Bullying has been going on since people set foot on this planet and people have been writing about bullying all the way back to Cain and Abel. So why does bullying still exist and continue to escalate?
Why has bullying escalated to a level that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] declared bullying a “significant health problem”?
Bullying exists and bullies exist in nearly every school, nearly every college and nearly every organization. Evidence is overwhelming and it is time to accept the facts and admit status quo bullying approaches are not working, are not solving and are not preventing bullying.
Why is bullying still in existence and why is bullying still escalating?
Because most anti-bullying and bully prevention programs are not solving bullying problems and not getting to the root of bullying issues at the individual level [aggressor, target, bystander, etc.]. Instead most programs and campaigns [see below] are focused on reactive approaches that do not solve multi-faceted bullying, social and behavior problems:
If these programs and campaigns were working, how could bullying become a nationwide “significant health problem”?
Shouldn’t we be solving bullying issues and helping children/students learn how to take proactive and proven actions to prevent bullying? YES! [After all, children are not born bullies, they learn to bully.]
SOLVING any problem [math, psychology, science, athletics, etc.] requires a process. SOLVING a multi-faceted problem like bullying requires a process that involves admitting a problem exists and then identifying incidents, assessing, investigating, intervening, monitoring, connecting the right dots, preventing recurring incidents and documenting to ensure actions and solutions can be utilized and updated on an ongoing basis as bullying, cyber bullying and numerous other incidents arise.
SOLVING a multi-faceted problem like bullying is NOT going to be solved by stopping, stomping, fighting, kicking, waging war, winning the war, etc.
SOLVING the bullying problem and proactively preventing bullying is possible and innovative leaders in schools, colleges and organizations are providing evidence that others can use to follow the leaders. If you would like to learn how innovative leaders are taking proactive steps to solve multi-faceted problems like bullying and others, click here.
Last month, A 17-year-old Texas student committed suicide in a high school courtyard. The student posted two Facebook updates that morning–one saying he was planning on committing suicide, and another with him pointing a gun at his head. In his message, he said, “I don’t know if this is going to affect people or if ya’ll are even going to care but I just want to say I’m taking my life away…”
A quote from another student after the shooting – “He said he was going through a lot of stuff. He put pictures up before he did it. Nobody believed him until he did it.”
What if just one of the students who saw the posts online or heard the victim talking about suicide earlier had contacted an adult or reported the behaviors to the school? Would this 17 year old still have a future?
Did you know 80% of school shooters told someone about their plan beforehand? Did you know that 80% of bullying is witnessed? And did you know that 80% of these incidents are NOT reported? Schools cannot continue to let these alarming trends go unnoticed. Why aren’t students sharing concerning behaviors and threats with you?
Below are 10 reasons your students may not be sharing this information with you:
2) Embarrassed in front of their peers
3) Not sure if the threats/concerns need to be reported
4) Don’t know how or where to report
5) Don’t trust their reports will be taken seriously; believe nothing will happen (as a side note, recent school surveys revealed that even when bullying was reported by students, 1/3 of the time, nothing happened – SCHOOLS – THIS IS NOT OKAY!)
6) Don’t want to be known as a ‘snitch’
7) Don’t trust administration/adults
8) Scared they will get in trouble/get mobile devices taken away
9) Feel it will make the situation worse
10) Red-tape/institutional barriers
44% of students are aware of a risk to their school! You can’t prevent what you don’t know about!!
So, what can schools do?
1) Empower and train bystanders to share all concerns
2) Make reporting simple, easy and ANONYMOUS
3) Ensure all Reports are Received Immediately
4) Ensure the Reports are Going to the RIGHT people
5) Track and document all reports
6) Ensure accountability and responsibility for responding to reports
7) Track all actions taken, intervention steps, etc.
8) Proactively respond/intervene to ensure situation does not escalate
9) Set reminders to follow-up/follow-through
10) Review incidents ongoing
To learn how leading school districts are taking the proactive steps above and ensuring an ongoing culture of safety and prevention, visit www.awareity.com/public/news.asp.
