Blog: bullying

Senate Judiciary Approves Criminal Justice Bill with Juvenile Provisions; News Roundup

Every week Reclaiming Futures rounds up the latest news on juvenile justice reform, adolescent substance use treatment, and teen mental health. 

Senate Judiciary Approves Criminal Justice Bill with Juvenile Provisions (Juvenile Justice Information Exchange)
Yesterday the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would reform policies for youth in prison, as well as help with the process of re-entry into the community.

Watch This Webinar: Improving Services for LGBT Youth

feet-349687_1920Reclaiming Futures is committed to the equitable treatment of troubled youth—nurturing each of them on a path toward health and prosperity, rather than incarceration. To do this, we must be able to identify and end the patterns of discrimination and victimization at play in our schools and our juvenile justice systems.

Study Finds Early Intervention Crucial In Preventing Future Delinquent Behavior

A new study from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence[PDF] (NatSCEV) underscores the importance for early intervention of childhood exposure to violence to prevent these children from future delinquency (also referred to in other studies as “bullying”). This study offers a new look at the relationship between victimization and delinquency for children 10 to 17 years-old and through four different categories:

  • Primarily delinquent behavior and not victims
  • Primarily victims and no delinquent behavior
  • Both delinquent behavior and victims
  • Neither victims nor delinquent behavior

Delinquency includes violent behavior, drug and alcohol use, and actions that involve property destruction, such as stealing or breaking property. Research has found that boys and girls experience and react to violence differently, and this study is no exception. Boys in the delinquent behavior and victim group experienced much more victimization in the past year than boys in the primarily victim group. In addition, these boys also had more delinquent behavior than the primarily delinquent behavior group.
Girls had different patterns in their behavior. Most girls were neither victims nor acted out with delinquency (as opposed to boys, who mostly engaged in delinquent behavior), and the second biggest group of girls were primarily victims. This information reflects that girls tend to engage in less delinquency than boys. However, like boys, the girls that were victims and engaged in delinquent behavior had greater levels of victimization and delinquency than girls that were either primarily victims or acted out with delinquency. These boys and girls that behaved with delinquency and were victims often experience more mental health symptoms and life adversities and receive less social support than other groups.

Let’s Unite to Stop Bullying and Build Healthier Communities

The national program staff of Reclaiming Futures, communities helping teens overcome drugs, alcohol and crime, is sporting orange today and celebrating some superstars in support of Unity Day and National Bully Prevention Month.
In 37 communities across the country, Reclaiming Futures experiences the excitement of helping kids build positive outcomes. But, without support for physical, social and emotional development, young people can run into problems, like bullying and substance abuse. Research shows a clear link between the two:

Because of the relationship between emotional health and substance abuse, we’re always cheering on colleagues who are working with young people and helping break the cycle early on.
Today we’re sending special kudos to Playworks, for empowering school staff and proactively managing students to reduce bullying behavior.
We are grateful to Playworks and all organizations that raise awareness and inspire action to prevent bullying and build healthier kids, communities and schools. Keep up the good work!

NC Teens, Police, Community Join Forces to Stop Bullying Epidemic

Our small community has been deeply affected by bullying. Last year, two teenage girls committed suicide after being bullied. This school year, we’ve already had five students bring weapons to school to protect themselves from bullies. And two out of three students referred to our Teen Court program for simple assault, simple affray or disorderly conduct are there because of bullying-related incidents.

Recognizing the need to address bullying in schools, our young people, police officers and community members decided to take a stand by creating a short movie. The movie was written and acted by students, many of whom have been involved in bullying.

