Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Everything You Need to Know About NJ's New Anti-Bullying Law

Every school in the State of New Jersey is now required to enact what has come to be known as "The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights." What follows is an excerpt from a feature article I wrote for this month's NJEA Review detailing the responsibilities of every teacher regarding this important new law:

“They call me names every day and make me feel like I don’t belong. It never stops.” Her face dissolved in sobs, then the words I feared most: “I can’t face another day. Those kids who committed suicide . . . well, that’s what I’m ready to do.” This beautiful child, filled with promise, pushed to the brink by bullying at the tender age of 10.

“Shawna,” with help from her school counselor, is weathering the storm. But countless other kids are lost in despair due to bullying. According to the White House, 13 million kids are bullied each year, about a third of all students. Yet it’s not only bullied kids who suffer. All kids lose when bullying happens. Those who bully are more likely to end up incarcerated by age 30, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Bystanders are harmed too. “People who simply watch their peers get verbally or physically abused experience just as much, if not more, psychological distress as the actual bullying victim,” says School Psychology Quarterly. For these reasons and more, the Centers for Disease Control calls bullying “a major public health problem” and reports that 13.8 percent of students in grades 9-12 seriously considered suicide in the previous 12 months.

Yet many teachers don’t actually see bullying happening. It often flies under the radar, taking place in hallways, schoolyards, cafeterias, on school buses, in cyberspace, and other venues beyond the earshot of adults. Its presence is insidious, impeding learning and creating a climate of fear that can lead to depression and suicide.

Click here to read the complete article.

Click here for a complete list of anti-bullying resources including free, downloadable tools and lessons you can use in your classroom.

                               From NJEA Review, September, 2011

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