In the past almost-two years (5/12-present):
-Stuart Green has continued to field calls from parents of bullied children, an average of one a day, as well as calls from schools, lawyers, media, other organizations, etc., providing information on bullying, most of which is available on the website. This includes, on the home page, a 4-5 page guidance document for parents, as well as the Coalition's three advisory documents covering in details key aspects of bullying, the third document developed last year with Dr Paula Rodriguez-Rust covering bullying and LGBT issues..
-Several more letters have appeared in the Times, an op-ed in the Star Ledger, and presentations have been given at various conferences. Notably SG and Coalition Research Advisor Dr Michael B. Greene have developed the idea of suggesting that inadequately addressed bullying in schools be regarded as institutional child neglect. A presentation on this was given at last year's annual Child Advocacy conference, in NJ, and another presentation on it is being given this May at NASW-NJ's annual meeting. SG and MBG have also continued to pursue opportunities to critique the inadequate violence assessment process in NJ, including the EVVR and also DOE's newly proposed grading scheme for schools, which we consider impossibly flawed (relying as it does entirely on school administrator self-report).
-SG has extended his expert witness role for lawyers bringing bullying-related lawsuits. Other Coalition members - e.g., Michael Greene and Paula Rodriguez-Rust - have also taken such cases.
-The 2012 and 2013 August ICLE bullying and law conferences were very well attended and received. (Info on 2012, below.) The 2013 conference featured Matthew Mayer of Rutgers talking about the excellent AERA report he co-authored, and a range of additional well appreciated presenters (lawyers). Another one (August 2014) is in development. (See Updates page for info, shortly.)
-In November 2013, SG started hosting a radio show focused on bullying, broadcast Saturdays at 1pm on 920TheVoice, a station covering Mercer (NJ), Philadelphia and Bucks County (PA). Each show features an interview with a guest expert, with a wide range of well known experts on bullying and school climate having appeared already.
-SG has developed with Kean University's Counseling program an agreement to present in October 2014 the first NJ conference focused solely on the critically important work of Stan Davis. (Date and information to be announced on the Updates page, shortly.)
-The Education Law Center/Volunteer Lawyer's for Justice/Coalition developed Anti-Bullying Lawyers group has continued to develop (initially as a listserv) and will now be holding its first in-person meeting at NJ Law Center on April 1st, 2pm. For information, contact Elizabeth Athos of ELC. (That morning, a meeting of the Coalition itself will also take place, featuring a discussion of the first year's final report of the Anti-Bullying Task Force.)
-More notes to follow.
1. The Education Law Center's (and Volunteer Lawyers for Justice's) Coalition-associated pro bono law project has now handled several cases on behalf of families (of children bullied at school) who would not otherwise have been able to hire private attorneys for advocacy or lawsuits. The cases have all been settled, with favorable outcomes for the families.
2. Talks have been given in a number of venues, including at the annual meeting of the National Association of Social Workers - NJ; for the state learning disabilities consultants organization; for counselors at a partner/family violence project; for the Newark School District's annual parent meeting (attended by about 500 parents); a webinar for NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders; a talk for students and faculty of Yeshiva University's School of Social Work; trainings for school staff at Montclair State University's Center for Child Advocacy; and talks in other venues and for other organizations scheduled.
3. The next Coalition meeting takes place June 7th at NJ Law Center (registration closed). The meeting will feature a dialogue between Prof. Maurice Elias of Rutgers, a leading national (and international) expert on school climate, and Stan Davis, one of the country's leading anti-bullying advocates, moderated by Stuart Green. The dialogue will be videorecorded, with the hope of editing sections of it for wider distribution (e.g., YouTube and other venues), including making it available to legislators and leaders who wish an informal authoritative orientation to bullying issues.
