Monday, April 23, 2012

President Endorses Anti-Bullying Legislation

This from Politics K-12:
President Barack Obama today endorsed a pair of bills that would protect students who are bullied at school and in some cases, provide for students or their families to collect damages from school districts that don't act swiftly or strongly enough in students' defense.

In a statement, the White House said "the President and his Administration have taken many steps to address the issue of bullying. He is proud to support the Student Non-Discrimination Act, introduced by Senator [Al] Franken and Congressman [Jared] Polis, and the Safe Schools Improvement Act, introduced by Senator [Robert] Casey and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez. These bills will help ensure that all students are safe and healthy and can learn in environments free from discrimination, bullying and harassment."

Earlier today, the White House hosted a screening of the new documentary "Bully".

The President's endorsement of the bill coincides with the National Day of Silence, a day designated by the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network to encourage people to take some form of a vow of silence to draw attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.

Obama has shown support for anti-bullying measures several times, including hosting a summit at the White House on bullying last year and speaking before the national broadcast of another bullying documentary that aired recently on the Cartoon Network.

"Today's announcement is a vital show of support to students everywhere of all identities, backgrounds and beliefs who face bullying and harassment in school," GLSEN executive director Eliza Byard said. "By speaking out on GLSEN's Day of Silence in support of these two critical bills, the President has given greater hope to students who often feel that they have nowhere to turn."


Anonymous said...

Thank you, President Obama. You have brought compassion back to the White House.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to the President for taking a stand on such a serious issue many students and their families are dealing with on a daily basis in the public school system.Now we also need to address administrators who bully staff and students. Locally we have a principal who stated in a grade level meeting that he would like to punch a certain kid in the face himself.

Anonymous said...

There already exists all kinds of legislation which has been established to protect children from harrassment at school and beyond, even in our own state. GLSEN does not have exclusive ownership of bully characteristics or are we considering kids begin called "fat", "ugly", "slut", "stinky", etc as of a lesser class of harrassment?

Enforce the dog gone laws that exist, don't give me special interest prime time pandering.

Do we really want Washington writing our student handbooks and more importantly where is the "collection of damages" for a lack of swift and strong response by the harrasser's parents? In the end it is a child's parents who bear legal responsibility for their child's actions and not the schools that are required to serve them. I can only be as strong and swift as the laws and regulations will also control my operational existance.

Richard Day said...

April 24, 2012 2:08 PM: When you say..."I can only be as strong and swift as the laws and regulations..."
you touch on the Obama administration's approach, it seems to me.

They are focusing schools on the fact that existing civil rights legislation is perhaps not being used (but can be) to not only give teachers more support in the fight against bullying, but to give parents the very same weapons to use against teachers who refuse to protect kids who are being bullied in school.

Anonymous said...

I desperately need President Obama, Richard Day, or Governor Beshear to observe the bullying at my middle school in Fayette County.

The kids who suffer the most are those who are weakest and the names they are called include " dyke, fag, slut, whore".

When will we take action?

Anonymous said...

Assuming that bullying occurs because teachers and administrators aren't doing their job or simply incompetent or indifferent is an overly simplistic blame game. These same educators are being thrown under the bus as being instructionally ineffective because they don't give individualized instruction to 20=30 kids at once. If they can't teach them all individually at the same time, how do you think you are going to control everyone of their behaviors from the moment they step on the bus in mass, through the halls, classrooms and cafeterias and then back out the door. Much of the problem is rooted in this expectation that teachers serve as individual specialists for each student but given operational conditions which make that impossible. I don't see any other profession, other than education expecting specialized service from one professional for 25 customers at once. Quit assuming that teachers are incompetent and start creating working conditions which support the objective.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone find me a school which endorses a policy which says harrassment and bullying is acceptable?

Lets face it, making another law isn't going to do anything but siphon more education dollars into the pockets of attorneys and create reactionary responses from school districts.

If this is such a significant issue then why doesn't our government make a real investment into dealing with it. How much money have fed's doled out pimping states to accept common core? Compare this to their investment in addressing this issue. Last time I looked my Title funding hasn't increased and our state doesn't even send Safe School funds any longer.

We spend tons on driving kids to school on buses, we spend tons on feeding kids at school, we spend tons on vendor assessments and curriculum but how much funding and real training do we receive for combatting harrassment in a meaninful and differentiated fashion.

I am tired of folks thinking that teachers just turn a blind eye and that all anyone has to do is just tell kids to stop and they will immediately and forever more cease the unacceptable behavior.

Legistlation doesn't help me in my classroom management. Diversity of strategies, consistency of the school culture and financial/operational support for which combats conditions which cultivate harrassment. Cut my class sizes so I can come to know my kids better and stop cramming so many kids into one big consolodated school. This issue is not about rules, it is about relationships.

Anonymous said...

If you want to do something Mr. President, get our economy fired up so the local tax base can sustain the ever increasing burden which is being shifted from the feds and state coffers to local responsibility.

Stimulus was nice but we need long term solutions and tax reform. Don't don't preach to me about platitudes and your serious mandates while our educational system is begin gutted by a lack of financial support.

Byron C said...

I strongly agree with Obama on the issue of bullying. Students frequently fall victim to bullying, which can sometimes scar them for life. Bullying can cause children to feel worthless, not wanting to go to school. If the child does not even want to go to school, do you really expect them to learn anything? Bullying can be a hard issue to tackle, especially with the emerging "cyber-bullying". Though I am not completely in favor of parents trying to collect damages from the schools for bullying, I do believe it is a step in the right direction. So far nothing else seems to be working, so maybe the fear of losing money will encourage schools to come up with new anti-bully policies. It is nice to see Obama actually looking into this issue, as it is a huge problem our country needs to address.

