Vigil Bullying Prevention Scholarship. Mary K. Martinez

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1 Vigil Bullying Prevention Scholarship By Mary K. Martinez Introduction Bullying is a human behavior that has existed possibly since humans have existed and shared space together. This behavior can play out in families, schools, workplaces, and all organizations. Bullying is committed by individuals who like to dominate others and/or feel the need to gain or exert power over them and discover the means to do so. Bullying can include physical acts such as kicking, psychological acts such as intimidation and in today s societies cyber bullying is popular. A climate in which bullying is not acceptable needs to be created. Where Does Bullying Exist In grade schools and high schools, I observed various acts of bullying. Some students may have had weaker personalities than others and some students may have had difficulties in making friends and wanted to fit in. Bullies take advantage of these types of situations and also others, including circumstances where students need assistance with their studies or have other needs which then cause them to become the prey of bullies. I recall in grade school one of my class mates was constantly being bullied and he went to our teacher and told her about being bullied, her response was to tell him that he had to get tough and not let it bother him. This lack of intervention only empowers the perpetrator and hurts the victim. All kids deserve to feel and be safe anywhere they are. Some statistical information indicates that 1 in 4 high school girls get bullied in one way or another, for high school boys the frequency is just slightly less than that. Bullying also happens in the workplace. There are people that take advantage of their authority or manipulate organizational structures which can lead to co-worker on co-worker harassment. Some people use their organizational position or authority to make things difficult for employees they oversee; many times causing those employees to transfer to another position or, of more consequence, they leave the organization. There are also people who make it a habit to come into business places as customers and harass and/or bully all or just certain employees. I could not find consistent statistics on adults bullying other adults, however there are examples which show this behavior does exist among adults as well. The method I was able to use was to visit with some adults who recounted experiences of how either they or their close acquaintances had suffered bullying by other adults.

2 Since acts of bullying continue to happen in our schools, families, organizations and workplaces, I would like to be able to provide professional resources in key places and at specific points to help raise awareness and to help everyone recognize acts of bullying and stop them. Applying intervention using professional resources at the source and at the earliest possible time will help both the perpetrators and the victims. Currently resources do exist and ongoing efforts to address bullying also exist. However many of the resources are not easy to access. The process of getting access to professional help many times is too convoluted so that the victim gives up on the process. Some studies show that young kids may start developing bullying skills at home when they find that they can use certain behaviors to get things to go their own way. Unless their parents intercept those behaviors they will continue to use them. It is important to develop awareness programs that can be custom made and be made readily available for parents so that they can recognize the importance of teaching their kids healthy patterns of behavior. Schools are a place where bullying seems to flourish since there are so many children and so many opportunities for bullies to take advantage of many kinds of situations. It is absolutely critical to implement interventions starting in kindergarten. As young kids begin attending school and interacting with others there are tendencies for individuals with dominant personalities to develop skills that will make things go their way. In younger ages the acts will most likely be physical such as pushing and hitting; in time their bullying skills will begin to include name calling and teasing and, if not stopped, continue on to the extremes of cyberbullying. Everyone has heard of examples of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can be done at any time day or night. Cyberbullying is done anonymously which makes it nearly impossible to find the perpetrator. There are stories in the news daily be it the nightly news or one of the morning news shows. However an extreme example of cyberbullying that people may not actually see for what it is: politics. Politicians bully each other not only through television commercials but also through their campaign speeches and any interviews they might give. And although this is definitely bullying it is on the extreme end of the scale. This type of bullying affects more than the main targets as millions of people, both for and against the candidates, see these commercials and interviews. Our youth see and hear the behaviors that celebrities and politicians exhibit which makes it even more difficult to stop bulling. The exhibition of such behavior gives the appearance that the American public is condoning and willing to accept such behavior. Reporting Incidents Reporting of incidents by victims is difficult. Some studies show that the first place that youth turn to for help is their parents. Other people that youth turn to for help will be their teachers, counselors, friends or maybe law enforcement. In any case, reporting of a bulling incident to anyone can be intimidating. If the incident report is being made to the school personnel or law

