Free Public Forum Addresses Bullying, Bias

Parents, educators, social service providers and the general public are invited to attend a public forum that focuses on bullying and bias on Thursday, April 4 from 6PM to 8PM at the Union County Vocational-Technical High School’s Baxel Hall, 1776 Raritan Road, Scotch Plains.

The forum, “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Update,” is sponsored by the Union County Human Relations Commission (UCHRC).  Dr. Paula Rodriguez Rust, the featured presenter, will provide practical, hands-on and need-to-know information about the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights (ABBOR).

Topics to be addressed include what this legislation means for students, parents and schools; an overview of what bullying is, and how to address bullying from those perspectives as well as that of the Anti-Bullying Specialist, who must both investigate and support students; and when law enforcement should be called in.

“Parents need to understand how to advise their child, whether the child is being bullied, or has been reported for a bullying offense,” stated UCHRC Co-Chair Barbara Boyer. “Educators, the school’s Anti-Bullying Specialist and social service agencies want to know how to help youth and families prevent and cope with bullying.”

“This is a very broad topic to begin with, but it is further complicated because bullying is defined differently by different entities,” Boyer said.  “Understanding those differences is important.”

Dr. Rodriguez Rust also will address the critical role of bias in defining and addressing bullying, and how we can ensure the positive school climate we are creating is positive to all students.

In addition, she will discuss what we have learned after 18 months of ABBOR experience, exploring what we are doing right, and wrong.  The exploration will include identifying confusions, common mistakes, challenges, conflicts, hidden negative unintended consequences, and what we might have overlooked, as well as important elements often overlooked in pre-packaged anti-bullying programs.

Dr. Rodriguez Rust, a sociologist, is the owner of Spectrum Diversity LLC and founding partner of the Alliance for Comprehensive & Effective Strategies (ACES) for Bullying Prevention, and is a court-recognized expert witness on bullying.  She provides consulting, professional development, and assessment services to schools, as well as continuing education workshops on cultural diversity and bullying.  She has published two books, dozens of professional articles, lectured internationally, and has appeared on news shows including 20/20, and recently received awards for her work on raising awareness of diversity from the New Jersey Bias Crime Officers Association and the Union County Human Relations Commission.

The forum is free, with a suggested $10 donation.  There is a $20 advance registration fee for any educator who wishes to receive a certificate of attendance for Professional Development Units (2 hours) and an Educators Handout Packet that contains materials that can be turnkeyed to other school personnel.

Additional details are available on the Union County website at  For more information, call 908-889-9028 or email