Cyber-bullying video from ABA

The campaign to stop cyber-bullying is properly getting attention in the media and many companies who have jointly produced a  video on the problem of cyber-bullying in schools. The cyber-bullying video below is the first in a series that the American Bar Association, Antitrust Section, through its Public Education Committee, produced to help high school students learn about the harmful effects of bullying. These videos are being funded in part by donations from American companies such as Microsoft Corporation and Time Warner Cable, Inc., and additional fundraising efforts are underway.

Editorial note (5/5/2011):  The original video was reworked after receiving criticism for showing a teen being bullied and deciding to take her life, while her three “mean girl” tormentors were hauled off by police.  The reworked video is shown below:

Emotional speech urging bullied young gays to persevere

A member of the bullying task force pointed out this clip from a Fort Worth, Texas City Council meeting from last week.  It is a very moving clip in which an openly gay councilman urges young people to seek help and to hang in there if they are being bullied due to their sexuality, as they don’t know now how wonderful their lives will turn out after high school.  His presentation was in response to the many gay related suicides lately.

In a heart-wrenching moment, the Councillor told of the bullying he endured as a teenager. “They said that I was a faggot and that I should die,” he said.   The harassment drove him to the verge of suicide.

“You will have a lifetime of happy memories if you just allow yourself and give yourself the time to make them.”

You can view the full clip by clicking below:

New software combats cyberbullying

Safe Communications, Inc. has recently announced the introduction of http://www.mousemail.com/. It is the company’s patent pending and secure digital environment for children.

This safeguards them from vulgar, sexual or hounding emails or text messages. If it detects any incoming or outgoing emails or text messages that contain doubtful content, it automatically forwards these mails to a parent to get approval before forwarding it to the child, or else, it will be stopped from going through.

Bill Bennett — former education secretary and former drug czar— has recently become a senior adviser to Safe Communications, whose first product, MouseMail.com, is designed to help combat the problems of cyberbullying and sexting.

The way MouseMail works, parents have to first approve who is sending their child texts. They can of course add names any time, but the requirement of parental approval forces parents to be involved, to have that first conversation with their child or children. As for the content of the e-mails and texting, once the parent approves the who, the child can e-mail and text freely, so long as what he is sent, and is sending, is not vulgar language, bullying language, or sexting imagery. If the language goes that way, it is blocked and sent to the parents — for them to approve, or not approve, and go back to having that conversation with their child.

You can learn more about the service by clicking here.

DOE hosts bullying conference

The U.S. Department of Education hosted its first conference on bullying this week, adding the issue to a steadily growing list of education priorities for the Obama administration. Leaders attending the conference tasked themselves with developing and implementing a national strategy that reduces and eventually ends bullying.

The conference — an interagency effort by the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Justice, Defense, Interior and Agriculture — is the first of its kind, bringing together government and non-government players in the education field to discuss how to address bullying.

Highlights from the conference included the following:

Representatives from Dairy Queen, the Cartoon Network, and Facebook talked about ways that corporate America can help form partnerships with local communities and schools to prevent bullying in public schools. You can view that segment by clicking here.

A panel led by Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin addressed the impact of bullying and what programs work in combating it. You can view that segment by clicking here.

Representatives from the medical and criminal justice communities and teen mentors discussed current programs to help stop bullying in schools. You can view that segment by clicking here.

Arne Duncan addressed the Department of Education’s first summit on efforts to prevent bullying in public schools. He talked about ways to end bullying and creating a national strategy to help local communities address the problem. You can view that segment by clicking here.

A panel of child development researchers presented scientific research on bullying. Topics included aggressive behavior versus bullying, interventions for bullying, and factors that contribute to a climate of bulling. You can view that segment by clicking here.

You can view the entire program by clicking here.

Anti-bullying task force formed in Franklin

The Franklin School Committee aims to provide its students and staff with an educational setting that is safe, secure, and free from student harassment, also known as bullying. Indeed, the mission of the Franklin Public Schools is to “cultivate each student’s intellectual, social, emotional and physical potential through rigorous academic inquiry and informed problem solving skills within a safe, nurturing and respectful environment.”

Among our core values are the following:

•    Through our words and our actions, we create a culture of civility, thoughtfulness, appreciation and approachability.

•    We partner with all members of the community to exchange ideas, solve problems and build a comprehensive educational experience.

Recent events involving bullying (including cyberbullying) in communities outside Franklin have prompted the School Committee to review its current policies and practices in these areas. In addition, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is considering anti-bullying legislation which may be implemented in the next few weeks.

The School Committee recognizes that bullying can have long-term effects on an individual’s self-esteem and mental health. Children talk about feeling alone, worthless and unable to concentrate on their studies. It can wreck their education and destroy their confidence. If bullying is not tackled promptly and appropriately, the consequences can be destructive. Addressing bullying in a forthright and direct manner will help our schools become safer places. A safer school means a better environment for learning.

In consideration of the foregoing, the School Committee has decided to immediately form a task force, pursuant to Policy BDF, to address bullying concerns and make recommendations for the implementation of policies and practices to combat this social problem. The task force will review current policies and practices in Franklin, identify items to include in an anti-bullying policy, identify potential costs associated with implementation of various recommendations, identify acts which acts of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, bullying or cyberbullying which may constitute criminal activity, and address legal concerns.

The Task Force is expected to present its findings in June 2010.