April 23rd, 2009
08:40 PM ET

Bullied to death: Addressing harassment and suicide prevention in schools

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2007/LIVING/personal/09/06/bullies/art.classroom.gi.jpg]Charles Robbins, Executive Director & CEO, The Trevor Project and
Eliza Byard, PhD, Executive Director, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network

The impacts of language and behavior can be deadly, especially in a school environment where young people are already highly impressionable and vulnerable. Unfortunately, this difficult lesson has been conveyed many times when young people resort to drastic and permanent measures to escape the despair of enduring constant bullying and harassment at school.

It is deeply disturbing that on April 6, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from Springfield, Mass., hanged himself with an extension cord in his family’s home after being subjected to continuous anti-gay bullying and harassment at his middle school. It is equally as disheartening that on April 16, less than two weeks later, Jaheem Herrera, an 11-year-old fifth-grader from DeKalb County, Ga., also hanged himself at home after being the subject of anti-gay taunts from his classmates. These were two completely separate and isolated instances, but the tragic and preventable nature of each unfortunate loss of life remains the same.

Neither Carl nor Jaheem identified as gay, yet their peers’ defamatory language and hurtful behaviors broke the barriers of sexual orientation and gender identity. Being taunted as “faggot,” “queer” or “homo” by classmates is offensive and demeaning to any student – straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning alike.

Carl is the fourth middle school student this year to complete suicide due to bullying, and Jaheem was still in elementary school. Older students are also at a high risk, as suicide is one of the top three causes of death among 15 to 24-year-olds and the second leading cause of death on college campuses. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and those who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to do so.

Two of the top three reasons secondary school students said their peers were most often bullied at school were actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, according to a 2005 report by GLSEN and Harris Interactive. In addition, The Trevor Project fields tens of thousands of calls from young people each year, both straight and LGBT-identified, with rejection and harassment by peers being one of the top five issues reported by callers.

In the same GLSEN and Harris report, more than a third of middle and high school students said that bullying, name-calling and harassment is a somewhat or very serious problem at their school. Furthermore, two-thirds of middle school students reported being assaulted or harassed in the previous year and only 41% said they felt safe at school.

Enough is enough. It is time for school administrators, educators, parents, students and the government to work together to stop bullying and harassment in schools. Furthermore, we must teach young people to understand the profound impact of words and actions, and to recognize depression and suicidal ideations amongst their peers. By helping young people take responsibility for their actions and respect their peers, and simultaneously empowering them with the knowledge and skills they need to understand when their classmates are in crisis, we can work toward ending the dual epidemics of school bullying and youth suicide once and for all.

We as parents, teachers and concerned citizens can do our part to protect students by speaking out and demanding that anti-bullying and harassment programs and suicide prevention education are mandated in all schools. We can seek commitment from the government to end bullying by training educators on how to effectively intervene, teaching students to respect and help one another, and ensuring that all students know how to reach out to a peer who may be in crisis. We must lead by example and remember that the language we choose is easily repeated by young people. We must listen to children when they reach out for help, and demonstrate to them that we will be understanding and non-judgmental if they need to talk.

Days like the GLSEN-sponsored National Day of Silence bring attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. On this day, thousands of students call for practical, appropriate interventions that work, hoping to move us closer to a future where every child can go to school free from fear. Weeks including the National Suicide Prevention Week encourage programs to increase suicide prevention efforts, including initiatives supported by The Trevor Project to protect LGBT youth.

It is our hope that in memory of Carl and Jaheem, and in honor of all young people who have completed suicide after enduring constant torment at school, we will be able to work together to promote school environments that celebrate diversity and encourage acceptance of all people. Only then will we be confident that our children are receiving the respect and education they deserve today in order to become the successful and equality-minded leaders of tomorrow.

The Trevor Project is the non-profit organization that operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. The Trevor Project was established in 1998 to promote acceptance of LGBTQ youth, and to aid in crisis and suicide prevention among that group.

