The UCHRC is proud of its history in exploring and addressing bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and intimidation early on, before these became common buzzwords and the focus of educators and state legislation.
We continue to look for opportunities to educate law enforcement officers and educators on these antisocial behaviors, which often are bias-based. In January 2016, we offered a well-attended bias-sensitivity training, presented by our esteemed partner, Dr. Paula Rodriguez Rust of Spectrum Diversity LLC. The training was specially geared toward educators, social service providers, school resource officers, and municipal bias officers.
Titled “Bullying, Bias, and Racial Disparities in Discipline,” the workshop highlighted the critical importance of proactive efforts to address various forms of bias as part of comprehensive anti-bullying programming, promoting equity in education, and complying with laws such as the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, the New Jersey Law against Discrimination, and Title IX. It also explored what we have learned about creating safe and equitable school climates now that we are five years out from the passage of New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights.
One lesson learned is that each form of bias/diversity (ethnic, religious, disability, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, etc.) poses unique challenges in the school environment.
The workshop was presented in partnership with the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and Union County Superintendent of Schools. In addition to other special presentations we have offered through the years, we also have co-sponsored a three-part Cyber-Safety “Train the Trainers” for educators and law enforcement officers. The Commission also continues to explore other public forums that could assist the community in better understanding LGBT issues.
For additional information, please consider the following expert resources:
Frequently Asked Questions about Bullying
The following information is taken from the New Jersey government website and is provided by the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Law & Public Safety, Office of Bias Crime and Community Relations
Are name-calling and teasing forms of bullying?
Applying the definition of bullying behavior, name-calling and teasing are included as “attempts to inflict physical and/or psychological distress.” Though perhaps not as obviously painful as physical bullying, name-calling and teasing can be just as harmful when they result from an “imbalance of power” between the bully and the victim. For example, children’s name-calling with terms such as “queer” or “fag” is definitely a form of bias-based bullying.
How can we stop bullying on the playground?
Bullying intervention should be seen as one part of a systemic prevention-intervention-protection (PIP) approach. The entire school COMMUNITY must be included. Teachers, students, administrators and parents are part of the school community. Stopping bullying in any environment, whether on the playground, in the classroom, or in the hallway requires that:
Student bystanders and victims feel empowered to report the situation to adults, understanding the difference between:
“tattling” to harm someone and
“telling” to protect someone (or yourself)
And that adults will respond by:
stopping the bullying behavior immediately (intervention),
providing consistent consequences for the students behaving as bullies,
including disciplinary consequences and reports to parents, protecting/supporting the victim.
How can we empower children who are being bullied?
The experience of being bullied may have long-term consequences, depending on the duration, the level of bullying violence, and how it is related to the victim’s identity,. A victim is empowered by a shift in the school community’s norms which make totally clear that bullying is not permitted, that every person has a right to feel safe, that everyone has a responsibility to help others feel safe. Providing victims with the chance to tell their stories and ask their questions is also empowering. Assuring that victims know they are not alone also empowers children who are being bullied.
How can we help children who are behaving as bullies, especially when their parents may be reinforcing bullying behavior?
Not all children who behave as bullies are alike. Some are acting from more deep-seated emotional problems, while others are experimenting with limits and/or enjoying the feeling of “power over” others. Some victims may act aggressively and appear to be bullies themselves. Clearly parents need to be informed of their child’s bullying behavior. While they may be in denial or may defend their child, parents respond more positively to a concern for their child than to an accusation or an implied condemnation. Parents also need to understand that the long-term consequences for children behaving as bullies can be very serious. Research shows that about 1/4 of children identified as bullies in elementary school have a criminal record by age 25-30 (depending on the study). Often, parents are defending themselves (and their parenting skills) when they act defensively about their children.