New ‘bullyproof’ initiative by ABA Young Lawyers

A songwriter and producer for the Black Eyed Peas is supporting a new anti-bullying initiative by the ABA Young Lawyers Division.

The one-year public service project to prevent bullying is called “bullyproof,” according to a press release.

Songwriter and musician Printz Board narrates a YLD video that also includes clips of President Barack Obama discussing the issue. Among those who confess on the video to being bullied as a child are Vice President Biden, who says he was ridiculed for a stuttering problem, and YLD chair Mario Sullivan, who says he was “taunted and teased” because he wasn’t like everyone else. “So I did think about suicide,” Sullivan says, and he came close to taking his own life.

According to the video, victims of bullying are up to nine times more likely to think about suicide.

The bullyproof initiative has three pillars. They are:

• Outreach: Going to schools to talk about the problem with administrators, teachers and students.

• Programming: Posting information on the YLD website to help lawyers who are representing schools, students or bullies.

• Best practices: Tools and materials to help young lawyers lobby for laws and policies that help fight bullying in schools and cyberbullying.

No name-calling week coming up at end of month

Barnes & Noble and GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, have joined together to combat bullying.  Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest bookseller, has become an official partner of No Name-Calling Week, presented by Cisco. The eighth annual No Name-Calling Week will take place in thousands of schools across the country on Jan. 24-28. Barnes & Noble also declared that January will be No Name-Calling Month in its stores and online.

“We are excited to work with Barnes & Noble, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Cisco and all of our more than 50 participating organizations to make this the most successful No Name-Calling Week yet,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “As the world’s largest bookseller, Barnes & Noble recognizes the opportunity it has to make a difference in young people’s lives, and we applaud the company for spreading the message of respect throughout its stores and online presences.”

“Bringing awareness to the seriousness and severity of name-calling, teasing, bullying and cyber bullying is very important to Barnes & Noble. We’re pleased to be partnering with Simon & Schuster and GLSEN for such an important effort,” said Mary Amicucci, vice president of Children’s Books for Barnes & Noble.

Barnes & Noble has planned the following activities for January:

  • All Barnes & Noble stores will host a national story time event on Jan. 15 at 11 a.m.
  • Jan. 15-23 will be Barnes & Noble Educator Appreciation Week, during which stores will have No Name-Calling Week materials available for teachers and educators, including book recommendations, tip sheets for organizing No Name-Calling Week events, lesson plans for elementary and middle school students, classroom posters and buttons.
  • Several GLSEN Chapters – Orange County, Phoenix, Rochester, Southeast Michigan and Tampa, and more to be announced – will participate in in-store panel discussions during the week of Jan. 15-23.
  • Barnes & ( will feature exclusive video content from bestselling children’s, young adult and adult authors discussing their thoughts and experiences on bullying.
  • Exclusive No Name-Calling articles by James Howe and Jodi Picoult will be featured in the January line-up of the More In Store program available on NOOK, the Barnes & Noble eBook Reader.

No Name-Calling Week, created by GLSEN and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing in 2004, is an annual week of educational and creative activities designed to end name-calling of all kinds, with lessons and activities for elementary, middle and high schools. The week was inspired by the young adult novel “The Misfits” and is presented in collaboration with more than 50 national education and youth service organizations, including the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the National School Boards Association and the National Education Association.

Hundreds of thousands of students have participated in No Name-Calling Week, which is made possible, in larger part, thanks to a grant from Cisco. This is the sixth year Cisco has supported the program.  Click here to learn more about this anti-bullying initiative and to explore the collection of related books, videos and other resources. Or stop in to your local B&N to check out the No Name Calling display.

Extreme Makeover delivers anti-bullying message

Last night’s episode of ABC’s Extreme Makeoverdelivered a strong anti-bullying message, and made a new home for the Walker family of Springfield, Massachusetts.  Ty Pennington and the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” design team traveled to Springfield to surprise the Walker family and change their lives.

Franklin students with Extreme Makeover host Ty Pennington on the set in Springfield, MA.

On April 6th, 2009, 11-year-old Carl Walker took his own life.  Carl had told his mother, Sirdeaner Walker, about incidents of being bullied at school.  Since his tragic death, the family have focused their energies on trying to help others by lobbying for new state and federal laws against bullying.

The Walker house was a living memory of the most horrific night in this family’s life. The 3rd floor is where Carl took his own life, and as a result, the family couldn’t bear the sadness of that floor.  For years Sirdeaner and her two children slept in the living room, on a couch and two rollaway beds.  The grandmother, who also lives with them, couldn’t access the 2nd floor at all, as the stairs were impossible for her.  The house itself was over 100 years old and in serious disrepair, with myriad structural, plumbing and electrical problems.

In seven days the “EM:HE” design team built a brand new home for the Walker family, a new facility that meets their current needs and also honors Carl in a positive way without the haunting memories of the 3rd floor.  The team led by Ty Pennington, designers Michael Moloney, Tracy Hutson, Jillian Harris, John Littlefield and local builders N. Riley Construction, Inc., joined community volunteers (including some students from Franklin) to build the house.  At the same time, they built an organization to “stand together” in the fight against bullying.

