dekalb county school bullying policy 1

Alleged School Bullying Victim, Mom Speak Out On Georgia’s New Bullying Law

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‘It Was Just Pretty Much Assault Every Day’: Alleged School Bullying Victim, Mom Speak Out On Georgia’s New Bullying Law. Back to school season is in full swing and like so many other families around the country 13-year-old Alicyn and her mother Annise Mabry are busy keeping up with the demands of the school year. http://jjie.org/alleged-school-bullying-victim-mom-speak-out-on-georgias-bullying-law/40307/2

However, instead of preparing to go to a local school, Ali takes classes at home. Instead of a classroom, she logs onto her laptop for online lessons. Instead of a teacher, her mom is her instructor.

Mt Bethel Elementary Dess No Bully Zone

Schools Try to Stop Bullying Before It Starts

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Public school students and parents are seeing some changes this year in the way their schools handle bullying. That’s because of a law passed by the state Legislature last year that schools are now starting to put into practice. In a four-part series, the Southern Education Desk and the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange are examining the new law and its impact on students, families and schools. The state education department’s Garry McGiboney has been helping Georgia’s schools stop bullies since the early 1990s. But since the state Legislature passed the revamped bullying law last year, McGiboney says he’s seen a change.

Jaheem Herrera. Photo credit: smokenmirrors_photo/photobucket

Jaheem Herrera’s Suicide Inspired Lawmakers To Beef Up Georgia’s School Bullying Policies

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Jaheem Herrera’s Suicide Inspired Lawmakers To Beef Up Georgia’s School Bullying Policies, His Mother Says She’s Still Fighting For Justice

It’s been two years since Masika Bermudez lost her only son Jaheem Herrera, but the heart-wrenching emotions are still raw as if he died yesterday. “It was like a bad dream, you know,” says the metro Atlanta mother, tears welling in her eyes. “You have your son there after school and in a blink of an eye, he’s not there anymore. The last thing I can remember about my son is with a big smile on his face when I was looking through his report card and then to see him lifeless afterwards. That’s the last image I have of my son every time I close my eyes.”

Jaheem was just 11-years-old when she found him hanged in a closet in their Decatur, Ga., apartment in April of 2009.

No Bullying Allowed! Photo courtesy of Working Word via Flickr

Schools Implement New Bully Law

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In a four-part series, the Southern Education Desk and the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange are examining the new law and its impact on students, families and schools. After 11-year-old Jaheem Harrera committed suicide in 2009, some of state Rep. Mike Jacob’s constituents in DeKalb County, Ga., in suburban Atlanta, asked him to take a look at the state’s existing rules against bullying in schools. He did, and as he told an audience at a fundraiser for the group Georgia Equality last year, he didn’t like what he found. “It was so inadequate, in fact, that the Jaheem Harrera situation was not even covered by the existing law,” Jacobs said. “It only applied to grades six through 12.”

So Jacobs proposed making the state’s anti-bullying measures apply to elementary schools too.

The Truth About Bullying

I’ve been a journalist a lot longer than I’d care to admit (a lot of people mistake me for younger), so admittedly after a while the articles I write sometimes begin to blur together. However, one thing’s for sure: the name Jaheem Herrera will forever remain etched in my mind. I remember clearly the first news reports of this metro Atlanta boy’s suicide in 2009. The images of his mother, heartbroken and sobbing splashed across my television screen aren’t easy to erase. I was honored to be among the first people Masika Bermudez agreed to speak to after her son’s untimely death.

Young People Use Slurs Online, See Them As Jokes

Young people are more likely to use slurs online, and most see discriminatory language as joking, according to an Associated Press-MTV poll of 14- to 24-year-olds conducted nationwide in 2011. Seventy-one percent say they are more likely to use slurs online or in text messages than in person. Also, most young people don’t worry about whether the words they post on their cellphones and laptops could reach a wider audience or get them in trouble, according to the ABC Action News article. “People have that false sense of security that they can say whatever they want online,” Lori Pletka, 22, told the reporters. Although most people see slurs as joking — 57 percent say people are “trying to be funny” — a significant number of youth are getting upset, especially when they are in the group being targeted.

Facebook, Marketing and the Clash Over Kids

Millions of young kids are already on Facebook, even though the site can’t legally allow anyone under 13 to create a profile. And if the previous statement were a status update, Facebook would “like” it. The popular social networking wants all youngsters to be allowed; this way they can begin sharing early. Consider this: When anyone shares on the site, Facebook benefits by allowing marketers to use the data and it makes money. Giving all kids the right to sign up would insure the site’s continued dominance.

The Real Consequences of Bullying

Bullying is increasingly seen as a problem in the United States, and some research has started to prove that its consequences are real. Most adults can probably remember being bullied in school, and there is a tendency to think of it as a rite of passage or simply as a part of life that kids have to get used to. After all, we got through it OK, perhaps with the advice of “standing up” to the bully, or simply by enduring it until it went away. Consider a few statistics from James Burns, an educational speaker and trainer who runs Proactive Behavioral – Management:

Sixty percent of middle school students say they have been bullied, while 16 percent of staff believe that students are bullied. Thirty percent of students who reported they had been bullied said they had at times brought weapons to school.

A Minnesota School District’s Struggle over Bullying and Gay Rights

In a front page story, the New York Times explores the problem of bullying and a controversial school policy concerning sexual orientation in a school district in suburban Minneapolis. The piece details a long struggle between advocates for homosexual students and Christian conservatives over how sexual orientation should be taught in schools. It also reports on a lawsuit filed against the Anoka-Hennepin School District claiming, in part, that district policy requiring teachers to be “neutral” on the question of sexual orientation has helped to bring about a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students and therefore increasing the number of incidents of bullying. The suit was brought on behalf of the students by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. News of the suit comes after reports that the Department of Justice is in the midst of a civil rights investigation of on-going harassment of gay and lesbian students in the the district of some 38,000.

LGBT stock photo - Clay Duda, JJIE.org

Are LGBT Youth Safer in School This Year?

It gets better. That’s the message many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth have heard since last fall when multiple cases received high-profile media attention concerning teens being bullied and/or committing suicide for being gay, or perceived to be gay. But is it safer for LGBT students entering school this year? Some LGBT leaders are doubtful, despite the positive changes that are occurring, according to an article by the Keen News Service. Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, acknowledges that more schools are aware of what to do and more resources exist, but she told a reporter for the news service that there is still “a lot of work to be done.”