Dear Honorable Members
of the House Education Committee,
I support HB 1444 - Requiring policies prohibiting harassment,
intimidation, and bullying on school grounds and at school activities.
My support has become very passionate
since the death of my son by "bullycide", a suicide caused by bullying
in his Middle School.
Bullies, harassment and assaults are running rampant within
the Public School Systems. Many times, harassment, teasing, rivalry,
ridicule, emotional or physical violence can lead to depression and low
self-esteem, problems that can traumatize a child into adulthood and affect
a student for the rest of their life. The act of being bullied tends
to increase some student/victims' isolation because their peers do not
want to lose status by associating with them, or because they do not want
to increase the risks of being bullied themselves.*
Here are some facts to consider when you communicate with
each other about bullying:
Three out of four students report that they have been bullied.
Ninety percent of students felt being bullied caused social,
emotional, or academic problems. (Studies show that both bullies and victims
have problems in later life related to their experiences.)
Victims are mostly boys, but girls are increasingly being
Bullying is reported as most severe in grades 7-9 with 4-6
Sixty-nine percent of students believe schools respond poorly
to reports of bullying and victimization.
Ridicule/teasing, verbal harassment, and practical jokes
are the most frequently reported forms of bullying. Physical attacks
are reported less frequently.
Forty-four percent of teachers believe disruptive school
behaviors are getting worse.
Each month over 250,000 students report being physically
One in five school students report avoiding rest rooms out
of anxiety about safety.
According to Webster's Dictionary,
the definition of a bully is: an over-bearing person who tyrannizes
the weak; intimidation. The definition of terror is:
extreme fear; one who causes terror; to rule by intimidation.
When a child is being bullied
they know what a terrorist is... they experience it everyday at school.
You may of noticed various television news reports of
school boys in Afghanistan are being, or have been, taught to be terrorists.
I know this is not being done in our schools, BUT, when a child is being
bullied and no one comes to their aid, for whatever excuse, that child
feels like their school condones bully behavior. There are a lot
of frustrated, hurt, and wounded children coming out of our schools today
and we have let them down by not doing anything about it.
I supported Governor Locke's Anti-Bully Bill last year.
I don't know what happened to that Bill or what caused it to die before
it had a chance. That's in the past. And,
now, after the events of September 11, 2001, we (adults) have come to understand
what a Bully is. We must take whatever actions we can
to protect our children and stop bullying in our schools.
I would like to give you some different stories to consider
as you talk about HB 1444. These stories are disturbing. I
hope, however, that you will see the life saving difference your work as
Legislators can have on so many young lives today. (Note:
I read bits and pieces of these three stories. You can read the entire
story by clicking on the links below.)
An interview with a killer who was bullied in a Tri-City Middle School.
BULLIES KILL & KIDS WHO ARE
BULLIED KILL - An opinion concerning Westley
Alan Dodd, Child Killer - by Thom Spencer
The story of a young girl who was bullied (to suicide) in a Tri-City Middle
THE BULLYCIDE OF APRIL HIMES
Bullies Who Kill - Brandon's
- As told by his mother Cathy
Here are some emails from Parents
and Students enduring Bullying in their schools...
Taken from the
OF HARASSMENT - STUDENT
OF HARASSMENT - PARENT
"I am now out of school but when i was in school a lot
of things happened to me and i went to a counselor and to the principal,
both. They told me they were going to take care of it but they did nothing
except give the students a little slap on the wrist. I went
through a lot and I had to deal with it on my own, no matter how many times
I asked for help. It kept getting worse and there were times when I
wanted to kill myself. Schools are supposed to protect their students and
make them feel safe. I feel like my school did neither. I was afraid to
go. They didn't even try to help me. There were a lot of people like
me. And I know one kid who had it worse than I. But no one tried to help
him either. The tormenting went on even after we graduated high school.
I feel like that was because the school did nothing to stop them from doing
this to him. He killed himself yesterday.
"I myself have been harassed at
every school i go to in different states and actually tried committing
suicide from it. everyday i walk home and i have guys throwing rocks
at me and saying awful things to where i want to crawl up and die.
i just hope we can find a way to help stop it. im sick of seeing
people hurt. if nobody does anything about it it'll only get worse"
"For the past three years i have
gotten bullied a lot. The school has done nothing to stop it. They have
had meetings with the kids that are doing the bullying and of course while
they have the kids there they say "oh we will stop" but that's when it
gets worse. I started in the high school this year. And it seems to
have gotten worse. I'm getting picked on very single day. I have missed
so much school to. Because i have stress. Depression. Anxiety. And
all that kind of stuff. The schools seems not to realize that the bullying
it just adding more stress on to me and its stopping me from getting an
education. I cant take much more of this... I cant take much more of
anything. I told my school they said i have emotional problems and i have
to deal with them. and forget everything that is happening to me. Well
i cant anymore..
I'm at the point i cry my self to sleep at night. that
im scared to walk alone in the hall ways of school. And the point where
im cutting myself because of the pain. and i don't want to deal with that
pain. Please help me!"