4. Stuart Green is organizing the second of a series of annual legal conferences on bullying for NJ's Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE), to take place on August 8th at NJ Law Center, 8:30am-3pm. ICLE charges $200 for attendance (including breakfast and lunch), with some discounts for organizations available. Registration is still open. The conference will feature Jeffrey Youngman, the lawyer who obtained the $4.2 million verdict for Sawyer Rosenstein in the Ramsey School District case; Jeffrey Tanenbaum, who was involved in the Cherry Hill case of teacher bullying; Luanne Peterpaul of Garden State Equality on challenges and changes to the anti-bullying bill of rights; Hester Agudosi of the Attorney General's office on police and prosecutor perspectives on bullying; Estelle Bronstein of Division on Civil Rights on bias-based bullying; Leisa-Anne Smith of NJ State Bar Foundation on trainings for school staff; Elizabeth Athos of Education Law Center on the pro bono law project; Maurice Elias of Rutgers on what schools should be doing; Dave Rubin of the Bar Association's School Law Committee on ethical issues in addressing school bullying; Michael Kaliber of the School Boards Association on school administrative and board perspectives in bullying cases; and a panel (Stuart Green, Michael Greene, and Paula Rodriguez-Rust) discussing expert witness issues in bullying cases.
5. The challenge to the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights via the appeal to the Council on Local Mandates has been met by the Legislature and Governor, with the law having been revised in two ways: $1 million has been appropriated to the law's Bullying Prevention Fund, to assist with the cost of trainings; and a Task Force has been created to make recommendations to promote the law's implementation. The make-up of the Task Force (seven members, 4 appointed by the Governor, 3 by the Legislature) is of course the critical issue. So far, it looks as if the Task Force will be well appointed. One of the announced members is Dr. Brad Lerman of Rutgers, an active Coalition participant. Other appointments have been of some concern, the concern being that some members may not sufficiently advocate for and reflect the concerns of mistreated children and their families, and instead prioritize the needs and preferences of school administrators. In the end, we are hopeful that the make-up of the Task Force will reflect an advocacy perspective in its majority, which is the most we can realistically expect.
6. The Coalition's Expert Advisory Group has now issued (only) two documents, one in September, another in January. The first was an overview of the bullying problem and how to address it, the second was on bullying of children with 'disabilities'. A third document, on bullying of lesbian, gay and transgender (and other) children is being finalized now and will be widely distributed shortly. A 4th document, on bullying in early childhood, is still in early draft form. The Group is behind its desired schedule, of issuing a new document every two months. The group, which has over 20 participants, and represents the majority of NJ's colleges and universities (Princeton is so far a notable omission, though it has been invited), is meeting on June 7th at the NJ Law Center.
12/11: New Project!
A new program started by Education Law Center (ELC), with Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, with the involvement of the Coalition: Pro Bono Law Project (for bullying cases). This project was envisioned by the Coalition ten years ago but the time has never been right until now, and ELC deserves all credit for getting it done! The project involves providing free training on bullying for lawyers who agree to devote pro bono (charity) time to families who need legal representation to bring lawsuits against schools in which their children have been hurt (bullied - repeatedly assaulted and terrorized over months or years, with schools having failed to prevent or adequately respond). Dozens of lawyers attended the training conducted Nov 29th, hosted by Rutgers Institute for Professional Education. See the attached notice for the training. One case is already underway, more to follow. A related project (to begin shortly) involves providing training for expert witnesses who agree to provide service on a pro bono basis.