Richard Day said...

April 25, 2012 9:42 AM: I don't know that I can't name a specific school. But how about a state?

Last I heard, Tennessee was considering a law that would allow students to speak out against homosexuality, if that's what their religious beliefs call for. Michigan, too. Supporters claim the issue is about protecting the free-speech rights of students who want to express their views on homosexuality. But gay rights advocates called it a "license to bully."...

Until about 2000, the courts were pretty clear that expression aimed at harming another person was not protected. But since then, the issue has been muddied by a couple of conservative court rulings that cast doubt on whether it is OK to single out LGBT folks for abuse.

The Tennessee bill is a top priority for the conservative Family Action Council, which says its intent is to clarify that unpopular beliefs don't constitute bullying. Not everybody buys that argument.

Gay rights groups say there's a fine line between protecting academic discourse and protecting hate speech aimed at gays.

Bills like the one in TN are why LGBT groups see a need for specific legislation.

Also, in my judgment, there is more attention being paid to the issue following a recent increase in suicides related to gay bashing. I see more articles on the subject in the literature and I was even asked to present on the topic this summer because international groups are interested in the topic as well.

I'd like to think that most teachers wold not stand by and watch hurtful behavior go on in their class, no matter what that behavior is. But the evidence supports a conclusion that some teachers not only stand by, but provide an environment where such bullying can go on.

April 25, 2012 9:47 AM: I agree that the economic issues in America are huge and extend to the schools. And it may be fair to blame the president for bailing out banks instead of state governments, and to some extent home owners. But the blame for inaction on remedies that might prevent future economic catastrophes belongs solely to Congress. Under their watch, (or lack thereof) the same abuses that crippled our housing industry could occur again.

Anonymous said...

April 25, 2012

That is what worries me when Washington (all three branches) starts deciding it is going to get involved with matters which we simple little states don't seem to be handling correctly according to the current situational/political climate. It seems like what we end up with is legislation/executive orders/court rulings that try to be a one size fits all response that results in more work for those it impacts than it does practical, positive results.

Not to get off point, but immigration is a good example of this type of confusion currently before the supreme court. Border control is constitutionally a federal responsibility but you have states trying to create their own laws to address illegal aliens. Feds say they are just interested in catching law breaking illegals, states want to look for them all due perceived financial drain. Accusations of racial profiling, electorate pandering and zenaphobila are flying in all directions. Feds say it is not state turf and that wide scale sweeps would place a burden on their processing system. States say they are just enforcing the laws which the feds have created but don't enforce. (Not a big Obama fan but facts are facts and the numbers indicate that illegal immigration is actually down and that this administration has captured and deported more illegals than the previous administration.) Now Supreme Court is trying to split hairs between a federal constitutional jurisdiction and states' desire to reduce illegal immigrants within their own borders. Some ask how a state law which supports a federal responsibility be unconstitutional? My point is that I have very little faith in legislative or executive branches making decisions which are going to truly help me in my day to day existance in school.

To some, the LGBT voice is distracting or unfortunately even alienating some folks from what should be a pretty commonly shared belief - teachers should ensure that kids feel safe and are not picked on at school. I mean no disrespect to any LGBT student or teacher but it is my understand that LGBT folks probably comprise about 15% of our general population by some estimates. A number of recent student surveys indicate that hassement/bullying is experienced by three or four times this percentage. As educators we should be protecting all students, everyday regardless of what we or they believe and we should be able to accomplish this without some sort of federal legislation.

Dalton Gahafer said...

I am glad to see that there is a stand being taken to further diminish the act of bullying. Being bullied is a demoralizing and social crippling form of harassment and can have long lasting and damaging effects of the growth of an individual... I know from experience. And some students are not lucky enough to shake off those effects and move on through life like I did. Some students are more susceptible to actually believe the cruel things that they are being mocked for and let it leave them feeling useless. In extreme cases, it can lead to the feeling of being completely isolated and unloved which can bring on suicide. I am glad to be around for this new legislation and hope it has an amazingly positive effect on the act of bullying.

Anonymous said...

So we are going to lay the hammer down on schools that are suppose to be creating caring cultures and stopping bullying from kids who parents let them sit at home and watch reality TV which revels in presenting inappropriate behavior and sensationalizing "punking" people. Parents who buy their kids some of the most violently graphic games ever created, allow them to create and cruise social media unsupervised or montior and don't lift one finger to guide or montior what their kids are doing on their I-phones - devises with greater capacity for communication than the White House or a TV news network probably had 10 years ago. It is crazy, we invest more effort testing and monitoring a kid driving a car within the county border than we do their ability to text, send photo graphs or communicate with anyone on the face of the earth who is electronically capable of connecting with.

If parents aren't going to teach their kids not to bully as well as being proactive in combating it within their social groups and they are not going to monitor their kids modes' of communication which they have provided them, I don't see how schools are ever going to be successful at combating this behavior. It find it particularly hypocritical that we always hear about parents coming to the school to want engagement when their kid is being harrassed but no one comes knocking on your door wanting action against their own child for being a bully. Seems like parents only want to be engaged when the percieve their child is the victim and not when they are the victimizer - are they uninformed, indifferent or supportive of that type of behavior because anyway about it, that is what will stop bullying not some piece of legislation from Washington.