A mother says... "Our daughter
and many of her friends all fear for their safety in this school.
Their friends who attend other schools also fear in those schools, so this
They all agree worrying about grades, courses, their
future, etc. is minor compared to worrying about making it through the
A mother says... "Because of
the lack of interest in protecting children from being bullied I withdrew
my son from school and began homeschooling him. This does not solve
the ongoing problems that the school has but it does keep my son safe for
now. He was in the 7th grade when things became unbearable.
He will enroll in public school next year when he will go to high school."
A mother says... "How do you help
your child you see they are hurt by their classmates? My Son is an above
average student and he gets teased on an everyday basis. He
cannot eat due to severe stomach cramping. He has talked to his counselor
who said "you have to eat". He told me today he feels as though he is
going to have a nervous breakdown. The teasing is verbal. He is called
faggot.... among other things. It hurts me to no end to see my Son in so
much pain everyday. Where do I start. I can go to see his counselor
but what then? If he names Students he will receive backlash in the end
and Im afraid it will only get worse. He is getting depressed over this
never ending situation. I just don't know how to handle this anymore."
"A small portion of the skin on
the knuckle of my left index finger was burned off, in the middle of my
Latin class, by a student who was convinced that I was a "queer". He had
ripped the cover off of a camera, and he pressed it into my hand and charged
up the flash; the extreme heat left several large holes in my knuckle.
The Latin teacher did absolutely nothing upon notification; the bullies,
all seven of them, were called down to guidance and given a stern talking-to
and finger-wagging session; my mother responded with casual difference,
and my father blamed me for creating an environment favorable to have myself
victimized. The main bully was given the least punishment, I believe,
because his father is a very wealthy and very prominent local doctor.
I have contacted the school several times in regards to harassment, and
I am beginning to take up a more defensive stance for other students who
are being mistreated."
"I was harassed for many years,
beginning in the second to third grade stemming all the way through my
freshmen year in high school. I had cut my hair short, and many older
kids teased me and would always ask, are you a girl or a boy? Knowing
well that I was female. People would make fun of my appearance, and
everything about myself. I was an outgoing individual and loud and
loved to have fun. Every day, in the hall, on the bus, biking to
the store, many groups of kids singled me out. I became depressed, suicidal,
my self-esteem dropped to nothing. I wanted to die so many times.
Somehow I got through it. ...I survived, and the healing is probably
still going on, and I know it took well into my high school years to come
to an understanding of what happened..."
"i'm 17 y/o. and have always been
"different," a little effeminate, gay, school pariah since middle school,
quiet, but had some friends in elementary. i changed, once my "differences"
started to matter to other classmates. i was called names every day,
locker vandalized sometimes, beaten to chants of "kill the queer,"
anything i say or do mocked, so i no longer say anything there and move
as little as possible in classes. would like to be invisible there...
along with stopping bullying behavior, we have to teach kids that - no
matter what other's will think - stand up for the kid who gets beaten up,
mocked, pissed on, isolated. sit by the kid who eats alone. say hi. inquire
about his/her day. include everyone. why is that so hard for kids? how
many suicides and school shootings will it take before they learn that
the consequences of not doing that are devastating?"
"when i was in seventh grade (i
am now a junior in college) i was harassed daily by people who had previously
been my friends. i won't go into specifics because it hurts less
to think about it now, but it was the worst time of my life. the
memories and hurt followed me all of my life, and i had considered suicide
too numerous of times to count. ...looking back, i know that
so many of my problems began back in school, and it breaks my heart to
think that other kids might be going through those same experiences i was.
i didn't include my school name because i still struggle to leave behind
the painful memories sometimes, but i just wanted to write and tell you
that i hope you can reach as many young people as possible..."
Bullying in Schools will not stop
on its own.
Putting this in perspective: In the workplace bullies
are not tolerated. Bullies are laid off, fired, sued, and/or jailed.
On the street, if someone punches you it's an assault and you have the
right to defend yourself and press charges.
One more perspective: How a child perceives a
bully depends on how an Administrator, (Principals, Teachers, etc.), deals
with the bully.
("Effective principals are liked
and respected, rather than feared, and communicate caring for students
as well as willingness to impose punishment if necessary")
If Administrator's have strong anti bully rules then bullying will be understood
as unacceptable behavior. ("Identifying potentially
violent students and intervening before serious problems erupt has become
a high priority...")
Administrators in charge, (Principals,
Teachers, Counselors, etc.) who take the TIME to investigate harassment
accusations will have safer schools.
Putting this in perspective: Valued employees are
promoted, given incentives, bonuses, and good pay to keep them employed
at their job. Complaints are taken seriously and are investigated.
The investment in re-training a valuable employee insures that all efforts
will be made to keep the ones they have.
One more perspective: Sometimes it's easier to
call everything a "fight", disagreement, "clash of personalities", than
to give school bully victim's the time to verbalize what's happened to
them. Children should be considered by School Districts as valuable employees/customers.
