Bullying is a sad fact of life for many of our children. According to the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (US Dept. of Health & Human Services), 1 in 5 teens had been bullied at school in the last year. The government’s Find Youth Info web site (findyouthinfo.gov) also reports some recent bullying statistics:
- Bullying is most common among middle school children, where almost half of students may be bully victims
- Between 15 and 25 percent of students overall are frequent victims of bullying, and 15 to 20 percent of students bully others often
- About 20 percent of students experience physical bullying at some point in their lives, while almost a third experience some type of bullying
- Cyber bullying statistics show about 8 percent of students have been the victims of a cyber bully
- Studies have indicated that females may be the victims of bullying more often than males; males are more likely to experience physical or verbal bullying, while females are more likely to experience social or psychological bullying
- Students with disabilities are more likely to be the victims of bullying
- Homosexual and bisexual teens are more likely to report bullying than heterosexual teens.
In an effort to address these sobering statistics, on January 5, 2011, NJ Governor Chris Christie signed into law an act concerning harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) in school settings that amended various parts of the statutory law, including the requirements for the prevention and intervention of HIB on and off school grounds, at school-sponsored functions and on school buses.
In compliance with the Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Law, also known as the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, the South Brunswick School District will be offering three (3) grade-level-specific parenting workshops to introduce parents and students to the details of the legislation, as well as to offer strategies and solutions to help parents deal with HIB issues with their children, whether bully or target.
The first workshop, for parents of elementary school students, will be held Wednesday, Oct. 19 at Crossroads North School, from 7-8:30 pm. The high school workshop will be held the following week at the high school on Tuesday, Oct. 25th; the middle school workshop two day later on Thursday, Oct. 27th, again at Crossroads North. Childcare will be available for the elementary and middle school workshops.
According to Judy McCormick, the South Brunswick School District Anti-Bullying Coordinator, the workshops are designed to be attended by parents with their children and are being presented in three parts: a two-part information session, first outlining the details of the law and then providing specific grade-level strategies for helping their children to deal with HIB issues; and finally, interactive small group activities with parents and children for more helpful strategizing and role-playing. McCormick notes that while parents are encouraged to attend the workshop with their children to receive the greatest benefit, it is not a registration requirement.
We hope you will join us at one of these workshops to find out how this important legislation affects you and your child. In the meantime, please help us to fine tune the workshops to provide the information you need most. Have you dealt with issues of bullying with your child, either as the bully or as a target of one? What is the area of greatest concern? Is cyber bullying a concern? How do you monitor the technology? Do you encourage your child to be an upstander? If so, how? Please share your stories!