Monthly Archives: May 2016

Survey shows principals’ frustrations with bullying in schools

Parents who confuse school bullying and normal conflict between classmates is the No. 1 bullying-related frustration reported by Kentucky’s principals and assistant principals, according to recent results of a Kentucky Center for School Safety survey.

Although much has been said about what it’s like to be a victim of bullying, there hasn’t been much data collected about the experience principals have in dealing with it. That’s what Jon Akers, the center’s director, said motivated the survey.

“I thought there was a need to at least give the principals a voice on this matter and let’s add it to the dialogue,” he said.

In the survey of 625 respondents, 72.5 percent expressed frustration about parents misunderstanding bullying. Other issues included cyber-bulling – which seems most prevalent at the middle and high school levels – as well as bullying that goes unreported and parents not realizing bullying also exists outside school.

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The PTSD Stigma: Why PTSD Doesn’t Just Affect Veterans

(Editor’s Note:  It is correct that PTSD is not limited to combat veterans.  Stressors that can trigger PTSD can include accidents and acts of violence.  Witnesses to extreme accidents and acts of violence also sometimes suffer from the symptoms.  Whether cyberbullying constitutes the kind of stressor that logically leads to PTSD is a subject that requires more study.  Cyberbullying certainly can cause depression and anxiety, but PTSD strikes me as a bit of a reach.  As noted, more research is needed.  One item of note for those of us living in the west:  the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has all but eliminated PTSD as a disabling condition protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  While I strongly disagree with the Court’s decision, it casts a cloud over potentially eligible individuals who would need to articulate a recognized impairment, such as depression, to qualify for ADA or Section 504 accommodations in the Ninth Circuit.  Even the courts seem to have difficulty addressing PTSD. — Mike Tully)

New research shows that while our awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) increased substantially in the past few decades, our understanding of PTSD has remained fairly low. According to researchers, this has a lot to do with how we portray the illness in the media.

The PTSD study looked at articles published by the New York Times and found that while only 2 articles were published in 1980 — the year PTSD was added to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — by the time 2014 rolled around, 70 articles mentioned or described the illness. Yet half of those articles focused entirely on PTSD cases in the military. A heavy military bias involving crimes committed by those with PTSD and substance abuse related to the illness was also discovered.

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Eleven states sue Obama administration over bathroom guidance for transgender students

Transgender_symbol_2(Editor’s Note:  We’ve seen this circus before:  blatant discrimination masquerading as “states’ rights.”  This action is shameful and I’m embarrassed that my state, Arizona, recently joined it.  I predict this action will likely fail because the transgender protection is not founded on an exclusively executive edict.  The genesis of the law giving rise to the protection is congressional action.  Transgender protection is a logical consequence of both Title VII and Title IX.  All the EEOC and DOJ are doing is articulating a totally reasonable interpretation of the law.  The late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc:  “As some courts have observed, male-on-male sexual harassment in the workplace was assuredly not the principal evil Congress was concerned with when it enacted Title VII. But statutory prohibitions often go beyond the principal evil to cover reasonably comparable evils, and it is ultimately the provisions of our laws rather than the principal concerns of our legislators by which we are governed.”  While Oncale was a Title VII employment case, the logic of Oncale informs the determination that transgender individuals are protected by Title VII and Title IX.  — Mike Tully)

Eleven states and state officials filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the Obama administration over federal guidance directing schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities that match their gender identities.

The federal lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, states that the guidance “has no basis in law” and could cause “seismic changes in the operations of the nation’s school districts.”

State officials have hinted they might file a legal challenge since the Obama administration released a letter earlier this month from the Justice Department and the Education Department that the federal agencies said was in response to questions from schools around the country.

