EWA Backgrounder on Bullying
Following a rash of suicides around the country, especially after anti-gay harassment, schools, school districts, reporters, and even federal education officials are paying attention to the consequences of student bullying.
Among other examples over the past year:
A word of caution when covering suicides: The roots of suicide are often complex and can’t be blamed on a single factor. Reporters should tread carefully while covering a suicide blamed on bullying. Emily Bazelon of Slate Magazine dissected the suicide of Phoebe Prince, which was blamed on bullies at her school, and found it more complicated than the initial coverage had suggested.
Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Education, sent an Oct. 26 letter advising school districts that many acts of bullying may violate laws and regulations enforced by the department’s Office for Civil Rights. She warned that schools may run afoul of those rules by failing to eliminate harassment based on students’ race, color, national origin, sex, or disability.
“[E]ven when bullying or harassment is not a civil rights violation,” the letter added, “schools should still seek to prevent it in order to protect students from the physical and emotional harms that it may cause.” This fact sheet summarizes key points of the letter, which is covered in these stories:
U.S. Campaign takes on anti-gay bullying at school, Nick Anderson, The Washington Post, Oct. 26, 2010
Help Stop Bullying, U.S. Tells Educators, Sam Dillon, The New York Times, Oct. 26, 2010
The 2010 Report Card, released Oct. 26, 2010, by the Josephson Institute for Ethics, finds that half of students have bullied others and nearly half were bullied themselves.
Bullying, compiled by the Medline Plus service of the National Institutes of Health, offers a long list of resources on the topic.
Helping Kids Deal With Bullies, published on the KidsHealth website of the Nemours Center for Children’s Health Media, offers information for parents.
This NIH abstract, Clueless or powerful? Identifying subtypes of bullies in adolescence, describes a study published in September 2010.
This NIH abstract, “School, neighborhood, and family factors are associated with children's bullying involvement,” describes a nationally representative longitudinal study published in May 2009.
Standing Up Against School Bullying, Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki, Detroit Free-Press, Oct. 26, 2010
When Bullying Turns Deadly: Can It Be Stopped? Jason Fulford, TIME Magazine, Oct. 14, 2010
Stop Bullying, Speak Up, CNN Special Coverage
5 Teen Suicides Put Focus on Bullying Issues in Mentor, Peter Krouse, The Plain Dealer, Oct. 7, 2010
Education Week Spotlight on Bullying dated May 11, 2010, assembles coverage of the topic.
Become a Bully Magnet, Claudia Kalb, Newsweek, Oct. 7, 2008
Journalists and activists have devoted increased attention in recent months to the issue of bullying of students who are gay or perceived to be so.
Religious Undercurrent Ripples Through Anti-Gay Bullying, Barbara Bradley Hagerty, National Public Radio, Oct. 26, 2010
Suicide surge: Schools confront anti-gay bullying, David Crary, The Associated Press, Oct. 9, 2010
Suicides Have Parents Questioning District Policies, Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio, Sept. 23, 2010
It Gets Better Project offers videos and other materials aimed at informing young people about the lives of adults who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered. `
Anti-Bullying Resources, Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, A National Report on School Bullying, GLSEN
Bullying and Gay Youth, Mental Health America
Safe Schools Improvement Act, a bill pending before Congress
Some articles and resources focus specifically on the growing problem of online bullying.
In Norton, Teachers and Students Can’t Be ‘Friends’, Adam Ragusea, WBUR, Oct. 25, 2010
Cyberbullying Research Center, co-directed by associate professors at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Cyberbullying, Crime Prevention Council
Electronic Aggression, Center for Disease Control and Prevention section on Youth Violence
Electronic Media and Youth Violence, CDC Brief on Cyber-Bullying
Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, run by Nancy Willard, who wrote the first book on ethical and legal questions around cyber bullying
Education Writers Association
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