A child or parent reports bullying during the parent-teacher conference. Then what? What constitutes bullying? What should a teacher do with this report? Who does the information get shared with? What type of investigation needs to be done? Do you talk with the bully and victim together or separately or both? Should you call in the other parents? How much information can you give them? What are the consequences for bullying?
Is the situation getting better? How do you know? Has it gotten worse? Are you monitoring behaviors ongoing? Maybe the bullying stopped in your classroom, but do you know if it is going on elsewhere?
Do you need to share this report with administration? Does this classify as bullying for the state report? Does this involve a special needs student? Do you have evidence or written statements from either party? How has the student been affected at school? Lower grades? Less participation? Have they been absent more often? Do they need to be referred to outside services? What if there was a physical injury?
School personnel are busy. It is difficult for them to know the right thing to do in every situation, so it is critical for schools to develop clear policies and steps for investigation so all the right information is gathered and shared with the right people and appropriate actions are taken to proactively resolve incidents before they escalate.
Does your school have a clear procedure for investigating incidents of bullying and harassment? If you do, do you know if your teachers and staff have read the policy and understand their individual responsibilities? How are you ensuring this procedure is followed?
To learn how a leading school district is working to improve their ongoing investigation process, click here to listen to Tulsa Public School’s Student Services Director, Tenna Whitsel, discuss their efforts.
If you or your child is being bullied by classmates, you have probably reported the bullying to someone at the school. But, then what? How was the issue addressed by the school? Did they talk to the bully or punish the bully? Did the situation get better? Did the situation get worse?
Regardless of how serious or small the issue is or feels, one of the most important steps for students and parents to remember when reporting a situation is DOCUMENTATION!
If you are meeting with a teacher or principal, come prepared with proof and examples of when and where the bullying happened. If you have e-mail communication, keep copies of all of your messages and copy all of those involved (teachers, counselors, principals, school board members, etc.).
Pictures can also be important. If there are messages sent or posted on Facebook, be sure to take a screenshot so you have that evidence. You can also take copies of cell phone text message logs to show any harassing messages.
Keep track of each incident – the date/time you or your child is harassed, assaulted, bullied, etc. You should have this daily log so you can show the bullying is ongoing and that despite the school’s efforts (or non-efforts) to intervene, the situation continues to escalate.
You can also ask for witness accounts; if others were there when the bullying happened, record their statements or ask them to fill out an incident report detailing what took place.
One of the biggest challenges for parents and students is feeling defeated, like their reports are being ignored, but never give up. It is critical to continue to document and report all incidents.
If your school has an online incident reporting form, this can be a great first step to ensure your reports continue to be documented by the school. However the most important steps involve getting the right information (incident reports that contain the right details) to the right people so the right people can do the right things…and your documentation can help make the difference for your child.
For more detailed information and tips for Parents, please visit www.everythingstartswith1.org and request the Your Voice Parent Guide, written by David and Tina Long of the movie ‘Bully’.
Headlines from the first month of school are troubling with stabbings, suicides, murder, bullying, cyberbullying and numerous other incidents.
Even more troubling is that most of the incidents look like they were PREVENTABLE had the schools had the right tools to get the right information (concerning behaviors, threats, escalations, etc.) to the right people in the right places at the right time so the right people could do the right things…right away.
For example, the following messages were released on social media days/weeks BEFORE this student committed suicide on the first day of school:
“I have chosen to go with 3 peoples advice and kill myself, I just wish it was faster”
“Hey if I were to stab my eye out due to school caused insanity, who would miss me?”
“I notice if I sound sad I’m normal and if I act happy, cheerful, and ‘normal’ there is a high chance that I will try to poison myself, cut myself, commit suicide, or jump in front of a truck ”
We cannot change the past, but we can change the future if we take proactive actions right away.
Until all appropriate individuals are equipped with the right tools to PROACTIVELY PREVENT, schools, colleges, government agencies and organizations will only be able to REACT to incidents rather than PREVENT them.