The Many Faces of Teacher Activism

When I was recently asked if I thought teachers today needed to be activists I didn't hesitate in my answer. "Being a teacher, almost by definition, means being an activist."
That might come as a surprise to those teachers who have never wrote a letter to the editor, marched in a rally, retweeted a Diane Ravitch tweet, or "Occupied" anything but their classrooms. But I'm holding to my belief, as firmly as some teachers hold their protests signs declaring things like, "Let Teachers Teach" and "Protect Our Students": being an activist is an essential part of being a teacher.
For most teachers activism is an everyday thing because students and their needs are every day. There's a lot to watch out for in a classroom -- even on good days they are a moil of energy -- aside from whether a lesson is hitting home. A student who can't read the board because her family can't afford glasses. A cough that doesn't go away. A young boy who refuses to go to rec. because he gets picked on. A nasty bruise on the arm of the girl who doesn't meet your eye. The immigrant student struggling with a new culture and a new language. The issues are real -- poverty, neglect, abuse, poor health and nutrition, bullying, depression, low self-esteem -- and they are all a part of an average school day.
Good teachers don't complain, they just act, doing what needs doing to help their students learn. It may be a home visit, a talk with a school counselor, an offer to tutor after school, a walk around the playground at lunchtime, or a spare change collection in the teachers' room for eyeglasses. Some teachers (and it's a growing number) feel the need to address these concerns in a broader context, "taking to the streets" to confront such issues as health care, drugs, physical and sexual abuse, bullying, immigration, the current educational policy itself. But whatever teachers do, they take action, becoming activists for their students.

New Research Finds Link Between Childhood Bullying and Adult Psychiatric Disorders

Recently, professors at Duke University in North Carolina have published research that shows the link from childhood bullying to adult psychiatric disorders. “We were surprised at how profoundly bullying affects a person’s long-term functioning,” said William E. Copeland, PhD, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University and lead author of the study.
Of the 1,420 youth studied, researchers found:

  • 26% (421) reported being bullied at least once.
  • 9.5% (200) acknowledged bullying others.

As adults, those exposed to childhood bullying experience:

  • Higher levels of depressive, anxiety, and panic disorders as well as generalized anxiety and agoraphobia among victims of bullying compared to non bullied youth.
  • Higher levels of all anxiety and depressive disorders among victims and bullies.
  • Highest levels of suicidal thoughts, generalized anxiety, depressive and panic disorders among youth who were both victims and bullies.
  • An increased risk of antisocial personality disorder among bullies.

Creative Solutions Are Needed to Bring Effective Bullying Prevention to More Youth

Lately, it seems that barely a week can go by without a terrible case of bullying showing up in newspaper headlines. Bullying is not a new problem, and research shows that youth bullying behavior has actually decreased over the last couple of decades.[1] Nonetheless, public awareness of bullying seems to be at an all-time high, perhaps because we better understand how much it can negatively affect children. Increased awareness is certainly a good thing, but how do we make sure it translates into effective prevention programs and strategies delivered to the youth who need it most?
Many people are looking to schools for help, and there are great examples of comprehensive bullying prevention efforts in schools—improvements to policy, staff training and youth prevention education, increased reporting options, and student surveys to monitor the effects of those improvements. These efforts can make a difference for children, but to work, they have to be implemented fully and consistently[2].
Unfortunately, for many schools, the ideal combination of multi-level prevention strategies is difficult to put into place and maintain. The best prevention programs require significant resources and an ongoing commitment to persist with the program through funding and organizational upheavals. However, bullying is just one problem that affects youth safety, well-being, and academic success, and schools are overwhelmed by the many concerns they are expected to address. Drastic budget reductions have affected social programs and schools with the biggest bullying and peer violence problems are often the ones with the most significant challenges in other areas as well.

Topics: bullying, No bio box

Most Popular Juvenile Justice Blog Posts | October 2012

Did you miss some of our blog posts last month? Not to worry - here's a round-up of our most popular posts from October 2012.
10. [NEW REPORT] Community Solutions for Youth in Trouble
Over the past few years, Texas has shifted youth rehabilitation from large state-run facilities to smaller community programs. And they're seeing great results.
9. October is National Youth Justice Awareness Month
Last month, over 20 states are holding events to raise awareness about youth justice issues and the juvenile justice system.
8. 7 Core Principles to Change the Course of Youth Justice
A new article from the New York Law School Law Review examines problems with the juvenile justice system and offers solutions for a more productive youth justice system.
7. NC Teens, Police, Community Join Forces to Stop Bullying Epidemic 
Recognizing the need to address bullying in schools, young people in North Carolina partnered with police officers and community members to create a short movie against bullying.

