Bullying 101

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Presentation on bullying of LGBT youth in schools and in our culture. The presentation discusses its harmful effects, the legal challenges, and potential solutions. The presentation also provides case studies of bullying's devastating impact on LGBT youth. The presentation was part of a workshop during the Out of the Closet and Into Your Office seminar held in Jacksonville, Florida on October 17-18, 2013.

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Bullying 101

  1. 1. Presented by John Dorris and Joanne Wilson 101 Image from http://ok.gov/sde/faqs/bullying- frequently-asked-questions
  2. 2. What is bullying? • Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school age children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Information from stop bullying.gov
  3. 3. What specifically makes an act bullying? • An imbalance of power • Repetition Information from stop bullying.gov
  4. 4. Types of bullying • Verbal bullying • I.E. teasing, name calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, or threats • Social bullying • Damaging someone's reputation or relationships • Physical bullying Information from stop bullying.gov
  5. 5. With technology came a new type of bully
  6. 6. • Cyberbullying is defined as bullying that takes place using electronic technology. • Electronic technology • Devices and equipment includes cell phones, computers, and tablets • Communication tools include social media, text messages, chat, videos, and websites Image from http://new-wineskins.org/blog/2012/12/cyber- bullying/
  7. 7. • It can happen anytime and without witnesses • It can be done anonymously and dispersed quickly making it almost impossible to trace • It's hard to remove • The statistics of kids being cyberbullied is increasing rapidly • It's become easier to bully; the bully can hide behind a computer
  8. 8. Rapidly Changing Cyber World
  9. 9. Now you see it, now you don’t. • New and emerging technologies make it easier to bully students without parents or care-givers realizing it is happening. • Most people are familiar with MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. • Have they heard of Ask.fm, Kik, Voxer, or Snapchat? Each is free, and they allow anonymous or fictitious profiles.
  10. 10. New Routes for Cyber-Bullying • Ask.fm – Users can create a profile and let people ask them questions. • Why aren’t you dead? Why are you still alive? • Kik and Voxer – Smartphone messenger programs • Snapchat – Allows the sender to set a time limit for how long recipients can view the photo, test, or video message
  11. 11. Bullying isn't just for kids anymore • Although we use other terms, these are still forms of bullying • Hazing • Harassment • Stalking Information from stop bullying.gov
  12. 12. Workplace Bullying • It's not simple constructive criticism • It's persistent • It's personal • And it's hard to explain so many ignore it Information from www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/bullying/adult-bullying
  13. 13. The Numbers
  14. 14. • Every 7 minutes a child is bullied; 85% of the time, there is no intervention of any kind • Each day, 160,000 students miss school due to bullying • Bullying is a leading factor in suicide among kids 11-16 years old • By age 24, 60% of bullies have been charged with a crime • 34% of all children report being bullied regularly at least several times a year • 86% of children aged 12-15 report at least some form of bullying has interfered with their studies moderately or severely
  15. 15. • 43% of middle school children avoid the bathroom and locker rooms at all costs due to certainty of being bullied. • 1 of every 4 children is more than occasionally cyber-bullied. • More 25 million families are currently traumatized by bullying in the U.S. today • When polled, 98% of students indicated that they want teachers to intervene. • According to a 2011 Harvard School of Health Study, male bullies are nearly four times as likely as non-bullies to grow up to physically or sexually abuse their female partners.