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Filed under: Education • Gay & Lesbian Issues
soundoff (181 Responses)
  1. Craig

    We can view bullying the same way we view torture. It becomes even worse when we think how little it takes to break down an 11 year old. The biggest problem for the victim is that there is no recourse when your being harassed by someone who knows what buttons to push. You want to kill or cry, and you get in trouble for just watching a fight anymore. Schools used to handle problems personally; in house. Now you get called to the principles office to be arrested by the local police. Typical American knee-jerk reation.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  2. DavidArizona

    My son, when he was in grade school was a very shy and skinny kid.
    He was picked on once in a while. But there was this one kid who got a little too physical. I told my son that he needed to stand up for himself verbally. I told him that most bullies don't like to be confronted.
    Well, ,this bully was tormenting my child. The school was informed but the bullying resumed. I told my son to defend himself, if need be, and I would stand by him. One day the bully pushed my son and my son pushed him back. My son was disciplined by the school for violence. The teacher who witnessed the bullying even admitted that yes my son was pushed first. The victim was punished along with the assailant.

    This is why we have bullies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 23, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  3. Clark

    Being meek and shy, I was bullied plenty as a kid in school. The concern about bullying now should seem great. But frankly, rather than have protective parents, teachers and advocates take up for me, I wonder if I would be better off today if I had just pushed back–even if I had lost the physical fight–I might have made the bullying too much trouble and I could have moved on.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  4. Tiana

    My 11 year old son says his school officals do NOTHING to stop bullying

    April 23, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  5. Rev A C Liles

    My wife and I read her anti-bullying book BECAUSE YOU MATTER to 2nd and 3rd graders in the Twin Cities area schools. We always ask how many kids have already experienced bullying. Usually more than 80% raise their hands. Bullying in elementary schools begins in the early grades. Children must be told and retold of their inherent self-worth. This awareness of their inner goodness can be a preventive deterrent when bullies appear with their negative comments. The main affirmation in her book to every child is: "YOU ARE AWESOME, AMAZING AND WONDERFUL TOO, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, YOU ARE IT'S TRUE. LIFE WOULDN'T BE THE SAME WITHOUT YOU, BECAUSE YOU MATTER, YOU REALLY REALLY DO."

    April 23, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  6. John in Seattle, WA

    Bullying IS a natural and normal part of growing up, especially for boys. Just because some women (feminists) say it isn't, doesn't make it so. Even as adults, men thrive on insulting each other. Just watch an episode of "Wrecks to Riches" or "Deadliest Catch".

    If we wish to stop these kinds of tragic suicides, we must toughen up our children. These children killed themselves because they were taught to be hurt and offended by words. I place more blame on the parents for this than the bully. We need to return to the days of "Sticks and stones may break my bones..." Only the weak minded are hurt by language. Teach our children to pop the bully in the mouth, instead of crying about words. This kind of thing didn't happen when I was a child, because we didn't have liberals telling us how hurt I should be by the words of an idiot.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  7. D.Cooper

    My heart goes out to those families. I was a victim over 30 yrs. Nothing will change no matter what the school say. I had a kindergarten teacher tell me once she don't allow my child to tattle. So how can a child feel when they can"t confide in anyone there?

    April 23, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  8. Valeria

    I`m Brazilian and I`ve just watched Colorosso at TV. Bullying is a real problem everywhere but not faced as it should be. It`s time to recognize it as a silent violence and not wait until a suicide happens to talk about it.
    I`ve lived for a year in US and I was able to study bullying because here in Brazil `we`re just beginning to make research about the subject. The number of teens and children suicides in US are really great (maybe because here we don`t have statistics), but I could see while living there that educators are more aware of the problem.
    I would like to hear from you

    April 23, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  9. Bob

    I'm glad to see that you are bringing to light the issue of bullying and slurs targeted at gay or perceived gay boys. Although I am 50 yrs old now and have been able to move beyond my childhood, I spent my entire childhood being bullied, beat up and harassed for being gay. The psychic damage and pain never goes away. I hope your report will help bring this issue to the same level as racial hatred and crimes.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:46 pm |
  10. Linda Lawrence

    Another reason to switch to the voucher system. I really do not think that the administration in schools care.

    They do not want any problem, many of the teachers are gay. The students are afraid of being gay.

    When I taught, I had children actually raise their hands and say, "I'm afraid that when I grow up, I will be gay."

    The teachers usually do not really care what is being said. Their motto is usually, "Don't get involved in the student"s lives.

    This school system has been the same for hundreds of years, and it is not effective. Our students are not getting the education that they deserve.

    We need the voucher system. Private schools funded by vouchers will create a school invironment sp. that is a safe place to learn with teachers that really do have the ability to teach and care enough for the student to see that each child is given the time needed to accomplish this tastk of education.

    NOT Being done in the public system of today.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:46 pm |
  11. Jeffrey H. Horovitz, M.D.

