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About the Coalition and New Jersey 
Anti-Bullying Organizational History

New Jersey Coalition was stated in 2000, (post-Columbine) when there were no existing statewide coalitions or non-profit organizations concerned with bullying and New Jersey had not yet held a statewide conference specifically addressing bullying.  (Several conferences have subsequently been held, one of them the kick-off for New Jersey Cares About Bullying in March, 2003; another featured Dan Olweus and was organized and hosted by the New Jersey State Bar Foundation in October, 2003.) The Coalition organized two meetings a year, the most recent of which was in November 2010 and which representatives of 40 state non-profits and governmental organizations attended.

Since the New Jersey Coalition was stated, two other statewide initiatives arose.  One of these was New Jersey Cares About Bullying, a project of the state's office of Bias Crime and Community Relations, a part of the Attorney General's office, headed by Hester Agudosi, an assistant attorney general.  The Project Coordinator was Randy Ross (she has moved from NJ, as of 2/05, to a position as a regional - New England states - consultant for bullying and bias-crime matters based at Brown University).

The other was a revival of an earlier inter-organizational process, called Safe Schools, which had been started by Dr. Michael Greene when he was founding director of the Violence Institute of New Jersey. ACLU-NJ and GLSEN-NJ played key roles, and helped Senator Barbara Buono obtain passage of the first New Jersey anti-bullying law in 2002.

The state Department of Education has also at times held meetings in which various organizations have participated, but the impact seems limited and ongoing structure non-existent or unclear. Currently, DOE has responded to the new (2011) law by convening an advisory process (as the law requires). (See 'newest news' page, this site, for a comment on this DOE process.) Coalition (SG) is participating in this.

All efforts to address bullying are very much welcome and needed, of course.  On September 17, 2003, a meeting of organizations from all prior initiatives was held at Overlook Hospital in Summit, organized by Stuart Green.  One goal of this meeting was to create a single statewide network of non-profit organizations (and ultimately individuals) concerned about bullying.  Possible names included New Jersey Bullying Awareness and Prevention, Stop Bullying Now New Jersey or a different name.  But at this point only NJ Coalition serves as an informal inter-organizational network.

However, Rutgers University Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology has received funding for the past several years (since 2006) to address bullying issues, including surveying school policies statewide, providing trainings on policies and practices, and to implement a Developing Safe and Civil Schools project. These projects, led by Dr. Maurice Elias, and Dr. Brad Lerman, have associated networks of their own, though also have worked with the Coalition. Also at Rutgers, for about four years, until recently, federal funding supported the NJ Center for Character Education, another important project and network relevant to anti-bullying efforts, led by Dr Phillip Brown, a former high level staffer at NJ DOE.

A number of state organizations are important in NJ anti-bullying work. Foremost of these, currently, is Garden State Equality, the LGBT advocacy organization led by Steven Goldstein. GLSEN continues to be helpful, especially through its national organization, based in NYC. A very important and longstanding contribition has been made, even before Columbine, by NJ State Bar Foundation, whose director of training, Leisa-Anne Smith, has been providing anti-bullying seminars to school staff and administrators for more than a decade. NJ Child Assault Prevention and Prevention First have also provided anti-bullying interventions and trainings statewide. Statewide Parents Advocacy Network (SPAN) has provided support to parents, especially for children with special needs, on a wide range of issues, including bullying. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has also provided important advocacy and support for new law and practices.  Education Law Center, whose lawsuit created the Abbott Districts in NJ and dramatically elevated funding for schools in poorly resourced communities, has also been supportive of anti-bullying work.  The creation of NJ Commission on Bullying in Schools (by law, in 2009) chaired by Stuart Green, allowed for the subsequent creation of an Advisory Group to the Commission's Chair. The Group, chaired by Dr Maurice Elias of Rutgers, is of potential importance. The Commission's work has ended, but the Advisory Group still exists. The group members have written and submitted papers and advisories to various journals and venues. One of the Coalition's goals is to encourage DOE and the state to rely on the work of this advisory group to create a framework to guide the state's (schools') anti-bullying efforts. It is unclear at the moment if this effort will succeed.

     Other other important recent developments include: (1)the work of the Child Advocacy Center of Montclair State University to address bullying and provide trainings. Dr Robert McCormick is the Center's director, and Frank Vespa-Papaleo, Esq., is associated, as is (more recently Stuart Green). (2) The Newark-based and Attorney General-associated Miller Institute has created a state anti-bullying conference, taking place this year (6/11) at Rutgers, which may be the first of a series. (3) Dr MIchael Greene is now associated with the Nicholson Foundation, which addresses youth violence. (4) Several anti-bullying advocates, including Dr Green, Dr Greene and Dr Paula Rodriguez-Rust have been doing expert witness work in cases in which bullying is the prominent issue. For the advocates, such work - while private practice - also constitutes a way to advance societal pressure on educational systems to change.

(Apologies for omissions in this summary - corrections will be made.)

See the Coalition Updates page for current information about the Coalition and its work.

For more information, or participation, contact: Click here to email Stuart Green, DMH, LCSW, or call (908) 522 2581.


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