  16. 16. • In schools where there are anti-bullying programs, bullying is reduced by 50% • Bullying was a factor in 2/3 of the 37 school shootings reviewed by the US Secret Service • Recent bullying studies have found that schools that had a more intense bullying atmosphere, passing rates on standardized tests in such subjects as algebra, earth science and world history were 3 to 6% lower Information from http://www.sears.com/anti-bullying-statistics/dap-120000000283435
  17. 17. Estimated Florida Statistics • Population: 15,982,378 • 16.9 – 2,701,022 children of School age 5 to 18 • Victims: 204,467 • Victims/Bullies: 42,676 • Bullies: 195,014 • Total est. involved in bullying: 442,157 Information from http://www.bullypolice.org/BullyingNumbers.pdf
  18. 18. Whose at risk to be bullied? • Those who are seen as different: • Overweight or Underweight • Glasses • Clothing • New to school • Not able to have "cool" things • Those seen as weak Photo from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/9843997/Childre n-bullied-because-of-their-wealthy-backgrounds- study-finds.html Information from stop bullying.gov
  19. 19. Groups at risk for being bullied • LGBT youth • Those with disabilities or special health needs • Those of different race, ethnicities or national origins • Those of different religions or faiths • Those not as popular • Those who don't always get along with others • Those that are depressed, anxious, or have low self esteem Information from stop bullying.gov
  20. 20. Whose at risk to become a bully? • Those more well connected, more popular, those concerned about being popular, and those who like power • Those who are isolated, depressed, anxious, have low self esteem, less involved, easily pressured, or can't identify with someone else's feelings • Those more aggressive or frustrated Information from stop bullying.gov
  21. 21. Who is at Risk to Become a Bully? • Those with issues at home or lack parental involvement • Those that think bad of others • Those who struggle with rules • Those who idolize violence • Those with bullies as friends
  22. 22. Signs that someone is being bullied • Unexplainable injuries • Lost or destroyed stuff • Frequent headaches, stomach aches, feeling sick, or faking illness • Changes in eating habits • Problems sleeping or frequent nightmares Information from stop bullying.gov
  23. 23. Signs that someone is being bullied • Slipping grades, loss of interest in school, or avoiding school • Sudden loss of friends or avoiding social situations • Feelings of helplessness or lowered self esteem • Self destructive behavior
  24. 24. Spotting a bully • Got into physical or verbal fights • Have bullies as friends • Increasingly aggressive • Sent to the principals office or detention frequently • Unexplained extra money or new belongings • Blame others for their problems • Refuses to accept responsibility for actions • Competitive • Worried about popularity or reputation Information from stop bullying.gov
  25. 25. The Effects • Those bullied are more likely to: • Experience depression, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, changes in eating and sleeping, and loss of interest • Health issues • Slipping grades or performance
  26. 26. The Effects • Bullies are more likely to: • Abuse alcohol and other drugs throughout life • Get into fights, damage property, and drop out of school • Engage in early sexual activity • Commit crimes • Become abusive Information from stop bullying.gov
  27. 27. The Bullied Brain
  28. 28. The information comes from the article "Inside the Bullied Brain" by Emily Anthes, published 11/28/10 in The Boston Globe. The Bullied Brain • Neuroscientists are finding neurological evidence of peer-on-peer victimization, resembling the same effects evidenced by survivors of childhood physical or sexual abuse. • Emotional abuse from peer turns out to be as damaging to mental health as emotional abuse from parents.
  29. 29. The Bullied Brain • Brain scans reveal abnormalities in the corpus callosum, the bundle of fibers that connect the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which is important in visual processing and memory. • The fibers in the corpus callosum also had less myelin, the coating that speeds communication between the cells. • Research continues into how this translates into cognitive performance.
  30. 30. The Bullied Brain • Researchers found bullying leads to increased levels of cortisol, a hormone produced during times of stress, in males. • Bullied girls apparently have abnormally lower levels of cortisol. Researchers suggest bullied girls may be chronically stressed resulting in the body learning to make less of it. • High levels of cortisol can kill neurons in the hippocampus leading to memory problems and ultimately poor academic performance. • High levels of cortisol can further suppress the immune system.
  31. 31. Although most do not resort to this, some will take their own lives. Information from stop bullying.gov
  32. 32. This is Megan Meier • She was 13. She loved dogs and swimming. She was a heavy girl. • In the third grade, she was counseled for suicidal tendencies. • But she was doing better. She was starting a new school. Information and photo from http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org/megansStory.php.