Pro Bono law project
Where we are now:
As of today (12/13/11), we are three months into the implementation of the new Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights in NJ. Schools are going through an adjustment period. In the absence of sufficient DOE guidance, law firms stepped in to fill the vacuum. Given a surfeit of advice from lawyers in addition to their own nervous reaction to the law, schools have generally engaged in an overly legalistic overreaction to the letter of the law, similar to a physician practicing defensive (as opposed to patient-centered) medicine, thereby overburdening themselves while not focusing on the spirit of the law (protecting, supporting, including, engaging, connecting with kids). This behavior is normal in an adjustment period, though dysfunctional. Flames have predictably been fanned by organizations representing school administrators who, at the same time they state their recognition of the importance of the issue the law addresses, complain vociferously about the law and the burdens they feel it imposes. For one thing, the law was not written to make life simpler or easier for school administrators (with the uncertain benefits which administrative simplicity or ease might then convey to children). The law was written to honor and respond to the needs and perspectives of bullied children and their families, and the community advocacy organizations which represent them. The law requires of educators that which no educators should need a law to spur them to provide. It is not possible to be an educator worthy of the name - or to have a school worthy of that name - without protecting, supporting, including, engaging and connecting with children. Further, this is the third law the NJ legislators have had to pass on this issue, mainly because schools did not respond adequately to the intent, spirit or letter of the previous two laws. The 2002 law asked schools to develop anti-bullying policies and implement the approaches to bullying those policies described. But rather than meaningfully develop policies, most schools (if not virtually all) simply took templates of policies from the DOE or SBA websites and added the district's and schools' names to the papers. Little was implemented, so the policies remained merely paper, in most cases. In essence, the law was not obeyed (widely). And too many children continued to suffer. So another law was passed in 2007. The 2007 law required schools to post their policies prominently on their websites, among other small demands. But even a casual glance at most school websites subsequently revealed wide disregard of the law. Fortunately, the 2007 law created a state Commission on bullying. The report the Commission issued in December 2009 became the basis for the 2011 Bill of Rights, passed in November 2010 and signed into law January 2011. The law is strong, meaningful, and a genuine spur to schools to take action. The actions are needed. More to come ...
Where we are now:
(1) As of today (6/5/11) DOE has not yet finished and put out the various materials needed/required in response to the law, including regulations, a plan for training, an on-line resource with a test included, guidance about investigating and reporting incidents co-developed with Division on Civil Rights, and a basis and system for grading. From what we have heard, the training plan will consist about five hours of training provided to district anti-bullying coordinators distributed/conducted through the country superintendents' offices using a train-the-trainer model in which the district superintendent will be expected to conduct the same training for the district's school-based anti-bullying specialists. The basis for assessing progress on addressing HIB and assigning a grade to each school will be the EVVRS, modified to now include the various categories for incidents (eg., whether the bullying targeted a particular characteristic), among other variables. There are a number of concerns one may have (should have) about the current approach, if this information is correct. (1) Inadequate intensity: Having a one-time (a year) five-hour training obeys the letter of the law (which requires that DOE provide training), but not the spirit of the law (which would require that the training be reasonably expected to adequately provide school staff with the training need to meaningfully protect and support children, and address bullying. ... (note to be continued ... )
In the past five months, since the last update note (below), efforts to craft a new, stronger anti-bullying law, in part based on the work of the state Commission, succeeded. Though some deny it, and those who do reasonably point out that efforts toward new law have been going on for the year since the Commission's report, we believe the new law succeeded substantially because of the tragedies (bullying-related suicides) which have continued to occur, and most notably in NJ that of Tyler Clementi, at Rutgers. In any case, the new law, the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, was passed by the Legislature in November-December 2010, and signed by Governor Christie into law in January 2011. All efforts on our part, since the passage of the law (to which we contributed) have gone into trying to ensure that schools, districts, and state organizations, especially DOE, and the Universities, respond well to society's demands for action on this issue, embodied in the new law. For further comment about this, see the 'News and Updates' page on this site.
In terms of the Coalition, a transition is underway, thought it is not entirely clear what the outcome will be. There is an effort underway to 'move' some Coalition functions to one of the state's universities, including the hotline (which continues to get, on average, a call a day from the family of a bullied child, as well as a few calls each week from schools asking for guidance, and others - e.g., consultants, entrepreneurs, and reporters). There is also an effort to create a 'training team' function out of those involved with the Coalition. This would not be necessary if state DOE and other state agencies took a more active and effective role in creating structures which could do that job. But it's not clear that will happen. And perhaps it's appropriate, in any case, that citizen-entities with a passion for the work, whether non-profit or not, help out. That's a philosophical issue. But the concern is that the quality of such efforts, and their legitimacy, will vary widely, without some cohesive, state-initiated, transparent and vetted process.