NC Teens, Police, Community Join Forces to Stop Bullying Epidemic

Our small community has been deeply affected by bullying. Last year, two teenage girls committed suicide after being bullied. This school year, we’ve already had five students bring weapons to school to protect themselves from bullies. And two out of three students referred to our Teen Court program for simple assault, simple affray or disorderly conduct are there because of bullying-related incidents.

Recognizing the need to address bullying in schools, our young people, police officers and community members decided to take a stand by creating a short movie. The movie was written and acted by students, many of whom have been involved in bullying.

What Do Bullying and Youth Substance Use Have in Common? More Than You Might Think

October is Bullying Prevention Month and National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, a busy and important time for prevention efforts. On the surface, bullying and youth substance use may seem like separate problems. However, from research, we know that youth who use substances are at risk for other problem behaviors during their teen years. In fact, new findings suggest that middle and high school students who bully their peers are more likely to use alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana.
Bullying and substance use among children and teenagers have shared risk and protective factors. Effective prevention efforts minimize these risk factors and maximize protective factors in a child’s life. If a problem has already surfaced, learn to recognize the warning signs of bullying and being bullied, underage alcohol use, and drug use to intervene before the problem becomes worse.
But let’s rewind: how do you know which risk and protective factors to focus on? Read on!

United Against Bullying

At Reclaiming Futures, we are proud to join our colleagues across the country in supporting bullied students and uniting against bullying. 
Research shows a link between bullying and substance abuse -- both with the aggressor and the vicitm. According to an Ohio State study, “Youth involved in bullying were more likely than students not involved in bullying to use substances, with bully-victims reporting the greatest levels of substance use.” And 4 out of 5 youth arrests either involve substance abuse, are committed while under the influence, or the kid later admits to having a substance abuse problem.
Bullied kids are also more likely to skip school in order to avoid bullies, which interrupts their education and affects their future. 
So today we are wearing orange to call attention to the bullying epidemic and to show our support to students who have experienced bullying. Join us! We would love to hear about your anti-bullying efforts and see photos of you in your orange clothes. Share in the comments below, or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook.
(United against bullying in photo above: National Executive Director Susan Richardson with National Program Office staff Cheryl Reed, Jim Carlton, Cora Crary and LJ Hernandez.)

Topics: bullying, No bio box

Stop Bullying by Promoting Pro-Social Skills on the Playground

For too many children, violence in the news, on television, on the Internet and even just beyond the schoolyard fences, is a part of their daily lives. The last thing we need is for our children to be exposed to violence in school. Unfortunately, violence does occur in schools every day, in the form of bullying. Bullying is defined as the “intentional aggressive behavior that tips the balance of power and is often repeated over time.”And according to the National School Climate Center, every seven minutes a child is bullied on a school playground.
When bullying, teasing and name-calling are present on a school campus, it contributes to an environment in which students’ physical and social-emotional safety is at risk. It is the responsibility of the school, and in the best interest of the grown-ups working there, to create safe communities that ultimately help contribute to learning.
The good news is that there is a way to prevent bullying, one that focuses on recess and extends into the classroom. At Playworks, we have been promoting safe, healthy play on schoolyards for the past 16 years. A recent study by Mathematica Policy Research and Stanford University showed that Playworks schools not only prevent bullying, but increase students’ feeling of safety and inclusion.

Stop Bullying Video Challenge

The Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention are hosting a PSA contest for teens aged 13 - 18 years old. Interested youth should submit an original 30-60 second video showcasing the ways they are taking action against bullying and promoting a culture of kindness and respect in their schools and communities. PSAs should focus on the importance of being "more than a bystander" to bullying. 

The deadline to enter is October 4, 2012. Winning videos will be featured on with the winners receiving a cash prize ($500 for honorable mention and a $2,000 grand prize).