  33. 33. Megan Meier • She was on MySpace. And so was Josh. • She begged to be allowed to have a MySpace account. Only her mom and dad had the password. Her mom monitored her account. • Megan's mom let Megan friend Josh who requested to be her friend. She thought he was hot. She thought he was 16.
  34. 34. Megan Meier • They talked until one day he wrote her "I don't know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I've heard that you are not very nice to your friends." • Megan frantically wrote him back to see why he said that. • October 16, 2006, Megan came home from school and asked her mom to let her on MySpace to see if Josh responded. Information from http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org/megansStory.php.
  35. 35. Megan Meier • Megan's mom was in a hurry. She logged Megan on and it wasn't long before Megan was upset. • In a rush, Megan's mom told her to log off. But Megan was crying. Megan's mom left but it wasn't long before Megan called her. People were posting things about her. They called her a slut. They called her fat. Her mom was mad at Megan for not logging off.
  36. 36. Megan Meier • Megan's mom came home and saw the responses her daughter was sending to the people. Megan's mom was so angry at Megan for her actions. • Megan ran upstairs and ran into her dad. He asked what happened and she explained. He said it would be OK. And she went to her room. • Megan's mom and dad went to the kitchen to make dinner while discussing what happened. Information from http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org/megansStory.php.
  37. 37. Megan Meier • Megan's mom froze mid sentence and ran upstairs. • Megan had hung herself in the closet. • She died the next day. • Josh's last message to Megan said "The world would be a better place without you." Information from http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org/megansStory.php.
  38. 38. Megan Meier • Weeks later they discovered something horrible. • Josh wasn't 16. He wasn't even real. He was the family member of a former friend of Megan's. Lori Drew was 47. • The woman was convicted in a California federal court of three misdemeanors, but a judge overturned the conviction. • Missouri now has the Megan Meier cyberbullying law. Information from http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org/megansStory.php.
  39. 39. This is Tyler Clementi • Tyler was 18. He loved music and played the violin. • Tyler was gay and came out in high school, although it was very hard for him. • Tyler attended Rutgers University. He was excited and yearning for freedom. Information and photo from http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/tyler_clementi/index.html and http://www.tylerclementi.org/tylers-story/.
  40. 40. • But his roommate, Dharun Ravi, used a webcam to spy on Tyler. And one day, he recorded Tyler with another man in their room. Ravi invited others to join in to watch. • Tyler found out what happened and discovered that Ravi intended to do it again. • Tyler logged on to Twitter and found he was a popular topic on Ravi's Twitter feed. Ravi and others were mocking him, calling him names. Information from http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/tyler_clementi/index.html and http://www.tylerclementi.org/tylers-story/.
  41. 41. • A few days later he threw himself off of the George Washington Bridge. • Ravi was charged with 15 counts, including bias intimidation and invasion of privacy. He was not charged for Tyler's death. • Ravi was found guilty on all counts. Information from http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/tyler_clementi/index.html and http://www.tylerclementi.org/tylers-story/.
  42. 42. It’s Everywhere. It's hitting close to home.
  43. 43. This is Hope Witsell • She was 13. • Hope sent a nude photo of herself to a boy. • It was spread around her school, Beth Shields Middle School in Ruskin and beyond. • They attacked her on MySpace. • They harassed her during school hours.
  44. 44. This is Hope Witsell • On September 12, 2009, Hope’s mom found her hanging by a pink scarf from her canopy bed. • And days after her death, people were still posting on her Facebook and Myspace cruel messages.
  45. 45. This is Rebecca Sedwick • She was 14. • They started bullying her last December. That's when her mom found she had slashed her wrists. • She was hospitalized and counseled for 3 days. • When she went back to school, some girl wanted to fight her.