The next Coalition meeting and educational session will probably take place in August, on a day when we are organizing for ICLE an educational program for lawyers to take place at NJ Law Center. (To be confirmed and notice posted.) All inquiries should be directed to Stuart Green at 908 522-2581 or by email to email@example.com
Please note that the only reasonably active updated part of this website is 'News and Events' section linked at the Home page (click on the red circle at the left). The Coalition is a volunteer effort, with most of the work - including website updating - done by one person, who also answers the phones, gives talks, etc., etc. Having said that, some updating seems indicated, given the tremendously and rapidly escalating attention focused on bullying because of what seems to be an increasing number of terrible bulying-related tragedies, suicides most of all. The note two years ago (below) reported the ongoing work of the (then new) NJ Commission on Bullying in Schools. The Commission report was handed in to government in December of 2009, and most efforts since then have gone to the hope that the Commission's work (and report) would be followed by new law and strengthened school practices in NJ. And all of this taking place in a political and economic environment that has changed tremendously even since the Commission started its work. We remain hopeful of progress.
In the note two years ago, the possibility was raised that some new structure, whether governmental or community-based, would arise to replace the Coalition. This has not occurred, though many non-profit organizations are concerned about bullying and doing some good ongoing work. The Coalition is therefore having another organizational meeting this month, on October 25th. The meeting will feature concise updates from various experts about various aspects of bullying. This is an organizational meeting, not a conference, so attendance is limited to representatives of NGO's and government organizations. If you represent such an organization and are not already aware of the meeting and would like to attend, contact Stuart Green at 908 522-2581.
The only current activity reflective of the Coalition is: (1) Stuart Green is chairing the state Commission on Bullying in Schools, whose report is being written now and will be submitted to state government shortly (for official release mid-November - see this site's home/events page for details). (2) The Coalition phone line (908 522-2581) continues to be answered, with calls from parents and organizations seeking advice and support continuing to come in - hopefully this service will be taken over in the coming year by some new structure created as a result of the Commission recommendations). (3) The website continues to be updated (in part).
As of November, if the Commission's work is done, the Coalition can become active again in the sense of hosting meetings and facilitating collaborative work on projects. However, the hope, again, is that a new structure created by government as a result of the Commission's recommendations, will obviate the need for the Coalition. Even if there is no new government-initiated structure, there are at least three existing organizational structures which might replace the current Coalition:
One such organization is the Workplace Bullying Institute started by two psychologists in the mid-west (Minnesota?). The Institute is not NJ-specific but has presence in many states including NJ, through the work of volunteers. While their main focus is on strengthening workplace measures to address bullying through changes in state laws, one could envision an extension of their professional and volunteer activity to include a school focus.
Another entity is the four year old International Bullying Prevention Association started by Stan Davis, of Maine, with the heavy involvement of the Olweus organization. That Association holds highly successful (e.g., well-attended) annual conferences in the U.S. (the fourth or perhaps fifth one is coming up in Pittsburgh in November). To my knowledge they have not developed any state-specific process (e.g., chapters) but this could be explored.
A third organzation is Bullypolice. Again, they are not NJ-specific but they do seem to have state chapters. Their main activity is apparently running the Bullypolice website, which (for years) has done a good job of monitoring laws on bullying in every state.
And, last, it is very important to note that NJ has a number of very solid non-profit organizations which address childhood bullying (among their other activities), including (partial list only), NJ Child Assault Prevention, Association for Children of NJ, Statewide Parents Advocacy Network, NJ Parents Caucus, NJ State Bar Foundation, NJ Anti-Defamation League, ACLU, Prevention First, etc. etc. etc. These are of course some of the same organizations which participate in the Coalition. But any one of these organzations could easily do what the Coalition does (convene meetings with other organizations of similar interest, maintain a hotline and a website, respond to requests for talks, etc.).
Once the Commission's report is in, mid-November, we'll see where things go and where they stand.
3/08 Update: In the past eight months, activity has consisted mainly of trying to keep up with a burgeoning literature (which I rarely have time to post on this site, but I'll try to do better), continuing to take calls from parents of bullied children (almost daily) and schools (occasionally), giving talks to school and community groups, still (! - it's been a while) trying to move the law project forward, and focusing hope and activity mainly on the prospect of new legislation and goverment support for a state initiative. That legislation and government support have now been made real, as of a few months ago, through the work of Garden State Equality and others, with the enactment of the new anti-bullying law. A commission is currently being formed to recommend further legislation as well as work on the initiative. All people and organizations we've worked with will surely be glad to be called on as needed to participate in this effort. A Coalition meeting and conference is long overdue, and hopefully this can occur over the coming year, perhaps as part of the Commission's need to hear from the organizational community and public.