Evidence from hundreds and hundreds of tragic incidents clearly reveal REACTING is significantly more expensive, more stressful, less safe for students and less safe for faculty/staff. And lessons learned reveal it is nearly impossible for schools and colleges to create a positive and safe learning environment when everyone is on edge REACTING to risks, threats and concerning behaviors on an ongoing basis.
Fortunately, several INNOVATOR schools and colleges have stepped up across the United States and in Canada and numerous success stories can be seen in the “In Case You Missed It” section at the following link: http://www.awareity.com/public/news.asp
With all of the troubling headlines and tragedies this new school year, educational and government officials can’t just talk about SAFETY of Students, Faculty, Staff and Community Members…they must take immediate action and equip individuals to PROACTIVELY PREVENT escalations and tragic incidents.
I am ready to help…call me ASAP at 402.730.0090 or e-mail me at email@example.com.
Awareity’s Rick Shaw recently had the opportunity to speak with Tulsa Public Schools’ Assistant Athletic Director Mick Wilson. TPS is always looking for ways to save time and improve the way the athletic department manages their obligations and Wilson shares several tips for improving compliance and touches on hot topics like concussions, training, etc.
A quick excerpt from the interview is below. To hear the full 15 minute segment, click here.
How is TIPS improving the way you make coaches aware of new information and training?
The biggest thing we have been able to do so far is really to get the information out to people. People can login and access information, policies, handbooks and materials that need to be in front of them, including some video links so our coaches can login and look at everything. In Tulsa Public Schools, we deal with 400-500 coaches throughout the district – it is difficult to get everyone in one room, we try to do that once a year. We teach them how to login and access information through the year.
We were also able to develop a compliance test. Gil and I both spent time at the NCAA level. Many conferences require you to complete a NCAA test to make sure coaches know the rules regarding recruiting. We are doing the same thing here, requiring coaches to not only review information, but to pass an exam through the Vault. You are seeing a lot of states requiring schools to have concussion policies, heat prevention guidelines, etc. and you can do that all with TIPS; it has been real helpful for us.
How are you ensuring compliance with the OSSAA policies and rules?
When we started this, we really liked the idea wanted to do it. We wanted to be the first school district in the state to require our coaches to pass a compliance test. When we were developing, we worked closely with OSSAA to develop the test, get their interpretations, review questions back and forth. Now with concussions being a major area of emphasis with the national association, the governing body for all high school athletics, NHHS, coaches are required to watch the education video yearly. This year, the heat is also a big concern with record temperatures; that information must be disseminated to all coaches (required by manual and state activities association). Rather than having someone sign off on a sheet of paper or getting everyone together, we can use Awareity to login, document time/date they accessed it, if they have an active certificate, etc. From a legal standpoint, they are now responsible for agreeing to the policy and they can pass that information along to their students. This is an annual requirement and they can easily login and meet those requirements.
We have also talked about putting our coaches manual online for them to login and review and also have that information there to review as needed. May also include things like recruiting, physicals, consent forms, etc. We have also included the National Association’s Coaches Code of Conduct that has been adopted nationwide. We have also talked about tying in our transportation requests down the road.
Guest Post from Tina Long
After her son Tyler’s peer abuse driven bullycide in 2009, Tina Long has worked along with her husband, David, to stop bullying and make schools accountable for our children’s safety. She has traveled the country to promote awareness of the severity and damage that bullying can cause. David and Tina have appeared on The Ellen Show, 20/20, Nightline, and many other programs. They both spoke at a caucus on bullying in Washington, D.C. Tina is currently working on the project Everything Starts with 1 along with Awareity and continues to be an anti-bullying advocate.
*I remember when I was a little girl, my mom left us with men who did bad things while she partied. She has been married approximately 9 times. I thought, I will always be there for my children…always. I will never do this to them. I refused to repeat her behavior.
*I remember when Tyler was born, I called my grandmother and told her he was the most beautiful baby ever. She told me that every mom thinks that. I said to her, “No, really, no baby is as beautiful as Tyler”.