There is nothing better than a happy customer! ("...any
student making violent threats towards others should be required to complete
a psychological assessment process and parental conferencing.")
Secured and watched schools (inside
and out) are a major factor in ensuring the safety of students and staff.
Putting this in perspective: At a workplace, if
someone is injured because a piece of equipment falls on them, would the
Employer say that they can't be responsible for what happens inside their
One more perspective: More and more School Districts
are realizing, because of tragic events like Columbine, that each child
deserves a safe, secure, learning, happy environment. ("School
discipline has two main goals: (1) ensure the safety of staff and students,
and (2) create an environment conducive to learning.")
The stigma can be severe if the
student talks about their abuser, bully or harasser.
Putting this in perspective: In the adult world
"tattletales" are called "Whistle blowers", and are protected. Many
times they are treated as heroes when all is said and done. If the
workplace abuse is not solved, governmental agencies or lawyers swoop down
upon the business and tear it apart.
One more perspective: A child should be just as
protected as an adult when they become a whistle blower. Administrators
must take seriously students who make complaints or bullying, no matter
how small. ("Adults sometimes have a tendency to
discount what adolescents say, believing that most of the stress youngsters
experience will pass as maturation occurs. This lack of empathy on the
part of adults may leave adolescents feeling misunderstood and alienated.")
Victims of bullies, harassment,
assault, and other violence inside their schools, are not getting the counseling
Putting this in perspective: If a mother is Abused
by her husband there are shelters where she can go to get help. She
will be told that she is a victim and didn't deserve to be beat up. There
are places for adults to get help for Abuse, Rape, drinking problems, depression,
stress, anxiety, etc.
One more perspective: Programs should be in place
for students who are victims of bullies, harassment or assault in every
school. ("Students who have witnessed or been involved
in violence suffer from post traumatic stress, which can include anxiety,
fear, emotional constriction, attention difficulties, and sleeplessness.
Thus, just as victims need counseling when they leave the emergency room,
students who were bystanders to the violence need carefully led discussions
to help them with their confusion, grief, and anger")
What kind of world would we have
if Bullying stopped in our schools?
When my son died my grief was beyond
words. Now, I wish to do all I can to prevent another parent from
going through that same pain. Suicide, AND Bullying has no boundaries,
and no political party. It doesn't matter what political party a child's
parent is, a bullied child cannot learn if they're afraid to go to school.
...Some children, like April, will take their own lives rather than go
Less suicides of children who
take their hurt out on themselves. (My son, Jared, died by suicide when
he was 13 years and 6 days old.)
Less school shootings, or other
violence, from children lashing out their anger on others.
More children attending school
because they are no longer afraid to go.
Parents who may choose to send their
child to public school rather than homeschool.
Students who are getting better
grades because they can concentrate more on their work rather than
the bully sitting next to them.
Less teenagers in Juvenile facilities,
because their bad bullying behavior was stopped when they were younger
before it got out of hand.
Less stress for everyone, teachers,
parents and kids. Everyone will be happier and healthier.
Children who grow up to be leaders
who lead by common sense and wisdom rather than by deceit, deception and
Please make a difference for our
children. Take action on HB 1444!
What can you do if your child is
Give the school a reasonable amount
of time to work out minor problems to your child's satisfaction and your
satisfaction as a parent.
In cases of a major harassment situation
such as a physical or sexual assault, call the police immediately.
These type of serious offenses must be handled by the police and entered
on the abuser or perpetrator's police record or Juvenile Record.
School Administrators can take some action's against the perpetrator(s)
but they are not police officers.
Document everything! Tape record
statements, type them up and have witnesses sign the statements.
Take pictures of injuries, places (buildings), people, etc.
Write letters to School Board Members.
Write letters to Board members separately and after each incident of harassment.
Write a letter to the Superintendent.
Write a letter to the Superintendent after each incident of harassment.
Write a letter to The Principal of
the school. Write a letter to the Principal after each incident of
Go to School Board meeting and speak
out. It's not just your child that you are thinking about, but all
the other children who are harassed and have parents who won't, or don't
know how, to speak for them.
Write multiple letters to your State
Representatives (The Education Committee). Tell them what is happening
in your school and how your Administrators are handling your child's case.
Ask them to support State laws to protect kids who are victims or
whistle blowers and stronger laws to punish bullies and perpetrators of
harassment. Write a letter to each member of the Committee separately
and after each incident of harassment. Send a copy of your letters to the
School Board Members, Superintendent and Principal of the offending school.
Write a letter to the Editor of your
local newspaper. Do not embarrass your child with details, but write
instead about your schools lack of response for harassed students in general.
Call a lawyer. If you have not been
satisfied with the response you have received from School Administrators
within a reasonable period of time, about two weeks, then hire an Attorney.
If this is a case of a major harassment situation (# 2), such as a physical
or sexual assault, call an Attorney within 24 hours.
For a Bibliography list go to http://www.jaredstory.com/bullyspeech1.html
For research, please visit, "Bullying Prevention - Links
that Support" at http://www.jaredstory.com/vip_links_bullying.html