8/15/07 Update: Current activity includes: (1) working with many Coalition members/groups to finalize a package of 'core materials' for distribution to all school districts, with support and leadership from Office of Bias Crime and Community Relations. and Union County Prosecutor's Office. (2) Calls continue to come in regularly from parents, school staff, and media.
(3) No meeting is planned - we continue to await follow-up to the meeting and process recently convened by the NJ Department of Education.
6/6/07 Update: Interesting legislative development in CT, which should be of interest to NJ.
CT legislation proposed
5/22/07 Update: I'm especially reminded at times of the critical work on behalf of children, beyond a specific focus on bullying, being done by the organizations participating in the Coalition. Tourette Syndrome Association of NJ is certainly doing such work. Here's a recent article on just one of TSA-NJ's many great programs.
5/20/07 Update : A while ago, came across this interview with Eliot Aronson, one of the country's leading social psychologists and developer of the 'jigsaw' collaborative learning method, whose book, "No One Left to Hate," published after Columbine, is one of the most important works on school bullying. Worth reading (book and interview)! Aronson interview - NY Times
4/24/07 Update: Since the LW decision, an active campaign is underway to inform the public about the decision and its implications. The next upcoming program is organized by ICLE at NJ Law Center on May 30th. Here are the details:
4/11/07 Update: (1) A guide for schools was published in 2006 by a state of Maine government commission and made available to everyone today by the Equity national listserv. The guide, which relies heavily on the work of Stan Davis, is the most comprehensive, well written (and beautifully presented) and useful document I've ever seen for use by schools ready to meaningfully, effectively address bullying. Although we (NJ Coalition) are working with OBCCR (NJ's Bias Crime office) to craft a NJ-specific framework for a 'kit' to distribute to NJ schools, as previously noted, this Maine guide can provide immediately available and more than adequate guidance to any school right now. Here's the guide:
Maine bullying guide
(2) Upcoming conference (international bullying prevention association) (Nov 07) featuring Ken Rigby, the Australian researcher, as a keynote. This looks to be an excellent conference and NJCAP will be represented there, among other possible NJ organizations. Attendance encouraged!
3/8/07 Update: New brochure on legal rights of (and advocacy resources for) bullied children!! Click on this: RIGHTS BROCHURE or, for the brochure in Spanish, click on this: RIGHTS BROCHURE - SPANISH. To order copies of the brochure, contact ACLU-NJ or the Coalition.
3/07 Update: (1) NJ Supreme Court renders important (positive!) decision in LW case (see 'News and Events' page, this site). Impact of the decision has already been evident, in the heightened expectations of the parents who call us, in the increased efforts by schools (more calls to the Coalition seeking advice and support are one indicator), and in the increasing efforts of non-profits and government to fill the gaps in existing services available to bullied children and their families (results to be seen soon, we hope). We are participating in programs (eg., in March and May at NJ Law Center) organized by NJ Division on Civil Rights to bring understanding of the decision to various audiences.
(2) Coalition law project organizations will soon launch a new effort to recruit and provide training for private lawyers with ultimate goal of creating a process by which at least some bullied children have expert legal advocacy available to them they weren't able to obtain before (because of the very limited number of private attorneys with expertise and availability - and affordability - to this point).
(3) We continue to work (hopefully near the end at this point) with leadership from NJ Office of Bias Crime and Community Relations on the 'kit' (core package of materials about bullying) to be distributed to all school districts in NJ.
(4) ACLU (and other Coalition organizations) have produced a great new brochure on legal rights of (and advocacy resources for) bullied children.
(5) We are happy to report that Stan Davis is about to publish his second book, which focuses on how schools can support and empower bystanders in addressing bullying. Based on an initial impression (of manuscript in draft), this should become another major resource for us. (To see why we think so, see his first book, Schools Where Everyone Belongs, or visit his website - www.stopbullyingnow.com.)