*I remember Tyler not talking at the age of 3, not walking at almost 2. The pediatrician thought we were crazy parents and brushed off our concerns when we told her something wasn’t right. He only drank Gatorade and ate Burger King. He was totally fixed on Barney. We just KNEW we weren’t overacting, but the pediatrician assigned to us on base just ignored our concerns.
*I remember David retiring from the Army, even though he didn’t want to, so he could be home with Tyler who got upset each time David left.
*I remember going to nursing school so I could care for Troy’s congenital heart condition and learn about Tyler’s disability. The first psychologist we visited with Tyler when he was in the first grade diagnosed him with ADD, ADHD, ODD, and bipolar. I knew none of these diagnoses fit, but Asperger’s Disorder wasn’t well known at that time.
*I remember when Tyler was in the 6th grade, I asked teachers for help because Tyler was complaining of getting bullied. The teacher, Jenny Johnson, stated to me that she didn’t have to help Tyler because he wasn’t “diagnosed” with anything. Apparently, his diagnoses from years ago weren’t good enough. I took Tyler to an actual psychiatrist who diagnosed him correctly with Asperger’s Disorder and Pervasive Developmental disorder (PDD NOS). After I brought her this diagnoses, I heard rumors that she was calling both of us “names” that I can’t repeat. I later received an email that confirmed the rumors.
*I remember meeting with principal Maria Bradley (middle school); we told her that Tyler was getting bullied and asked her for help. She responded to us that “Boys will be boys; Kids are cruel at this age.” A week later, Tyler was cornered in the boy’s bathroom at school. He fought back and they put HIM in school suspension for fighting. He would never fight back again for fear of getting in trouble.
*I remember Tyler asking me to “sue the school” because he was getting bullied and told me it was “against the law”. I agreed with him and called several attorneys. They all told me that we didn’t have enough money or power to sue a school. Turns out they were all correct since we gave up our right to go to the Supreme Court for fear of owing $30,000 to the school district.
*I remember the worst day of my life. I awakened to David screaming my name from the other side of the house. I will never forget running into Tyler’s room and seeing him hanging there. How do we bury our child? I remember, even with my training as a nurse, that he was gone, and I couldn’t save him.
*I remember seeing his cold, blue body laying on the slab in the funeral home. I was crying to him “Why didn’t you tell me more, I would have helped you”. But, of course, I had tried to help him; it wasn’t enough.
*I remember getting ready that morning for Tyler’s funeral thinking, “this isn’t happening”.
*I remember all of the kids coming forward after Tyler’s death telling us what happened to him at school.
*I remember finally finding an attorney who was willing to help us. He told us that our family will be tore apart by the school if we sue because the school will blame us as their defense. We both thought it was worth it for Tyler…we could not be anymore hurt than we are now.
*I remember sitting there listening to depositions from kids telling what Tyler endured on a daily basis. Why didn’t anyone tell us this before? Why was this tolerated?
*I remember the judge saying we couldn’t go to trial for Tyler, but the suicide was a result of the bullying at school, and the school was negligent. How is this possible in America?
*I remember talking to Rick Shaw from Awareity about his TIPS program (www.tipsprevent.com) and thinking that hope for our children does exist. This program could have saved Tyler’s life.
*I remember Tyler everyday. How kind and accepting he was. How he has taught us so much about the love of others.
*And lastly, I remember the hurt, horribly intense pain that I felt and still feel. It is so indescribable. Our family will never again be complete. Tyler, we miss you so very much.
Any good Coach will tell you a well-placed time out can be a game changer.
Clearly now is the time to call a time out for ALL School Administrators, ALL Coaches and ALL Student Athletes! (actually all students)
This tragic incident involving a female student who was raped by multiple student athletes is yet another example of how a lack of awareness and a lack of accountability at the individual-level is going to have life-long effects on multiple students, multiple families, multiple School Administrators and many others.
