in my thought and hope they have a Peaceful time in school. We obviously can't count on the people who are suppose to be there to guide them. Your absolutly right I believe in the fact it is a who you know in this area. I was appalled when I told them yesterday if my son kills himself due to this it will be the fault of the school and THEY LAUGHED! I dont know how they live with themselves. The Governor may have made a law but as the lawyer we consulted who researched it found out, there is NO provision in the law as to WHO is to enforce this. It is only words on paper at this point that mean nothing. I requested from the Governors office to clarify it and tell me who will enforce this and no response. Says to me she dont have my vote or the other 4 voting adults in my house ever again. If children are not her concern as she said in her campaign then she can count us off the list of who helped her before. Thank you Disavowed for helping getting the word out.

Donna said...


How are things going with your kids? I'm dealing with a bullying case w/my 16 y/o daughter also in Ohio.

Raven said...

Things don't change but thankfully they have been strong.It means alot you asked. My children still come home with the horror stories but we just keep plugging through. my illness has taken a toll this last week so it has been a bit tougher but hopefully I will be more on top of my game in a few days. I have to for them. Donna it is sad to hear a young woman at such a stage in life having to deal with that. I too went through it back when I was her age. It effected my life forever in many ways. Tell her to be strong and stand up for what she believes in. We can only hope someday people will take these situation seriously. the case I went to as a child has made unbelievable strides in Western NY. The school board admitted the problem and attemted to deal with it although I think the consequences could have been harsher. I think the reason they had to act was the mother of the child being bullied was a teacher in the district. I got your email and would love to give your daughter some confidence through things I may be able to help you with. As parents of children dealing with such horrible situations we need to stick together and demand accountability. I doubt it will happen in my case as I feel like I am living in a town who has decided not to come into the 21st century. Thank you for asking. It is nice to know people do read these and care.

Raven said...

That should say "The school I went to as a child in Western NY"... not "the case" ...sorry for the typo.

Andrea said...

What happens when the bullies are the teachers. My son is a middle school student who has been bullied by his teachers for 2 going on 3 years now. The school system turns a blind eye and deaf ear to the harassment my son is facing...anything from grade tampering to sarcastic and hurtful comments.
Our school system has worked to methodically avoid addressing this issue. But what does a child do when his teachers, who by definition have the power to carry out damage and or threats, harrass and bully an 11 year old?
Peer bullying is definitely a hot topic and has been for quite some time, but more and more students are speaking out across the country about being bullied by the adults in their school. Where's the law to address that?

Raven said...

They don't address it sorry to say. we had one of those incidents ourself, but it was after the first couple sever ones. We had a meeting the day after it happened and thankfully I am not such a nice woman when I have to be not so nice and I let her know if she felt compelled to do such(being it was the gym teacher), lets meet on the field, in the ring, or where ever she wanted to test her athletics and I would take on the challenge. WITH ONE CONDITION if she ever even spoke sideways to my son once again it wouldn''t be under such controlled conditions... Not a word since and I TOTALLY HATE having to resort to their standards but had enough and she was the gym teacher so lets do it like they would in a sport of her choice... ( Thank GOD I had 8 older brothers...LOL I do not recommend this to others though...
Tell your child we who write here think he is a kid who will make a difference in the world and someday will be able to help others in the same position he is in. It is unacceptable and those adults have no dignity and respect for themselves to act like that. We care!!!

Raven said...

Well School officials strike again! Another child in Mecklenberg county (charlotte NC) kills himself due to bullying... When will someone do something about this epidemic!!! Well Richland County has brought in a Drop out prevention co-ordinator.... what good will that do besides waste money if they dont deal with the bullies... are they that oblivious! Thier drop out rate will drop tremendously if bullies were dealt with. I actually had the school Superintendant Dr Norris state that is all just media hype and isnt realistic... WTF planet does this man live on!!!

brigette said...

I agree with everyone here still dealing with the bullying. No matter what we do or the steps we take to protect our children NO ONE CARES. Not any online group, not the teachers nor the administrators at the schools. Our children are expected to be punching bags and expected to shut up about it or they are labeled bully for standing up for themselves. My son has always had a problem with being bullied. He's the "big" kid and an easy target for others. It's to the point he has admitted to me he has thought about killing himself. My son is only 12 and thinks dying is the only way to stop this bullying towards him. He reports the bullying to his Asst Principal only to be told to go about his schedule and report if it happens again. The bully gets an admonishment and it's back to class. Last week my son suffered a fractured nose, bruised chest and busted lip and the school refused to call police and punished my son to the same as the boy that beat him because he defended himself by hitting back. I have been begging for help with this and no response. Our children seem to have NO rights. After all they are only punching bags not people. I am soooooooooo angry and upset. The laws are there but so vague as to give the school control over punishment. What about us in a small town where everyone knows each other and favortism is shown to the bullies because of friendships between the adults outside of school. Someone please help. Someone, somewhere has got to know where we can truly turn for help as parents.

kaydee said...

North Carolina's anti bullying law is not being enforced. I am also appalled that anti-bullying legislation doesn't include private schools. My experience with 2 "christian" schools, one catholic and the other quaker, has been that bullying is tolerated and if there is a complaint, retaliation most definitely occurs. Glad that there is a website such as this...wish it would push for the legislation to apply to all children, not just those in public schools.

Raven said...

Brigette, that is just horrible and I am too dealing with the same thing. It is going to take hundreds of deaths or funding to end or firing of mass amounts of teachers /or administration before they listen and this is so wrong. Where are the rights of our choldren and when will someone just enforce the laws that exist. I would get a lawyer cause police should have taken a report. I would take him to the police station and demand a report be put on file. To hell with the school. I feel your anger and I support your actions.

Kaydee... I too live in North Carolina and until this Governor enforces the law she "enacted" I will do everything to get votes from her. She doesnt care cause it doesnt effect her own children. I think this law was a joke and just a BS way for her to get votes cause it sure was one of the things that made me slide off the fence last time. Well I wont believe it again. I want to see action. This same old same old who knows who crap here has got to end. This is not 1955.

Raven said...

Our chikdren are victims not only of the bullies who beat, taughnt, and torture them but of the system that is suppose to protect them!!!!

Inspired Living said...

My son was also bullied and the principal refused to move him to a different classroom. We had to have outside help to get him moved. Eventually we got sick of him being bullied so we now homeschool him. Still, the kids in the neighborhood are bullies. There ought to be a bullying neighborhood watch as there is a crime watch.

Just today, another kid was bullied, but by a parent of another kid. She had her son tell this kid if he ever goes on the complex property again she's call the cops. He was only talking with his school buddies who were there and there is no warrant for him not to be there. I've come to conclude, when adults don't grow up, our children suffer. We have to look out for our children and our neighbor's children, too. We also should take the time to teach kids in our community in a non-threatening way, which otherwise teaches them to bully. Not doing so leads to further problems for our kids either directly or indirectly. I've heard it many times, it takes a community to raise up children.