(6) We hope to hold another Coalition educational and networking event in June (back-up date: August); details to follow soon.
1/07 Update : In the past year, the Coalition continued to have occasional networking meetings, conducted a successful (50 participants) training for lawyers at NJ Law Center, is engaged in a project with the Attorney General's Office of Bias Crime and Community Relations to develop and distribute a core package of anti-bullying materials to all school districts in the state, has helped ACLU develop a legally-oriented anti-bullying brochure, has presented talks for schools and other organizations on bullying and on hazing, answers several calls a week from parents and school staff on the hotline (908-522-2581), providing referrals and resources, and continues to await a final decision on the LW case from the NJ Supreme Court.
2/06 Update: Quarterly meeting did not occur because all available time/energy has gone into following up on the 12/7/05 Appellate Division decision on LW. Specifically, moving the Coalition's 'law project' forward has been the consuming focus. Working with lawyers from Coalition-involved organizations (Elizabeth Athos - Education Law Center; Jeanne Locicero - ACLU; Leisa-Anne Smith - NJ State Bar Foundation; Bear Atwood and Frank Vespa-Papaleo - NJ Division on Civil Rights, Hestor Agudosi-NJ Office of Bias Crime and Community Relations) and Jerry Tanenbaum - a private attorney, planning has advanced to establish a bullying-related training program for lawyers, to be followed by establishment of a mechanism for connecting such lawyers with families of bullied children and schools seeking legal advice (toward minimizing liability by strengthening approaches to bullying). SG attended the recent ICLE conferences on Family Law and School Law (at which Frank Vespa-Papaleo delivered a strong keynote address, focused on LW) and staffed an exhibitor's table, courtesy of ICLE. A package of materials, including Coalition handouts, a Law Journal article on the LW decision by Jerry Tanenbaum
, an article comparing states' anti-bullying laws by Michael Greene and Randy Ross, and NJSBF material (courtesy of Leisa-Anne Smith)
was given out. There was great interest at both conferences. Hundreds of the packages were given out to lawyers who stopped by the table, at least 50 conversations about bullying were conducted, and (most important) approximately 70 lawyers indicated a desire to be contacted about the training, which ICLE has agreed to sponsor. The training will be conducted on a date in late Sept. or early Oct. A draft proposal for the training and its faculty has been favorably received, and the program will be well finalized and ready by the training date. Managing the communications and work for the law project has taken up all time which would otherwise available to convene our quarterly meeting. Our next meeting is therefore likely to occur in early May, rather than - as was planned - in late January.
These time/energy-limit issues will continue to occur until the Coalition process is more formalized and paid staff available. Steps toward obtaining 501c-3 status will benefit from offers of pro bono legal help, several of which were received during the law conferences. SG will follow up. In the meantime, an application was made to the internship program at a local university - such help is unlikely to arrive before summer and will be (itself) quite limited (e.g., one school term, probably), though appreciated.
A new handout - Helping Bullied Children - was written (Stuart Green), reviewed (Michael Greene) and posted on the site. Parents have continued to call at a rate of several/week, to receive information which may be helpful to their situations (bullied children, commonly) or for referrals (e.g., to Office of Bias Crime and/or Civil Rights division). Press has continued to call as well (several/month) for comments on developments/articles. And schools have been in contact to ask about programs.
Several talks have been done, including one on hazing (for Bob Baly and NJISAA) at the Yogi Berra museum. Other developments will be reported, and scheduling/agenda for the next meeting announced.
The slow, frustrating pace of other projects, for various and understandable reasons, continues.
10/05 Update: There was good attendance at the 9/22 Coalition meeting. Attendees heard a review by Michael Greene (Youth Consultations Service) of recent developments in the bullying-related literature (summary to be posted), and by Elizabeth Athos (Education Law Center) of the status of the LW appeal, and other bullying-related legal developments (summary to be posted). Concern was expressed about a well publicized series of talks in NJ sponsored by a continuing education company in which the focus is on encouraging bullied children to behave differently as a proposed solution to bullying. Steps taken toward developing the Coalition as a 501c-3 non-profit organization were described. Thanks to Leisa-Anne Smith and NJ State Bar Foundation for hosting and support, as usual. Further information to be posted, as mentioned.