Topics: bullying, No bio box

North Carolina Teens Join Together Against Bullying

In North Carolina, teens are joining together to stand up against bullying. As part of the Salisbury Police Cadet Program, teens are joining youth court participants in making an anti-bullying video. 
The Salisbury Police Cadet Program is for young people ages 13 to 21 who are interested in a career in law enforcement. As cadets, they learn about the criminal justice system while gaining life skills and mentoring. This year, they are partnering with local teen court participants and Reclaiming Futures Rowan County.
Teen Court is a program that allows first-time teen offenders to be "tried" by their peers for misdemeanors. Teens serve as attorneys and jurors, while local attorneys serve as judges. Sentences given out through teen court often consist of restitution and community service, with a focus on rehabilitation instead of punishment.
From the Salisbury Post:

Addressing Youth Crime by Teaching Social Skills through Sports

Enrolling disadvantaged teens in pro-social activities may greatly decrease violent crime arrests and increase graduation rates, according to a new study by the University of Chicago Crime Lab
In the Crime Lab study, 800 disadvantaged boys in grades 7 - 10 were placed in Becoming a Man - Sports Edition (BAM-Sports Edition) programs during the 2009-2010 school year. The participating boys experienced a 44 percent drop in arrests for violent crime and a 23 percent increase in graduation rates. 
The BAM-Sports Edition program focuses on devleoping skills related to emotional regulation, control of stress response, interpersonal problem solving, goal setting and personal integrity. These are social-cognitive skills that research shows predict success inIt includes small group sessions, out-of-class homework assignments and after-school sports activities. The sports activities are designed to reinforce conflict resolution skills and program attendance.
According to the research brief:

It’s Just a Bad Egg, Throw it Away

A carton comes with 12 eggs, so what’s the big deal to just toss the bad one? There are 11 left.
If only everything was that easy.
Yesterday, Advancement Project, along with partners the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, and the Alliance for Educational Justice released a policy paper titled, Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right: Why Zero Tolerance is Not the Solution to Bullying. The Advancement Project works to eliminate the overuse of harsh discipline policies in schools. In compliment of this release, Advancement Project and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network hosted a Twitter town hall.
So, what happened?

Join the 6/26 Twitter Chat on Bullying

On Tuesday, June 26th, the Advancement Project, Gay-Straight Alliance Network and the Alliance for Educational Justice are hosting a Twitter chat on bullying. In particular, they will explore strategies that schools can take to end bullying. They will also discuss zero-tolerance and school-to-prison pipeline policies.
The three organizations are also releasing a policy report on bullying and zero-tolerance disciplinary measures.
To join the conversation, use the #bullychat hashtag on Twitter and RSVP on Facebook for the opportunity to submit questions ahead of time.

Bullying: A Root Cause We Can Uproot

Bully, a new documentary film by Lee Hirsch and Cynthia Lowen, is intimate, human, honest, and gorgeously scored—all the trappings of a good movie. But Bully’s passionate yet well-crafted social message – a plea to end bullying and improve millions of lives in the process – makes it truly great, and possibly the most important film of the year.

The movie portrays kids and families across the country whose lives have been irrevocably altered by bullying. A girl and her parents have been shunned and abused ever since she came out as a lesbian. A boy has convinced himself that the kids who punch, stab, and strangle him daily on the school bus do it because they are his “friends.” Another girl is charged with multiple felony counts after brandishing a gun in hopes of scaring off her tormentors. Two sets of parents try to cope after losing their sons, ages 17 and 11, to suicide. And there are millions more stories like these—13 million kids are bullied in the United States each year.

HHS and Dept. of Education (re)Launch

Good news for parents and educators looking for resources on bullying and prevention: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently relaunched the Stop Bullying website. The interactive site now includes information dedicated to preventing and addressing cyberbullying, bullying LGBT youth and bullying kids with special needs. There are separate sections for parents, educators and bullied kids.
From the press release:

The website provides a map with detailed information on state laws and policies, interactive webisodes and videos for young people, practical strategies for schools and communities to ensure safe environments, and suggestions on how parents can talk about this sensitive subject with their children. The site also explores the dangers of cyberbullying and steps youngsters and parents can take to fight it.
Research shows that bullying is physical and emotional abuse. Students who are bullied are more likely to struggle in school and skip class. They are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, be depressed, and are at higher risk of suicide. There is a Get Help page, which is directly linked to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which means young people can get immediate help for themselves or others if needed.

Topics: bullying, No bio box