April 23rd, 2009
06:58 PM ET

Educating children about bullying

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about bullying on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/23/art.barbara.coloroso.jpg caption="Barbara Coloroso teaches parents, kids and teachers about ending bullying." width=292 height=320]

Jason Rovou
AC360° Producer

Tonight, David Mattingly tells the story of 11 year-old Jaheem Herrera, who hanged himself last week after being taunted at his elementary school outside of Atlanta.

This comes just a week after AC360° discussed the suicide of 11 year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, who also hanged himself after being bullied at his school in Springfield, Mass., bullies are back in the news.

Tonight Anderson will be interviewing Barbara Coloroso, a speaker, anti-bullying coach and author of: “The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander” about what parents, teachers and kids need to know right now about stopping this cycle.

Today, 39 states have anti-bullying laws on the books. Many schools around the country have “zero-tolerance” for bullying. But do they make any difference? Coloroso says no. Check out what she has to say tonight at 10pm.

For more information and handouts about bullying and steps you can take to help your kids, go to Coloroso’s website.

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Education
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Michael Shaw / frank stout

    kAmen to Shirley's blog. There should be criminal prosecution...and right away, to send a signal to these accomplices in the murder of young children perceived to be or are, gay.

    April 25, 2009 at 1:20 am |
  2. Diana

    My son has been a victim of bulling, was pushed and kicked at the school bathroom, shoting the lights so my son couldn't see who was hitting him. School had just paid for the emergency room which my son got 7 stitches in his lip. The school principal just punished the 4 kids with social service for few days, and few weeks suspention. kids laughs at these kind of punishments.
    Should be a law to keep kids with criminal minds out of schools.

    April 25, 2009 at 12:13 am |
  3. JJ

    My son and his entire class are dealing with this kind of bullying every day in his middle school. Our school board ( Palm Beach County) has a zero tolerence, but very little is ever done to the bullies. The teachers don't want to hear from the parents, or the kids. The adminstration only acts if the parents puts it in writing then never follows up with the parents or the victim. We need to break the cycle, we need to teach our children to have VALUES and RESPECT! Students should never be afraid of going to school because they are being harassed or degraded. Parents should have the peace of mind that the children are being in a safe school. Thank you for this report, people must take a stand and not think that this is a rite of passage, it will only promote more violence, remember Columbine? Lets do something to stop this!

    Also I think this should be a mandatory class in every school, it is apparent that most parents do not teach compasion or values at home .

    April 24, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  4. Jonathan

    I think it's kind of strange that Anderson continues making the connection between the bullying about Jaheem being gay with him actually being gay. I was bullied throughout school. I was often called gay, but I never considered myself to be nor am I today homosexual. Kids at school often call other kids names, not because there's any truth to it, but because it makes the one being bullied uncomfortable. I think this is clear, but Anderson continues saying that Jaheem was gay. How should anybody know that?

    April 24, 2009 at 9:44 am |
  5. Shirley

    It is gut wrenching that this is still happening. There should be a law passed (if one is already in place) to charge the parents of the pepetrators ie the bullies and the school administration for criminal negligence that maybe these adults will sit up and take note and do something serious finally, This cannot just cannot continue, young kids having to endure such unnecessary mental torture to the extend they take their own life. Can anyone possibly imagine the agony they must have be going through??!!!

    April 24, 2009 at 9:05 am |
  6. Teresa Lee

    I'm sorry for the family's who has lost their loved ones due to the bullying and unprotected policies. My child has been bullyed by the same young lady for at least four years and nothing has been done. Also my child was clapped in the face by her principal and the school never contacted me nor have they responded to my calls. Fortunely my daughter's counselor was present when the principal clapped my daughter and the counselor called me, she also reported the incident to the school officials. The school never called me, however the counselor called me in tears saying they did nothing. The young lady who bullys my daughter has attacked my daughter twice. I have done all that I know to do. I've contacted the school principal, dean of girls, couselor, campus officers, Board of Education, Superintendent, the child parent, I've even tried to press charges against the young and the officer down town would not let me, instead he stated that I had to go through the school campus officers. I explained to him that I've tried but there is no help at the school. The only thing they did was put my child in jail for the weekend and after that placed her in long term alternative, for defending herself against the bully.
    The only response I got from the Dean of girl principal was she can not baby sit my daughter. I begged the school to put the bully policy in affect and they never tried to protect my daughter. What can I do about the Conway, Arkansas public school district.

    April 24, 2009 at 6:50 am |
  7. Rebecca Mathias

    Everytime you report on something tragic that has happened as a result of "bullying", whether it's the Colombine shootings or the recent sucides of two 11 year old boys I am taken back 45 years to when I was in high school. I was shy, self conscious, and a 6'2" female. (Before women in sports where the height might have been used!) There was a kid in my homeroom that I sat next to because of alphabetic arrangement by last name. Daily he laughed and teased me about my height, funny comments and gestures and it must have been okay for him to do this since he was a cute, popular jock because I don't remember him being asked to stop!! His actions have had a long lasting effect on me. I often wonder how I would have lived my life differetly if I had not been under his cloud of condemnation?? Today he is my neighbor, one block away. We are old people now, 60, yet every time he drives by he waves and when I see him at a store or postoffice he wants to stop and chat. To this day all I want to do to him is one swift, hard, well placed kick right between his legs and one hard swift swing with a baseball bat over his head!!!
    Maybe I'll go down to his house this evening to let him know how I still feel but first a stop at Wal Mart for the baseball bat, Huh??