9/05 Update: It's frustrating at times to report only slow progress - at least on the Coalition organizational and project front. By contrast, national events continue to move quickly, including:
(1) the trend toward parents taking bullying concerns to court - and achieving settlements and favorable judgments;
(2) media attention continues to increase, and the quality of what is reported is increasing as well. Newspaper reports much more routinely (and accurately) depict bullying as a serious matter which must be primarily addressed by adults;
(3) schools - perhaps in part in response to factors 1 and 2, above, are increasingly requesting talks and advice about programs and resources. Perhaps most important, oral arguments in the LW case (at the appellate level) are taking place in early October (see 'upcoming events' announcement and/or 'legal issues' page, this site).
However, in all other Coalition project areas (see 7/05 note, below) we do not yet have major new progress to report. The controlling factor is the limited time anyone has available to put in on these overarching and interorganizational projects. At the upcoming meeting (9/22, 12pm, at NJ Law Center) we'll hear an update on the cascade of bullying-related studies in the past year (from Dr. Michael Greene), an update on legal developments (from Elizabeth Athos), and try to move the various projects forward. As usual, contact Stuart Green at (908) 522-2581 or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are senior staff of a non-profit or governmental organization and interested in attending.
7/05 Update: (1) Parents' Campaign: The parents' campaign meeting at NJ Law Center successfully identified a core group of parents committed to developing the campaign. They've been communicating and have received input and encouragement from Lisa Toomey (CT campaign) and I. But it's been slow off the ground to this point. Org dev is not easy, and each parent has their own family situation as an active focus, so ... This needs nurturing in various ways: that's the stage we're in. Both short-term 'wins' and long-term plans are important. There is our Coalition's vision/hope for what the parents can do and what next steps could be, but activity is the parents' work process and needs to be on their timeline. It's not yet clear what will develop from this.
(2) Hotline: A meeting with Office of Bias Crime to discuss extending the reach and services of the existing hotline (877 NO-BULLY) is coming up. Parents Anonymous (extensive and relevant hotline experience) will be involved in the meeting. Hotline/resource line issues can be quite complicated in NJ. Even very well-established and model entities such as NJ Self-Help Clearinghouse are struggling to sustain themselves and United Way's strong development in this area has implications for all such services as well. I'll report on the meeting right afterwards.
(3) Resources/Training: Requests for talks are still increasing, organizations report. OCCBR is continuing its series of cyberbullying conferences - the next one is fall '05. NJSBF trainings continue to be overbooked. CAP and other organizations continue to guide school interventions, and there have been inquiries about the Olweus team's NJ work. On a national level, Google and NY TImes news tracking continues to indicate still-increasing coverage of bullying. The Times, in particular, continues to be receptive to bullying-related commentary (e.g., letters to the editor). Stan Davis' book, Schools Where Everyone Belongs, has now been picked up by a publisher (Research Press). Stan is coming to NJ in December to do a training. We are considering a book - or other - event, while he is available, to promote awareness of bullying and the whole school model, as a special educational activity for a selected audience, or as a fundraising event (e.g., to raise money for bullying-related research, or Coalition activities). We get feedback that the Resource Project's 'guide for school administrators' is very useful, and there is enthusiastic response from audiences at talks about the other handouts. There's a new one - support for children - on the website's 'resources' page. Next step for the resource project still needs to be taken; the plan was for a 'database' noting programs and progress in NJ. Realistically, this will await paid staff (or an exceptionally dedicated volunteer with lots of time to devote). But this remains a gap to be addressed and it will be needed for the hotline project, among other uses. In terms of training, in addition to ongoing NJSBF, CAP and other organizational training activities, Leisa-Anne Smith (NJ State Bar Foundation) and Jeannette Collins (CAP) are certified Olweus trainers, and Cheryl Mojta of CAP is taking the training. Jeanette is doing an implementation in Cranford, and other implementations will be done. And - aside from official Olweus activity - there's some good activity addressing bullying going on in the state (very far from enough). It would be good to be able to track this better. It's hard to have enough contact and personal visits to identify and 'evaluate' (informally) everything, but there are tempting programs in play. One recent one from Camden County about what the prosecutor's office is doing was extremely positive, but it's hard to know enough about the various activities without meetings, observation, review of materials, etc.