  46. 46. Rebecca Sedwick • Her mom pulled her out of school, homeschooled her, deleted her Facebook, took away her cell and tried to keep track of Rebecca's social media use. • She went to a new school this fall. She got her cell back and downloaded new apps.
  47. 47. • And the bullying started back up again. • On September 9, 2013, Rebecca's mom saw Rebecca's texting. • Not long after, Rebecca jumping from a tower at an abandoned cement plant near her home in Lakeland. • Police are still going through her social media, but they have arrested two of the young women that bullied Rebecca and are investigating their parents to find out what they knew and when. Information and photo from http://wlrn.org/post/rise-cyberbullying-case-rebecca-sedwick and http://touch.orlandosentinel.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-77430274/
  48. 48. Although bullying isn't the sole cause of those who take their lives, you can see how it is a large factor. Information from stop bullying.gov
  49. 49. What laws address bullying?
  50. 50. Federal Law Although no federal law directly addresses bullying, in some cases, bullying overlaps with discriminatory harassment when it is based on race, national origin, color, sex, age, disability, or religion. When bullying and harassment overlap, federally-funded schools (including colleges and universities) have an obligation to resolve the harassment. When the situation is not adequately resolved, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division may be able to help.Information from stop bullying.gov
  51. 51. Applicable Federal Laws A school that fails to respond appropriately to harassment of students based on a protected class may be violating one or more civil rights laws enforced by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice.
  52. 52. Applicable Federal Laws Title IV and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Information from stop bullying.gov
  53. 53. State and Local Law State and local lawmakers have taken action to prevent bullying and protect children. Through laws (in their state education codes and elsewhere) and model policies (that provide guidance to districts and schools), each state addresses bullying differently. South Dakota marked the 49th state to pass an anti-bullying law Information from stop bullying.gov
  54. 54. Title IX and Student Harassment • Davis Next Friend LaShonda D. v. Monroe County Board of Education, 526 U.S. 629 (1999). • Title IX does create a private right cause of action in cases of student-on-student harassment. • However, liability is limited to very specific circumstances.
  55. 55. Davis Next Friend LaShonda D. v. Monroe County Board of Education • Does the Title IX recipient exercise substantial control over the environment where harassment occurs and over the parties, AND • Is the funding recipient deliberately indifferent to the sexual harassment, of which the recipient has actual knowledge, AND • The harassment is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprive the victims of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school.
  56. 56. Title IX and Student Harassment • Hawkins v. Sarasota County School Board, 322 F.3d 1279 (11th Cir. 2003). – Parents and guardians of three 2nd grade students brought action under Title IX alleging daughters were the victims of sexual harassment by another 2nd grade student.
  57. 57. Hawkins v. Sarasota County School Board • The Facts – Jane Doe I, II, and III were eight-year-old girls at North Toledo Blade Elementary School. – John Doe, also eight, joined the class after being expelled from a private school for striking a female student. – John Doe allegedly made numerous sexual gestures, inappropriately grabbed the girls in the lunch room and at bus stops, and repeatedly made lewd sexual comments to each of the girls.
  58. 58. Hawkins v. Sarasota County School Board • School officials deny ever witnessing the alleged inappropriate behavior • The class room teacher denied witnessing or being notified of the specific inappropriate behavior. • The children insist they told the teacher detailed information about John Doe.
  59. 59. Hawkins v. Sarasota County School Board • The Court rules in favor of the school board. • “The record in the case reflects no concrete, negative effect on either the ability to receive an education or the enjoyment of equal access to educational programs or opportunities.” • Grades didn’t suffer, avoided school only 4 or 5 times, they were simply upset about harassment. • Damages did not rise to the level to demonstrate “a systemic effect of denying equal access to an educational program or activity.”
  60. 60. Americans with Disabilities Act & Rehabilitation Act • D.A. v. Meridian Joint School District No. 2, 289 F.R.D. 614 (D. Idaho 2013). • Bullying may be a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act if (a) severe enough to alter the condition of a student’s education and create an abusive educational environment, AND (b) actual knowledge and deliberate indifference by school officials.