    Children who are bullied in grade school, when they are innocent and vulnerable, are left with deep psychological wounds of low self esteem that they carry throughout life.

    The recent suicides are just the tip of the iceberg of the pain and suffering going on in school from bullies!

    April 23, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  12. Amelia

    I think it's critical to look at the parents in the case of bullying; children don't come up with this kind of verbal assault by themselves. Bullies often suffer from low self-esteem and come from troubled homes and in turn,attack others. The school needs to address the source of the problem, first.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  13. Darrell Johnson

    Bullying frequently begins at home. Many times I have seen the homophobic parent spouting anti gay rhetoric around their school age children. The child then thinks it is OK to act out on those same actions and frequently those same actions are supported by their pals.Bullys usually have a crowd of supporters around them aging the whole thing on. Solving this problem begins at home and then extends to the school.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  14. nea

    Schoolhouse bullying starts at home. Children who target each other as gay, homosexual or "other" learn from the adults around them. Look to where the children are learning these very ideas. These adults should also be held accountable.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  15. Nessa

    How did we handle bulliying years ago?
    Well...back then we had real recess time to begin with!
    We were able to fight back as long as we followed certain rules like:
    1. Don't be the first to hit.
    2. If someone does hit you ....by all means deck them!
    3. If I find out that you did this in self defense I'll back you all the way! The school officials and teachers will be tired of me camping out at their location as a parent. And God help the bully and their parents if I find out who they are!!
    See we've taken away a lot of the power kids use to have and somehow we've stopped backing our kids for what we believe in.
    Even parents are scaired of disciplining their own kids for fear child support services will take them away...
    And the police may even have limited means when it come to in school bullying.
    Something's got to give!!
    Teachers are left with a similar fear.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  16. Markum Megale

    hey, i am bullied to death were i go to school, it has slowed down now because of what my dad helped me with, but i also wrote an essay to NPR this i believe, they accepted it and it has been published. what the school said is crap they do nothing! i would love to get to talk to you anderson about this issue anyone. plz let me know what i can do to help i have given my essay to my teachers at school and i am slowly spreading the word. this is a very limited comment i have a life story of bullieing plz contact me. i am 16 years old, in Philomath High School. thanks. it is up to you guys know. 🙂

    April 23, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  17. Tracy Moreland

    My nephew who is 12 years olld is being bullied in school. On his way home from school a gang of kids followed him. He was thrown to the grown and kicked by several kids. A couple of days later a knife was found in his book bag. The school called the police and they took him to the police station in handcuffs. When his father came to the police station, he was handcuffed to the bench. Today in school, while he was in lunch, one of the boys took his book bag and poured all of his books out on the floor to humilate him. Prior to this incident his parents informed the school and they told them they had to go to the police. How can they handle this. He is depressed and does not like school anymore.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  18. Belinda Walker

    Unfortunately, this is a tragic situation that perhaps could have been avoided. I believe that parents should teach their children that to take one's own life is not the solution. There are other avenues to solve life's problems other than committing suicide. I completed my thesis in "Conflict Resolution along with the existence of gangs. Actually, the real solution to withstanding bullying is to have tough skin. Then, you need to know who you are and that what people say about you does not define you.

    God created everybody to respect our differences and embrace oneself's with dignity and integrity. I regret that this young boy took his own life, now he will miss out on a lifetime of not knowing his full purpose in life. This young lad let his enemies get the best of him!!!

    April 23, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  19. shirin chatoo

    This is devastating, my heart goes out to the families involved

    I have two kids and I fear this everyday, I want to keep my kids safe and I need the schools to be on board! The bullies involved should be expelled and sent to a juvenile facility and this should be the norm

    My heart bleeds for these kids:-(

    April 23, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  20. bill elliott

    Teachers who have had reported "bullies" in class could discourage this activity by bringing a dress to class and advise that if any bullies or bullying are reported in his/her class, the bully would be required to wear the dress, in class, for a week.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  21. Monica Wharton

    My son was bullied in middle school (has an invisible disability). I tried desperately to work with school staff and getting a anti bully program that is implemented throughout the school. The principal said it was a "middle school " problem and offered no help. I couldn't allow my son to stay in this environment, as his interest in school changed, grades went from high to mediocre. He began creating illnesses to stay home and when he went to school was often at the nurses office. The faculty/staff in the school need to be responsible for keeping all kids safe and the parentts should demand change what is happening throughout the nation with kids bullying others, bystanders just watching and many victims. I ended up removing my son from the public school setting and have been happily homeschooling him for the past three years. He is flourishing and doing well in school and socially too. He begins college when he turns 16 (free in Florida!) and is a wonderful son and kid. He has had years of training of how to deal with bullies... now it is time for bullies and bystanders to be trained and for the adults to be responsible for keeping kids safe in school and on the bus.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  22. Jeanne Quagliano