3 enforcement the process can be so difficult that the victim gets discouraged and decides to discontinue the report. Another reason that a victim may fear reporting an incident is retaliation. What possible Actions can be identified with the use of the million dollars I would create a team of behavioral professionals to form a think tank to brain storm ideas for action. The intent of this think tank would be to review all existing research that would help identify the reasons why there are humans who become bullies and how to stop bullying. The intent would be to identify the reasons perpetrators have for committing these acts. Once the review is completed and reasons are identified I would then form professional teams to design educational and interventional programs that would target key points to use in implementing prevention programs. Another step I would want to take would be to work with the Department of Education to see if there is a way to increase the accountability of all school districts in detecting and taking action to stop acts of bullying and also helping the victims. I would also design a program that victims of bullying could use to help them move forward, creating a type of I am a survivor of bullying promotion. Identifying and working with existing partners such as youth organizations, law enforcement agencies, service organizations, such as Rotary Club, and any businesses willing to help. Producing materials including CDs, videos, pamphlets etc. that contain personal accounts of bullying survivors which then can be shared with victims to help them move forward. This material would be designed so that these survivors would become models to help current victims develop the courage and strength to remedy their situation and therefore become survivors themselves. These materials would be distributed to as many public places as possible such as restaurants, churches, theatres, schools, gyms, etc. To deal with cyber bullying I would want to recruit many types of lobbyists who could visit with legislators to help them understand the extent of the problem and increase their awareness of how they can help through better and more extensive laws which could influence the fight against cyber bullying in a positive way. I would also ask our legislators to help provide the legal avenues that the Department of Education would need to hold teachers, administrators and all other employees K-12 accountable for not acting to intervene when witnessing acts of bullying I would design a program that targets parents and guardians and is easily available and easy to understand. Much of the material currently available is not easily available or in many cases difficult to understand. There are many families that do not own or have access to computers, or know how to use computers to be able to gain access to current material. There are many families where both parents work and have limited time to spend quality family time with their kids and the opportunities to provide the parental help simply does not exist. Parents and guardians need easy access to trustworthy support that they can turn to for help. It is critical to

4 know and be able to identify the warning signs when your child is being bullied or being the bully or has friends that are being bullied. In the effort to stop bullying, the best time is when it first starts. The possible physiological and physical harm that is possible will be minimized and will help prevent problems such as depression, poor health, not wanting to go to school, declining grades, getting in trouble in school, getting in trouble with the law, associating with friends who are bullies etc.. Parents and guardians need help so that they can then help their children; they need help in knowing how to work with their children s school and other resources available within their community. They also need to know who to report to and how to report acts of bullying. Being a bully as a youth can carry on into adulthood. This aggressive behavior can surface in family life and in the work place. Workplace harassment which is definitely bullying also needs to be addressed to help break the cycle of this problem. The one million dollars would be used in this manner: To fund the Think Tank I would allocate Three Hundred Thousand Dollars ($300,000). First, this money would help identify team members. This team would need to physically meet from time to time so they would need to have access to meeting facilities. Much of their team work could be accomplished using technology such as video conferencing. They would also need to have the tools necessary to complete their research and have the means to document their work. This is the information that will guide the work of the teams that will work on action program design. For the formation of professional teams to design targeted programs I would allocate another Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($450,000). All teams would be composed of skilled professionals that would contribute knowledge and expertise in working with bullying issues. Along with professionals I would like to have associate members of the team, including parents, school counselors, law enforcement and teachers. These teams will also need access to some meeting facilities, materials and tools such as computers, printers, video equipment, paper and ink as well as a way to distribute the materials. I would allocate One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) for working with the Department of Education on designing new or strengthening current policies, rules and regulations which would help to make educators of institutions such as public and private schools do a better job of identifying and stopping acts of bullying. Designing and instituting accountability measures for anyone that is employed by public and private educational institutions pre-k through Twelfth Grade. I would allocate One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) to work with state legislators to help them understand and appreciate the need for improving and expanding the current efforts to stop bulling in our schools.

5 One million dollars is not enough funding to stop bullying in our society. There is a need to consider that the million dollars is only the seed money to get started. To continue the work of putting a stop to bullying there needs to be continuous funding. I would allocate Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000) to initiate a school and community group that would include parents, youth, school administrators and any other advocate groups that are interested in putting a stop to bullying. This community group would work at applying for grant money to be used in support of continuing the programs that are already implemented. I would allocate Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000) for I Am A Survivor Of Bulling Promotion. This program would be to work with Bullying Survivors to design both reading and visual materials as well as having Bullying Survivors make presentations and help model how to defeat bullying in our society. Monitoring I would allocate Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000) to initiate a Monitoring Team. To ensure the success of the work instituted by the first million dollars, an intensive monitoring program will be necessary to insure accountability and to identify areas for improvement and to make the necessary improvements. Monitoring teams would be composed of parents, youth, community members, teachers, bullying survivors etc.. Monitoring would identify if the programs implemented are working, what parts need to be modified and improved. Monitoring should also identify of how the monitoring teams could be improved.

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