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Mar-04-2009 19:00printcomments

New Reports Call Bullying in Oregon Schools a Major Problem

Advocates back stronger anti-bullying legislation; call on Legislature to take action.

Bullied kid
Courtesy: bestschoolprograms.com

(SALEM, Ore.) - A coalition of advocacy groups today released a pair of reports pointing to the prevalence of bullying in Oregon schools, calling the hostile campus climate a serious detriment to educational achievement.

The groups are joining with lawmakers to strengthen Oregon's anti-bullying law and create safeguards for youth in Oregon schools.

A new report demonstrates that minority youth are far more likely to be the targets of bullies than white youth.

"African American, Latino and Native American youth report up to 23% higher levels of harassment in our schools than white students," said Ebony Smith, of the Oregon Students of Color Coalition. "We have a responsibility to take action now, to ensure that our schools are safe for all youth."

A second report analyzes a survey of 3500 Oregon college students about the climate for gay and transgender students at high schools and universities.

"One in three gay and transgender students in Oregon indicate that the hostile climate in their high school created a significant barrier to graduation," stated Tash Shatz, of the Oregon Students Equal Rights Alliance.

"And more than half of gay and transgender college students concealed their sexual orientation or gender identity for fear of personal safety, discrimination, or rejection."

Advocates released these reports as the Legislature begins deliberations on House Bill 2599, legislation designed to strengthen and enhance Oregon's existing anti-bullying statute. HB2599 would ensure statewide adoption of anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies, create clear notice and complaint procedures and establish a comprehensive approach to address bullying.

The proposal strengthens existing statute by clarifying the definition of bullying, adding specific guidelines for making the policy available to the school community, and encouraging training programs. The legislation is expected to have its first hearing in the House Education Committee in early March.

"House Bill 2599 will strengthen Oregon's anti-bullying law, ensure statewide implementation, and help keep all children safe," said Sonya Fischer, a disability advocate and Board Member with Family and Community Together. She added, "This will make a difference for youth with disabilities who are too often the targets of bullying."

House Education Committee Chair Rep. Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis) joined advocates today, saying, "All kids should grow up free from fear of intimidation and harassment at school. By strengthening school anti-bullying policies, we can make Oregon schools safer, stronger and more secure." Gelser, a mother of four, chairs the House committee that is considering legislation to update and strengthen the bullying statute.

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Ezzeldin July 17, 2012 7:38 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you Amanda for your insight into bluiylng. Most of us have experienced bluiylng at school to some degree so I wish your website had been around when I was going to school. I have four boys and each one has also experienced it. Your expertise and knowledge about the subject is enormous so I thank you for helping me to help my boys. Keep the great work going. You are helping thousands of people on this subject

Ben Leichtling March 8, 2009 1:43 pm (Pacific time)

The effort to strengthen the school anti-bullying and anti-harassment laws is necessary, good and overdue. However, they’re still missing key elements that will be necessary to stop school bullying and abuse. The Committee recommends requiring all schools to have anti-bullying policies, making the policies public and designating a point person in each school for students and parents to turn to. I think that to make anti-bullying policies effective you need much more than a wall-plaque containing a policy statement. You need: • Ground rules that specify real-world examples of harassment, bullying and abuse that will not be tolerated. • Guidelines of accepted behavior to resolve disputes without bullying. • A program containing real consequences to deal swiftly with bullying incidents. • Specific examples to show bystanders how they can stop bullying in its tracks. • Proactive administrators, teachers and staff. Of course that takes training and education. The 40 percent of the students who reported being bullied and all of the others who weren’t willing to admit having been bullied would vote “Yes” to expending the money. It’s hard to learn or grow strong and straight when you’re being beaten down repeatedly. In my experience, the most important factors in making anti-bullying efforts effective are proactive administrators, teachers and staff. They set the standards and create the culture. Administrators, who are willing to let victims suffer while they attempt to rehabilitate habitual bullies, actually create hot houses in which bullies thrive. We need new laws because too many administrators are cowards. They’re afraid they’ll be sued by parents who want to protect their little terrorists. Therefore, we need to require administrators to act and also to protect them from suits when they do act. Children must be taught not to bully the weak or different, primarily by parents, teachers and administrators if they’re going to learn to be more civilized. True bullies will take empathy, kindness and tolerance as weakness. They’ll think we’re easy prey. It will encourage them, like sharks, to attack us more. Bullies will show you how far you need to go to stop them. On an individual basis, parents must teach children how to face the real world in which they’ll meet bullies all their lives, even if the children are small and outnumbered. That’s independent of the type of bullying – cyber bullying, physical bullying or verbal harassment or abuse. Help your children get out of their previous comfort zones and stop bullies. Sometimes, children can handle bullies by themselves, beginning with peaceful tactics and moving step-wise toward being more firm and eventually fighting to win. Or, depending on the situation, just get the fight over immediately. Most times, adult help is needed. When children learn how to stop bullies in their tracks, they will develop strength of character, determination, resilience and skill. They’ll need these qualities to succeed in the real-world. In addition to professional experience, I learned practical, pragmatic methods growing up in New York City and then watching our six children and their friends and enemies. And we live in Denver, home of Columbine High School. Disclosure: I’m the author of the books and CDs “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks,” “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” and “Eliminate the High cost of Low Attitudes.” I am available for coaching, consulting and speaking. To find practical, real-world tactics to stop bullies and bullying at school, please see my web site and blog at BulliesBeGone (http://www.BulliesBeGone.com).

ChrisJones March 5, 2009 9:03 am (Pacific time)

I'm sure this kind of thing is systemic throughout all government schools. No responsible parent should put there kid in these sess pits. (trust me I went to one) Passing a law will do nothing but make it worse unless your kid is gonna be a snitch, putting your child into much more serious danger at the hands of young criminal thugs.

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