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Do social media foster or curtail adolescents’ empathy? A longitudinal study


Recently, concerns have been raised that adolescents’ prolific social media use may cause them to become less empathic. However, direct empirical evidence is missing and research suggests that social media use can also be beneficial for adolescents’ psychosocial development. The present study aims to investigate whether and how social media use influences empathy. We surveyed 942 Dutch adolescents (10–14 years) twice, with a one-year interval. The results showed that social media use is related to an increase in cognitive and affective empathy over time. Specifically, adolescents’ social media use improved both their ability to understand (cognitive empathy) and share the feelings of their peers (affective empathy).

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After years of alleged bullying, an Ohio teen killed herself. Is her school district responsible?

Growing up, Emilie Olsen had an infectious smile, a love for horses and a perfect attendance record. She was a straight-A student and an excellent volleyball player. Emilie “had an extremely sweet spirit about her,” a family friend recalled.

On Dec. 11, 2014, the 13-year-old shot and killed herself at home.

It was a tragedy that sent a jolt through Fairfield, Ohio, where Emilie had lived since her parents, Marc and Cindy Olsen, adopted her from China when she was 9 months old. Classmates and neighbors mourned a young life cut short.

But in the days following Emilie’s death, her parents spoke out against the seeming suddenness of it all. Emilie’s death was precipitated by cruel, relentless bullying, the Olsens said. Worse: It could have been prevented, they claimed, if officials at Fairfield Intermediate and Middle School had been more responsive. Emilie did not have to die, they said.

These were the allegations made in an 82-page federal lawsuit the Olsens filed against Fairfield City School District, various administrators and Emilie’s alleged bullies last December. Since then, their fight to hold the school district accountable for their daughter’s death has been met with support from parents and denials from school officials.

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In California, lessons on transgender student access to facilities

As schools across the nation work, often for the first time, to ensure a welcoming environment for students who are transgender, California has lessons to share, according to educators, advocates and students.

The first is, in the words of Eric Guthertz, principal of Mission High School in San Francisco, “there is no need to freak out.” A second is that school leaders who have bought into the idea of “school climate” improvements – including anti-bullying programs, mental health support for students and staff, and alternative approaches to suspensions and expulsions – are going to intuitively understand that the focus should be on the needs of the individual transgender student. A third is to educate the parent community about transgender children and teenagers.

School districts across the nation this week are responding to last week’s federal directive that they must provide students access to bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, or stand in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. California is ahead of the curve. Gender identity is defined in the directive as an individual’s internal sense of gender, which may be different from the person’s sex assigned at birth.

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ED/DOJ releases joint transgender student guidance – NSBA issues written statement in response

On May 13, 2016, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Justice (DOJ) issued joint guidance in the form of a “Dear Colleague Letter” (DCL) aimed at ensuring that schools protect the civil rights of transgender students. Accompanying the DCL is a separate document from ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) titled Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students. The DCL begins with a discussion of terminology. Specifically, it defines the terms gender identity, sex assigned at birth and transgender. It also reiterates schools’ requirement to comply with the sex discrimination prohibitions of Title IX as a condition of receiving federal funds. It states:

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Empathy: The catalyst for positive connections & change

(Editor’s Note:  Thanks to Connect – Mike Tully)

Let’s face it. We’ve got big problems in our country that are rooted in greed, abuse of power, ignorance, fear, and denial. Take, for example, the horrific adult role modeling exhibited in the US presidential primaries in which blatant bullying tactics are dividing our nation rather than unifying it. And don’t even get me started as to how these cringe-worthy public displays of put-downs are counter-productive to all the hard-working bullying prevention efforts many adults and kids are using to create positive, caring, and inclusive communities.

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Bullying Today: Bullet Points and Best Practices

(Editor’s Note:  This is the latest work from Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin.  Sameer and Justin are two of the most respected and well-liked researchers and authors in the field of bullying and cyber-bullying prevention.  — Mike Tully)

Cutting-edge strategies—ready when you need them.

Before bullying surfaces in your school, you need to be ready. This book is organized so you can find the answers you need to make meaningful changes in the way you prevent and respond to bullying.

The authors know the challenges educators face. Here they’ve distilled nearly 15 years of research into bite-sized chapters, with strategies and real-world examples to put ideas into action. You’ll learn:

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