It was a moving piece with a positive outcome based on a tragic story.  If you missed it on TV, take the opportunity to watch it online by clicking here.

Franklin school featured in bullying report

WBUR radio, Boston’s NPR news station, visited the Annie Sullivan Middle School in Franklin to gauge the impact of the state’s bullying legislation. They learned that Principal Beth Wittcoff expects folks at Sullivan Middle to take action when they witness such things as snickering or teasing, which psychologists call “gateway behaviors” that can precede bullying.

It’s one new element of the respectful community Wittcoff said she’s always tried to foster for her students, through assemblies, clubs and communication.

“They need to feel safe in order to learn,” Wittcoff said. But, she adds, only since the new law passed has she deliberately focused those efforts on bullying prevention.

The full WBUR report can be found by clicking here. You can listen to the radio broadcast by clicking here.

The Bully Project, a year in the life of America’s bullying crisis

This year over 18 million American kids will be bullied, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the U.S. The Bully Project film is a new feature-length documentary that follows “a year in the life” of America’s bullying crisis, and offers an intimate look at how bullying has touched the lives of five kids and their families.

With the film at its center, The Bully Project is a grassroots movement to educate and empower kids, parents, teachers and all school staff, to build stronger communities where empathy and respect rule.  You can learn more about the project by clicking here.  You can view the films trailer by clicking on the image below:

Cyberbullying event documents

Below is a list of documents that will be part of the cyberbullying program on Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 7 p.m. at Dean College.  You can view and download the documents by clicking on the title below.  Alternatively, the documents are available for viewing by clicking on the image below.

Teen Cybersafety Guide – What You Should Do

Teen Cybersafety Guide – What CAN I Do

Teen Cybersafety Guide – Don’t Be Stupid

Teen Cybersafety Guide – CyberRomance, Sexting and Sexing

Teen Cybersafety Guide – Cyberharassment, Cyberstalking and Cyberbullying

Teen Cybersafety Guide – Confiding in Strangers and Who Knows More

Cyberbullying program addresses online hazards

“It is difficult enough to support one’s child through a siege of schoolyard bullying. But the lawlessness of the Internet, its potential for casual, breathtaking cruelty, and its capacity to cloak a bully’s identity all present slippery new challenges to this transitional generation of analog parents.”

That’s the gist of an article on cyberbullying from the December 4, 2010 New York Times.  You can read the full story by clicking here.

One of the person’s featured in the article is Parry Aftab, a lawyer and expert on cyberbullying.  She will be at Dean College in Franklin on Thursday, December 9, 2010 to present a program on cyberbullying.  Details about the program can be found in the flyer below or by clicking here.

Rep. James Vallee will kick off the program which is sponsored by the Franklin WiredTeens Club, Franklin Community Health Council, and the Franklin Anti-Bullying Task Force.

If you are interesting in learning more about cyberbullying and ways to prevent it from harming your child, attend the program on Thursday night.

Bullying leaves indelible imprint on a teen’s brain

A new wave of research into bullying’s effects is now suggesting that bullying can leave an indelible imprint on a teen’s brain at a time when it is still growing and developing. Being ostracized by one’s peers, it seems, can throw adolescent hormones even further out of whack, lead to reduced connectivity in the brain, and even sabotage the growth of new neurons.

The research is reported in a Boston Globe article which can be viewed by clicking here.

As reported in the Globe aticle, these neurological scars, it turns out, closely resemble those borne by children who are physically and sexually abused in early childhood.

This change in perspective could have all sorts of ripple effects for parents, kids, and schools; it offers a new way to think about the pain suffered by ostracized kids, and could spur new antibullying policies. It offers the prospect that peer harassment, much like abuse and other traumatic experiences, may increasingly be seen as a medical problem — one that can be measured with brain scans, and which may yield to new kinds of clinical treatment.

Click here to read the full Globe story.

Public comments wanted on bullying plan

In accordance with Massachusetts new anti-bullying law, the Franklin School Committee is seeking public comments on its proposed Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan. The plan will be discussed at the next meeting on Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 7:00 PM.

In addition to the public discussion, the committee is soliciting written comments by e-mail or letter.  For e-mails, please send your comments to:  For letters, please send your comments to:  Franklin School Committee, 355 East Central Street, Franklin, MA 02038.

The public comment period will be open through Thursday, December 9, 2010. The plan will be finalized and voted on at the December 14, 2010 school committee meeting.

Click on the document below to read and review the proposed plan.  If you have trouble viewing documents on Scribd or would like to download a pdf directly, then click here.  Otherwise, you can view the plan below.

You can view more about the plan and the work of Franklin’s anti-bullying task force by clicking here.

President Obama delivers message to bully victims

President Obama posted a video this week telling victims of bullying that it will get better.  The president speaks directly to the camera saying, “I don’t know what it’s like to be picked on for being gay, but I do know what it’s like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don’t belong.” The president calls for an end to the bullying-as-right-of-passage attitude and tells young people that “things will get better.”

You can view the video by clicking on the image below or clicking here.  The full transcript of his remarks are available by clicking here.