    I am dealing with this a your show is being aired. My 14 year old son came home today AGAIN, just sick and tired of the bullying of calling him gay. We have 6 kids all ours (4 girls and 2 boys). He is not gay, but gets a long very well with the girls at school because he has several sisters. He is a good athele, but also good at theater, does that make him gay...NO The real problem is not if someone is or isn't the jerks who are bullying with words are worst than the old physcial bullying where at least you could hit back... These kids getting bullied don't want to get suspended, they usually are good kids who don't go along with the normal jerky kid who wants everyone at school to impress him so he has the power of the coolest.. These kids getting bullied don't care about being the most popluar.. This bullying is so sudle that the teachers and school are clueless. It is so big now it is rediculious and everywhere. The parents of these bullies are part of the problem, but they too never take responsiblility.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  23. Tim Johnson

    The problem with these bullies is that these kids have no respect for anyone. They dont respect the teachers, adults, parents, or other children. I have seen this first hand while helping with afterschool activities. Their parents are to blame. If you dont teach your children respect and manors this is what happens.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  24. Helene Giguere

    I wonder if today's schools tell students that there is Nothing wrong with being gay. We'll never know what these two young men thought about that word, it seems they thought it was a bad word.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  25. tom w

    Bullying is about the worst crime you can have in the school system. No matter how many rules there are in the school system, it will not change. The only way to change this is to get to the source, the parents of the bullies, children always reflect the views of there parents. Now more than ever with the political anger there is now, extremes on both sides of those issues just add fuel to the fire

    April 23, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  26. Jane Ogden

    How do 11 year old children LEARN how to hang themselves...this is the SAD part?! Basalt, CO

    April 23, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  27. Insia Raza

    This is very cruel and horrible. Kids must learn, that if they dislike someone, try to talk it out or just say a small hello and leave. You don't have to bully someone just because they might act different, or they "Don't Fit in" doesn't mean that you torment them until they can't take it. That is very horrible, and that means that you sort of commited a murder. I pay my consoles to Carl and Jaheem, and to their families.
    May God Bless them.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  28. Laura

    I'm not a parent, but is it possible that the kids who are bullying actually are enjoying the fact that you're 'talking' about them without mentioning their names (i.e. are they twittering about this???)

    I'm so glad that I'm a 1950 boomer and we didn't have this.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  29. Nick Smith

    I am a sophmore in High School, I get picked on everyday because I am overweight but, I understand that they have issues, but it still doesn't make me want to kill myself

    April 23, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  30. Ally

    These bullies need to be aggressively prosecuted. I was bullied as a kid and can attest to the fact that the schools are not addressing the issue, and teachers often look the other way.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:39 pm |
  31. Catharine

    It comes down to teaching children the basics of civility and respect. Civility towards one another is about as as rare and ancient as Latin. One connect is that people believe they can express their opinions through bullying whether verbally or physically...case in point...Perez Hylton. Consider he may disagree with Miss California but the expression of his opinion of her was a form of bullying. And we are becoming desensitized as to how his words may affect another, and give credence to him despite his bulllying. Right or Wrong/Conserative or Liberal...the rules of discussion need to include civiity so it won't lead to bullying.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  32. Bryce

    It is sad what has happened to the children, but are kids these days that weak, i remember as a kid being bullied and know many others that were bullied and we are all fine. Is technology really turning use into winy wimps

    April 23, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  33. maria

    As a teacher, our hands our tied. We send the students to the office and talk to the parents all the time for bad behavior. It is up to the adminstrator to decide the repurcussions. They have told us we have to be under a certain quota for suspensions. Nothing is done just a slap on the wrist but it is not enough. Parents need to do their job too. Parents enable their kids to behave and talk like that to others. Teachers do not have the final say on the outcome. For some kids being sent to the office is no big deal. They dont care.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  34. marina Lawson

    This IS a public health issue. Having anti-bullying, zero tolerance policies, signing pledges .. it barely scratches the surface.

