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Youth: Resolution YTH-12-27

ADDRESSING BULLYING PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION IN SCHOOLS

WHEREAS, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) recognizes that a safe learning environment is key to increasing student achievement and success;

WHEREAS, the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has indicated that bullying is the most common type of violence with 15-30 percent of students involved either as bullies or victims of bullying;

WHEREAS, the National Center for Education Statistics cited that in 2010, one in seven students in kindergarten through 12th grade was either a bully or a victim of bullying;

WHEREAS, bullying involves the following three characteristics: 1) an imbalance of power--people who bully use their power to control or harm and those being bullied have a difficult time defending themselves; 2) intent to cause harm--actions done by accident are not bullying; the person bullying has a goal to cause harm; and 3) repetition--incidents of bullying happen to the same person repeatedly by the same person or group;

WHEREAS, experts have categorized bullying as direct and indirect, with direct bullying being more often associated with boys and indirect bullying being more often associated with girls: direct bullying includes shoving, slapping, punching, spitting, and tripping while indirect bullying includes taunts, name-calling, threats, gossip/rumor-spreading, theft, cyber-bullying, and ostracism;

WHEREAS, according to NASP, the frequency and severity of bullying tends to increase when children observe other family members who display bullying tendencies at home such as verbal abuse or physical punishment;

WHEREAS, according to a joint study by the University of Washington and Indiana University, children exposed to violence in the home were more likely to engage in bullying than those not exposed to violence in the home;

WHEREAS, a study published in the journal Pediatrics found that men who were frequent bullies in school were four times as likely to abuse their partner;

WHEREAS, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states that bullies identified by age 8 are six times more likely to be convicted of a crime by age 24, and five times more likely to end up with serious criminal records by age 30, if there is no intervention;

WHEREAS, the impact on victims of bullying is both physical and mental: headaches and backaches, abdominal pains, problems sleeping, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, fear that results in running away, and depression often leading to suicidal ideation as well as attempted and completed suicide;

WHEREAS, a number of mental health outcomes for bullying victims are directly related to student achievement: poor concentration, nightmares, fatigue, mood swings and irritability, shame and loss of self-confidence, anxiety and panic attacks, and school absenteeism;

WHEREAS, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, and bullying victims are 200-900 percent more likely to commit suicide according to a study conducted by Yale University;

WHEREAS, the United States Departments of Health & Human Services, Education, and Justice have partnered to provide a valuable public service in establishing www.stopbullying.gov;

WHEREAS, the NBCSL applauds the FY2010-FY2015 Strategic Plan to stop bullying published by the United States Department of Human Health & Services;

WHEREAS, The White House hosted a conference on bullying in March of 2011;

WHEREAS, in September 2011, the Second Annual Summit on Combating Bullying was hosted by the United States Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools in conjunction with the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services (HHS), Defense, Agriculture, and Interior, the Federal Trade Commission, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the National Council on Disability;

WHEREAS, there is a quantifiable link between the severity and frequency of bullying and the provision of effective after-school programs aimed at youth that address self-esteem, teen pregnancy, smoking/ substance abuse, recidivism, conflict resolution, and restorative justice;

WHEREAS, schools that receive federal funding (including colleges and universities) are required by federal law to address discrimination on a person’s protected characteristics or status;

WHEREAS, school districts may violate both civil rights statutes and the United States Department of Education’s regulations when bullying/peer harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, or disability is sufficiently serious that it creates a hostile environment and when such harassment is encouraged, tolerated, not adequately addressed, or ignored by school employees; and

WHEREAS, 46 states have passed anti-bullying legislation going beyond federal statutes, including a New Jersey law that penalizes administrators who fail to investigate bullying and a California law that allows administrators to discipline students that are involved in cyber-bullying.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) believes that school bullying policies and state legislation on bullying should

  1. define bullying, including cyber-bullying;
  2. enumerate populations that may be most impacted by bullying;
  3. prohibit bullying (and cyber-bullying) with grade-appropriate discipline for the child and referrals for the victim to appropriate medical, mental health, and community-based services;
  4. inform school personnel, students, parents, and community members of the policies as well as provide ongoing professional development and training to prevent, identify, and respond to bullying and potential suicide;
  5. enable caretakers and require school personnel to report suspected bullying;
  6. require school administrators to investigate reports of bullying;
  7. implement bullying prevention and intervention programs that allow for collaboration with families; and
  8. provide for immunity from civil liabilities for members of the school community who report bullying and are found to be non-parties to the abuse in question as well as prohibit retaliation against those who report;

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that elements of the HHS Strategic Plan FY2010-FY2015 which address bullying be adequately funded at FY2010 levels and that such funding be directly allocated to the states for implementation;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NBCSL calls on state education officials to conduct a thorough review of state and federal policies to ensure that students have the opportunity to learn and thrive in safe environments; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, and other federal and state government officials as appropriate.

SPONSOR(S): Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter (SC) and Representative Gregory W. Porter (IN)
Committee of Jurisdiction: Youth Policy Committee
Certified by Committee Chair: Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter (SC)
Ratified in Plenary Session: Ratification Date is December 9, 2011
Ratification is certified by: Representative Barbara W. Ballard (KS), President

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