Innovators like Athletic Directors Gil Cloud and Mick Wilson at Tulsa Public Schools have taken the lead. They are ensuring all athletic coaches and staff do not lack awareness or accountability at the individual level, and in turn making sure student athletes are also accountable for their actions and conduct. http://www.tipsprevent.com/Awareity-PR-TulsaAD.pdf
As the new school year is starting, we hope all Athletic Directors follow the lead of Tulsa Public Schools and see the importance of calling a time out to make sure their coaches, staff and student athletes are aware, accountable and equipped to make a life changing or life-saving contribution.
Co-Authored by Keira Olvey and Rick Shaw of Awareity
Adolescence can be a terrifying time for children.
Harassment, assault, bullying, cyber bullying, weapon threats, stabbings, shootings, bombings, gangs, child abuse, human trafficking, drugs, alcohol and more – have all become potential risks that children face in their community and their school. These terrifying risks can cause children to:
In 2012 alone, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported nearly 4,600 youth committed suicide. That’s over 12 kids a day who felt they were better off DEAD than living one more day with these stresses and terrifying risks. And for every life that was lost, the CDC said another 100-200 children attempted to kill themselves. These children felt ignored, unloved, like a failure, a disappointment, forgotten and disconnected. Research reveals that suicide victims told one or more people about their struggles and tried to find help but:
And when the right people cannot see all the facts at once, cannot see what at-risk children are suffering through, cannot recognize patterns and escalations…then the right people cannot proactively prevent incidents and tragedies and cannot provide the help at-risk children so desperately need. Instead of receiving the support they require, their anguish, their perceptions and their ideations get to the point where these children do not believe others care and they feel like ending their life is the best option.
Aren’t children’s lives worth saving?
We believe there are better options and proven solutions that are saving children’s lives and preventing suicides and numerous other preventable tragedies. Please check out: www.TIPSprevent.com
Rick recently sat down with Homer Public School’s Secondary Principal Randy Pirner to learn more about their school safety efforts and use of TIPS. As a small rural school in Nebraska, we are definitely impressed with Homer’s leadership and their innovative efforts to keep their students safe!
Below is a quick excerpt from the interview. Click here to listen to the rest of Principal Pirner’s Lessons Learned!
Why did your school see the need for a proactive prevention program like TIPS?
We found that we had an issue with bullying; not a significant number, but we had a total disconnect from the younger child having an issue with bullying to the school. The paper trail never got to the right people – the principal, counselor, etc. As a small school, we wear multiple hats and if you don’t have a way to track the path of a student, it is difficult to know the full picture and make decisions.
With a program like TIPS, schools can streamline efforts and keep everyone in the know. TIPS has been a great tool for us to track and help students as they grow.
We didn’t even really know what we were looking for, but when we stumbled upon TIPS, it was really unique. It was primarily used for large districts and colleges, and we became one of the first small rural schools to use the program.
We have the same problems as larger districts. We might not have as many, but TIPS provides a way for all of us to know immediately if a student is being harassed in school or out of school.
What feedback have you received from students, parents or school staff?
Probably the most feedback we have received is from students. All the feedback is positive. Students have said it is just nice to be able to tell somebody about a situation and not worry about walking into the principal’s office or set up a meeting with the counselor. It is immediate and you do get action.
We act on every situation. Sometimes students might get confused on a bullying incident or someone just having a bad day. We have a counselor who will connect with students on every single matter. Parents have also contacted us and enjoy it as they can access TIPS from work or home. Sometimes statements might be made online on social media and they can easily upload those comments from a particular bullying or harassment situation into TIPS so we can see it and review. I forwarded one incident onto our Liaison Officer and it is great to have that documentation available.
How are you using TIPS to proactively prevent or stop incidents from escalating?
TIPS has made communication easier, and when we communicate with students, problems seem to get taken care of. It’s when that piece of communication isn’t there, we aren’t aware of potential problems. TIPS provides a vehicle for someone to be made aware of a possible situation. TIPS also provides proof and evidence to share with the parents when a report is made.
The more aware you can make students that there is always an alternative solution; TIPS has helped make their school experience a more positive one.