    My son has been to hell and back. As a parent, let me tell you, you can talk until you are blue in the face. Often, teachers and parents of bullies tend to have this "it is part of growing up" attitude.

    Barbara Coloroso is right on the money about how poorly schools handle it ... and what schools truly need to do.

    Children like these two young boys who died, my son and countless others who suffer in silence have the right to go to school. All children have the right to feel safe.

    This issue has reached epidemic levels.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  35. Jeffrey

    We should feel blessed that New York State has DASA (Dignity against all students act) – The larger issue here is that these children have not even been given the chance to find themselves. There is also another side of this story that has not been reported – What about the students who do not commit suicide? This bullying follows you through the rest of your life. This effects your self confidence through out your life. As I embark on my 10 year reunion this July I wonder do people change or am I walking into the lions den? What do you think?

    April 23, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  36. TinaTinaTina

    You can have all the programs in school you wish until you get to the "root cause" of why the kids are bullying it will not stop.

    The children are getting it from home. they hear everything in the house you think children do not? So they are modeling what they hear.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  37. brad warner

    Anderson: related to this story, you should investigate the suicides of 4 african american female teens at Schenectady ny high school in upstate ny. The suicides were evidently related to bullying and gang activity. This has devastated the community in an already fragile and troubled area.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  38. My Sons Mom

    The current state of bullying programs are NOT working! I am a mother to a 9 yr old boy who is hospitalized for severe depression, and his comments to his doctors have been that his biggest stress is the bullying he gets from so called peers at schools. He doesn't have gender issues, but is a small child, so he becomes a target. Officials turn a blind eye, and this has VERY SERIOUS consequences. The "sticks and stones" solution to bullying is not a real solution. It can happen to anyone's child, and it's time that we do everything we can to stop it!

    April 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  39. Daniel

    My heart goes out to the families that have lost these children. I agree that everyone needs to take responsibility in these matters (families, schools, government, etc.) – especially parents. I don't want to accuse "all" parents of not properly training their children. However, you have to wonder what kinds of families bullies are "borne" out of... Is a bully born a bully or is it some type of "learned" behavior? I shudder to think that these same bullies who taunted and teased these poor eleven year olds are now saying (and possibly bragging) that these kids deserved to die. I really hope these so-called bullies are not reveling in this horrible event. I hope that these tragedies serve as a "wake up" call to children, families, schools, and the government that something should be done. Regardless of the situation, we really do need to be mindful of the words we say and the actions we take. We don't have to agree with or understand someone's viewpoints, sexuality, opinions, etc. However, we need to respect people as human beings and show love and compassion as much as possible. We should not condone violence, endangerment, abuse, harrassment, etc.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  40. Joi Cotton

    Such a shame. Bullying remains a real issue in the classroom, and should not be taken as headline news to be forgotten when the next big story arrives.

    It is shamefully true that hundreds of thousands of children's self-esteems fall irreparably low under the careful watch of our federal school systems because of bullying. In fact, far from stellar test scores, our nation's taglines for education trends and outcomes tend to lean toward the tragic to the quite unbelievable.

    And I normally don't say this but, I blame the teachers. Teachers are really responsible for eliminating, or at the very least reducing bullying inside of schools and must start effectively teaching anti-bullying practices to positively change school cultures. What's sad to me is that most teachers act counterproductively by perpetuating bullying in their own classrooms. When teachers do things like allow cliques to form out of the class, or don't encourage team building or have whole-class engagement activities, they are essential setting the stage for bullies to conquer and divide.

    How many times have you heard an educator innocently gripe, or comment about their ‘class pets’ or a notorious ‘bad-kid’? Or the ‘slow learners’, or the ‘ELLs that can’t speak the language?’ Such labels, and our acceptance of such labels denotes our position on the cultural proficiency continuum as low, as well as teach intolerance of anything different , in other words, we are producing serial killers in the making.

    It all starts and ends with culturally proficient classroom management. But when you only pay teachers for six hours of work, what can you expect?

    April 23, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  41. Gigi

    My daughter has attended 5 funerals since her freshman high school year. It is now almost the end of her senior year. This will be the only year knock on wood that she hasn't attended a funeral. Teen suicide isn't just brought on by gay and lesbian issues. Our school district has the highest suicide rate in the state, and none of them was for gay or lesbian issues. Tackle that one and see if you can make sense of it. Kids are cruel to each other and not just one group of kids. These kids came from all kinds of "circles". Don't lump one problem in there because of a group. Take a good hard look at all teens, how many of them are on anti-depressants. How many of them feel like outcasts because of the music they listen to, how they dress, they don't come from money, they weigh too much. Give these kids a voice too.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:05 pm |
  42. Kathie Boyce

    Children learn what they live and if you have ever dealt with a chronic bully and his parents, it is usually obvious where he (or she) gets it. Schools pay lip service to having zero tolerance for bullying but it continues unchecked. Homeschool is becoming the answer for many because parents cannot count on schools to protect their children.

