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Archive for November, 2014

Taking a Stand Against Bullying: Michele Grider

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

IMG_2819There are some staggering NYS bullying statistics I’d like to share with you today. During the 2009-2010 school year, 23% of U.S. schools reported that bullying occurred among students on a daily or weekly basis. In 2011, 28% of students aged 12 to 18 years reported being bullied at school. The most common form of bullying was based on physical appearance. 66% reported that students were harassed at least sometimes because of their looks or body size.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is New York State’s Response – The Dignity for All Students Act (DASA)

DASA was born out of legislative concern to prevent bullying in our schools. Media coverage of egregious cases brought more attention to the severity of the situation and something needed to be done. The Act was signed into law by Gov. Patterson on September 8, 2010 and became effective July 1, 2012.

The Purpose of this Act is to foster civility in public schools by way of prevention and prohibition of bullying, discrimination, and harassment on school property and at school functions. It also adds additional “protected classes” to the federal protected classes.

DASA states: At its core…No student shall be subjected to bullying, discrimination and/or harassment by employees or students on school property or at a school function.

Schools are taking this very seriously now. It is no longer, “someone else’s problem”. Every school in New York State must have a Dignity Act Coordinator (DAC) and bullying protocols in place.

As proactive steps are taken in our schools check with your children. Do they know who the DAC is in their school? Do they feel that their school offers a safe environment to learn? If not, do they know where to turn, who to talk to? NYS will not tolerate harassment in our schools. Our kids need to know it’s okay to speak up.

-Michele Grider, NYS Dignity Act/Bullying Prevention Coordinator
Oneida Herkimer Madison BOCES

The Fight Against Bullying: Wendy Fical

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

WendyRide2014First Source is proud to be a part of the fight against bullying. We love to share stories like this one from Wendy Fical, Program Director of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children-NY/MY Office.

I have the wonderful opportunity to visit many schools, educating on many different safety topics throughout our community. I spend a lot of time with grades Pre-K through 12. When it comes to (cyber)bullying, I cannot help but notice the inner genuine and caring nature that all students exhibit when they watch a video about someone else getting bullied, or when they hear one of my real-life stories about someone getting picked on. They are so sad for that student. They don’t think its right for that child to be sad, to feel worthless, for their grades to be poor due to the constant teasing they’ve received. I especially notice when asking them if a student is picked on for something that they cannot control; like their size, their clothing, whether or not their hair looks perfect that day, etc. They respond, “NO, that it is not right!”

Then the most amazing thing happens. During the presentation, I ask each student to imagine a 5 year old child (especially one that might be dear to them). I ask them if they would come right out and bully that innocent 5 year old. 100% of the time, the answer is “NO WAY”. So then I ask them to remember, that while we all have grown up through the years, we all (adults included) still have feelings. There are many people that no matter their age when they are bullied, can feel very hurt just like a younger child that is being picked on. Remembering that we all have feelings, if you wouldn’t bully a 5 year old, why do we allow ourselves to bully someone else? It doesn’t make it right, just because the person is older than 5. It doesn’t mean that because they are older they are numb to the hurt.

I’ve also observed that our children really do want to help other students in bad situations, but sometimes just don’t know how. Being the “upstander”, instead of the “bystander”, when it comes to bullying is working and with time, I anticipate it to be “the thing to do” among peers.

In the meantime, while the evolution of that change continues, the students have begun to show that instead of picking on a student themselves if someone else is, they prefer to “not to join in”, “not to make the hurtful comments”…. And “not to laugh at the student getting picked on”. The upstander role will continue to grow.

As parents of these internet savvy and genuinely caring children, let’s help them to ask themselves these questions……

Would I pick on this student if they were only 5?
Would I make fun of this student if I knew what type of home life they really had or didn’t have?
Could I make a difference by not joining in, not laughing at them, showing others that it is ok to help someone else that is being bullied?

Yes, our children are our future, I hope that one day when I am in a nursing home, it is one of these genuine and caring students that are helping to take care of me. J

-Wendy Fical
Program Director
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Imagine More Free Time

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

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