  61. 61. D.A. v. Meridian Joint School District No. 2 • 5 Factor test to prove peer-on-peer disability harassment: – Plaintiff is an individual with a disability – Person was harassed based on that disability – The harassment was sufficiently severe or pervasive that it altered the condition of his or her education and created an abusive educational environment – The defendant had actual knowledge of the harassment – The defendant was deliberately indifferent to the harassment
  62. 62. First Amendment & Anti-Bullying Protest Speech • Hatcher ex rel. Hatcher v. DeSoto County School District Board of Education, 2013 WL 1395829 (Dist. M.D. Fla. 2013). • DeSoto County High School student sought an injunction to prevent School Board from interfering with her First Amendment right to organize student participation in the 2013 National Day of Silence, a program that brings attention to the harms of bullying and harassment directed toward LGBT students.
  63. 63. Hatcher ex re. Hatcher v. DeSoto County School District Board of Education • Student attempted to organize participation in the National Day of Silence during the 2012 school year, but the High School Principal prohibited student involvement despite no violations of written school policy. • Evidence indicated an “unwritten policy” of prohibiting all “protest speech” in DeSoto County schools. • School Board claims 2013 will be different, former principal has been removed.
  64. 64. Hatcher ex re. Hatcher v. DeSoto County School District Board of Education • Court rules injunction not appropriate remedy under circumstances. • Moreover, it is unsure of how it would be fashioned beyond simply stating, “obey the law.”
  65. 65. Florida Law Florida Statutes Annotated §1006.07 – District school board duties relating to student discipline and school safety Florida Statutes Annotated §1006.147 – Bullying and harassment prohibited Cyberstalking s. 784.048(1)(d), F.S. Criminal harassment, stalking, defamation, libel, threatening letters, etc.
  66. 66. But what about schools and communities?
  67. 67. • Many schools are seeing an increase in lawsuits for not having prevented bullying. • But other schools are taking more proactive approaches • In Utah, a football coach who discovered that his team was cyberbullying suspended his entire team and made them perform community service, attend study hall and take a class on character development. • http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/09/25/utah-football-coach-suspends-entire-team-to-build-character/
  68. 68. Best Practices • Bullying assessments • Engage the community and get them involved • Set policies and rules • Build safe environments • Educate about bullying
  69. 69. Best Practices • Partner with business, local associations, etc. to educate the community and reduce bullying • Advocate for bullying prevention policies • Raise awareness through media • Track progress
  70. 70. What if YOU see it happening? Don't avoid it; intervene and separate this parties. Make sure everyone is OK but don't demand facts, blame, only speak with only one party, or make the parties speak publicly about what happened. Be careful using the term "bullying“.
  71. 71. What if YOU see it happening? • Don't add to an already stressful situation; Be as calm as possible • Support those bullied or bystanders and be sure to address bullying behavior • Be a role model Information from stop bullying.gov
  72. 72. What can we do? Photo from https://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=192135
  73. 73. • Join the ABA Young Lawyers Division's 2013- 2014 Public Service Project "Bullyproof: Young Lawyers Educating and Empowering to End Bullying" http://www.americanbar.org/groups/young_lawyers/initiatives/anti_bullying_initiative.html
  74. 74. Go viral with the "It Gets Better Project" or StopBullying.gov Join BETTERLegal of the "It Gets Better Project" to help spread the word and work on campaigns Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you or someone you know needs help
  75. 75. Work with your local school and community on bullying prevention and the creation of new policies. Educate people on bullying through schools, open forums, or meetings in your own workplace. Support student clubs and organizations . Stand up for those around you.
  76. 76. Questions? Image from http://www.lacoe.edu/StudentServices/SchoolSafety/BullyingPage.aspx
  77. 77. Thank you!

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