    April 23, 2009 at 10:00 pm |
  43. JohnCarl

    As "shocking" as yet another recent suicide of such a young child is, it's even more shocking to realize that it's not so shocking at all. I wish that more people were aware of the work that the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) does to make schools safe and free from bullying regardless of a youth's sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. This organization is a leading clearinghouse of research related to bullying.

    I was recently in Washington DC by special invitation of GLSEN and am proud to have conveyed the need for safe schools, along with fellow participants from 25 states, making 82 visits on Capitol Hill, many with our respective Representative and/or Senators.

    I strongly urge people to email their Representative and ask him/her to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act. It's essential to secure schools for our youth, whomever they are and however they identify.

    April 23, 2009 at 9:55 pm |
  44. natalie, lebanon TN

    It is intersting to me that there seem to be only two ways that bullying is dealt with. Anti-bullying shool programs are suppose to either (from what I have seen reported) educate victims on how to deal with bullys or punish the bully. I think they should focus more on the children that are the bullies, People, children alike, bully out of fear. Fear that they themselves may be teased and this takes the focus off of them. Most bullies are cowards and if stood up to would tun away, or at least quit bullying. They are not going to stop because you tell them it will emotionally scar the other child. They are immature and that want to hurt the other child. It makes them feel better about themselves sadly. Unfotunatly and I know this is looked down on but, the only way to shut a bully up is for the victim to punch the kids lights out and fight like a man. We don't need self help couses we need kick boxing lessons.

    April 23, 2009 at 9:44 pm |
  45. Connie

    I am a preschool teacher and during our circle time we discuss, role play and talk about feelings one experiences when bullied. I have ZERO tolerance in my classroom for any type of bullying, and I believe we should start our children off very young learning to tolerate all people of all walks of life. I am a big advocate to accept others as they are and to acknowledge that no matter what we look like or act like, we still have feelings. I think you are never too young to learn this valuable lesson!

    April 23, 2009 at 9:15 pm |
  46. Annie Kate

    Not all bullying is about sexual orientation – some is over how the kids dress, or who they hang out with or don't hang out with, what they think politically, etc. There are all sorts of reasons kids get bullied; the list seems endless at times but it boils down to being different in some sense than the "majority" or the group doing the bullying. Teaching respect for diversity would be a good start for all of us.

    April 23, 2009 at 9:07 pm |
  47. Adrien Asaff

    This is a very real and upsetting problem in today's schools. What is equally as disturbing is the cyberbullying that goes on....text messaging, instant messaging, social networking websites. I have done a lot of research on this as I am a school therapist in training and currently work in a therapeutic day school. The trick with cyber bullying is that it usually happens off school grounds, so the lines are blurry in terms of how much a school can intervene. We must educate parents and work as a community.

    April 23, 2009 at 9:05 pm |
  48. Courtney Jordan

    Education has to start within the homes and school. With the suicide rate increasing among children and teenagers we need to make a change! Why not make it mandatory that children be taught mental health and compassion in school? When is it going to be okay to openly say, "I'm Depressed" without someone thinking you are crazy? Why are the counselors in school not picking up on these type of things? Together we can erase the stigma and save lives!!!!

    April 23, 2009 at 9:05 pm |
  49. Amanda

    Thank you for writing this! Parents need to take more initiative with their children to ensure they aren't participating in hurting and destroying others. No responsible parent should tolerate their child being abusive to others. We can and MUST do something to destroy bullying.

    April 23, 2009 at 9:03 pm |
  50. KAthy Cunningham

    I work at a childrens mental hospital in San Antonio. I work closely with schools to provide them info on different issues with their kids. No adult can know how horrible it is to have to go to a place everyday where you are tortured, belitteled and there is nothing you can do about it. If a teacher tries to help by punishing the bully, they become heros to the other kids and it gets worse. We have to help these kids in any way we can and teach the bullies compassion and understanding.

    April 23, 2009 at 9:00 pm |
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