(4) Website: The website is getting 'hits' at a rate of about 200 a month. This is without any publicity, or Google adds, money put in, etc. Additional help for updating is still needed. There's usually a lag of a few weeks before accumulated material is posted. Parents and professionals are making contact through the site (there's a posting form on the site, as well as contact info for all of us), receiving individual replies. But it would be good to start a regular email 'newsletter' to those groups (time is the limiting factor, as usual). Also, through the site, we've gotten some bullying-related books from publishers (and continue to buy many others which come out). It would be good to have more reviews to post on the site, but again time limits the ability to do this in a timely fashion.
(5) Organizational: As an attempted solution to the 'limited time' problem, steps toward 501c-3 status for the Coalition are being taken. The goal is to being able to raise funds for the projects and (most important part) staff help to move the projects forward. (As described in a previous message, the ability to go forward as well as is needed is too limited presently without such help.) The process involves identification of a board, and discussion and then approval of by-laws.
(6) Law: W e are still awaiting resolution of the LW case, and then can take further steps toward legal education and outreach. There is tremendous interest in this area - and we're not yet adequately meeting the need for information at the moment, though the waiting for clarification is certainly understandable.
(7) Community Model: There have been conversations about extending the faith community-based/town model through the state's Human Relations committees, but next steps are still pending.
An organizational meeting
for the new statewide parents'
action campaign to
end childhood bullying was held on June 7th, 2005 at NJ Law Center in New Brunswick. A small group of parents
of bullied children
and those concerned about it participated in discussion and planning for the campaign. At the moment, 28 parents from across the state are participating, and the number should grow quickly, as follow-up meetings, events and activities are announced. At the moment, anyone interested in participating should contact us (by calling the Coalition at (908) 522-2581, by contacting Sh'corah Yehudah, of SPAN, at (973) 642-8100, ext. 113 or at email@example.com, or
by email to Stuart
Green, or fill out and email the
form on the How
to Participate page). Parent-to-parent contacts will be announced soon. Parents who contact Coalition organizations will be offered campaign information and an opportunity to participate, if desired. Lisa Toomey, founder of a parents campaign
in Connecticut, was an inspirational and informative speaker at the June 7th meeting, and will provide continuing consultation to the campaign. Coalition experts who attended and provided support for the meeting included Elizabeth Athos, of Education Law Center; Michael Greene, of Youth Consultation Service; Phil Brown, of NJ Center for Character Education; Leisa-Anne Smith, of NJ State Bar Foundation; Sh'Corah Yehudah, of Statewide Parents Advocacy Network; Stephanie Kramer, of ARC; and Stuart Green, Coalition director. Expect more news shortly!
Here is an update of Coalition activity and status as of 4/29/05:
Coalition Update 4-29-05
The next full Coalition meeting will be in late August (date to be set); for information on attending and on Coalition participation, call 908 522-2581 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project group meetings may be held beforehand and/or on the day of the August meeting. For project group information, see the Update (above).
The link below was posted just before the 3/29 meeting and contains updates reviewed prior to the meeting:
The next meeting of the Coalition
will be held on 3/29 at 12:30pm at the
Law Center in New Brunswick.
to attend should e-mail Stuart Green
or call at (908) 522-2581.
The following developments since 11/04:
held at NJ Law Center.
Status of LW case appeal
held a meeting at NJ Law Center on 8/17/04,
important resource has recently become
NJ network of organizations ...
Town models are beginning to
move forward and attract interest...
possibility of an effective statewide parents' action ...
3/30/04, at NJ Law Center, the first meeting
was held of a
new state 'network' ...
faith community groups are becoming involved ...
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