    April 24, 2009 at 6:21 am |
  8. dameian

    Ok, while I have never chimed in via online to the broadcast, I felt compelled to comment on the lack of solution given to your questions on prevention. It is my opinion that the reason these two children and others like them have met such a needless fate, is due to lack of overall parental involvement in the lives of our children. These kids are smarter and brighter than you can imagine. Some of them have too much time on there hands, and too much leeway, as too there personal lives. Listen these are our children they see the world through our eyes( oh and what ever they can view on assorted medias unsupervised). When I was a child the same stuff went on. The problem is just getting bigger. No disrespect, but the word of a mother's mistakes is nothing compared to a child who grew up around it almost ten years ago. This problem is deep rooted and your barely scraping the surface. Be firm and unwavering in your lessons and actions to your children. They may not exhibit it at first but we always come around. The problem lies with the parents allowing their children to get away with literally murder. The solution is basic. If you have any doubts I will explain it to you.

    April 24, 2009 at 6:02 am |

    I would just like to add to everyones knowledge (being bullied my self as a child) children automatically bully one another due to a weakness that is visible to them and they use it as a weapon instead of hitting because now kids are finally being told that hitting is wrong at a time when domestic violence is high. We fail to recognize that children when they can not do one thing do another in it's place they don't recognize that it is wrong and they certainly don't think there are consequences to words. When I was in school they bulling did not stop until they saw me bleed that they realized it was wrong and after that they stopped. There are no programs in school that teach kids not to bully I feel that kids will do it as long as they are not able to see a consequence. Unfortunately the death of these two children (and unadvertised others) might bring awareness to others. NOW THERE IS CONSEQUENCE.

    April 24, 2009 at 6:01 am |
  10. Nancy Baxter

    If 39 states have laws against bullying, why aren't bullies being prosecuted? Are any schools making the effort to enforce the law and keep our kids safe?
    As a social worker, I hear alot of children's stories about horrible bullying and violence being perpetrated against children by children and yet I see nothing being done about it legally. Most times the teachers and staff don't or don't want to notice what is happening under their noses, in our local school system at least. Also, the school guards often show up too late or not at all. In one instance, they sat and watched a child being beaten up on their cameras and then did nothing.
    Who is legally responsible?
    In addition, CNN needs to report on the impact of gangs and gangster culture in our schools. They are the real source of teaching sadistic behavior. In my opinion, classes on bullying, school contracts etc will never be effective to overcome the powerful hold that gang thinking has on our children in this country.

    April 24, 2009 at 5:55 am |
  11. Julie Knutson

    My heart is hurting for that boy. I was bullied terribly as a skinny, flat chested, curly haired, ugly clothes girl day after day. The bullies used to hide behind cars waiting for me to walk by.I ditched school over and over ........Ya know what happened next? My mom Yup my meek mom stepped in and drove me to the bullies house and we all sat down and talked. The bullies mom had to pay back the jacket they tore up and it ended there. I saw alot of them later in life and they were miserable people and I was holding my head up high because the Adult stepped in. The Adults have the duty and responsibility to handle it immediatly. ............Teaching the children from the Minute they are born compassion, patience, understanding and the fact that we are not all the same...that is what makes our life so interesting and worth living every day and learning. Learning. Not stupid closed minds. The children are bored and feel alone so they strike out to make themselves look better. It starts from birth. Compassion with animals and homeless and enviorment. Not just breathe in and breathe out. Do good every day for something or someone.

    April 24, 2009 at 5:49 am |
  12. Robert Ruiz

    Does this include the bullying that the Democrats are utilizing in Washington right now? I've lost faith in Obama to be an agent of change. Seems like it's more of the same old politics with different taskmasters.

    April 24, 2009 at 5:43 am |
  13. john

    I went to the Ephrata High School, in PA, when one the teachers found out I was Gay her whole attitude changed. It seems it is okay that people bully you if they know or even think you are Gay, and yes teachers turn their heads.

    April 24, 2009 at 5:36 am |
  14. Lorraine

    I am in my 60's, but was a victim of bullying throughout my childhood, by my father and schoolmates, and then throughout my working life by workplace colleagues until I was laid off my job three years ago. Bullying, both the teaching of it and being victim of it, should never start in the home by teasing or bullying parents. I never developed any self-confidence as a result of my parental abuse/teasing. I was then vulnerable to bullying by classmates and then in the workplace, where in my last job bullying went from ridicule because of my extreme shyness to slander and horrendous acts. It was stopped for a time when my employer hired an attorney as COO, but when he was laid off, the bullying against me reached levels of extreme emotional suffering that I went through. I would return home each day unable to function, because of the pain I endured as a result of the workplace torture against me.

    April 24, 2009 at 2:34 am |
  15. Korbin Kraus

    As surreal as these two stories are in this day and age, are we really surprised? After all, we live in a country where all of us, children included, hear on a daily basis that our government says it's wrong for two people of the same sex to love each other and to marry. Religious organizations of all faiths say the same thing. Many even go so far as to say that if you're gay, you've got a one-way ticket to hell when you die.

    So what must our kids think?

    Well, here's my guess: The gay kids think he or she is never going to escape the hell he's experiencing – even after he dies .. so what's the point of going on? And the other kids are taught that it's just fine to torment and beat the hell out of the gay kids. On a subconscious level they must believe that our society, our government, Miss California and some God they're told to believe in – supports it.

    April 24, 2009 at 2:31 am |
  16. Justin

    There are adults, including college students and even professors, are also miserably bullied in the classroom or at the workplace. Bullying could happen to anybody, believe me, although I never did before I got bullied. There should be national day or week or month to promote the public's awareness of bullying and its many harms. AC360, take it on!

    April 24, 2009 at 2:23 am |
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