Bullying Prevention

***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***

Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.

When I was a school bus driver, I learned that when the kids were amped up or treating someone mean it was more effective to pull the bus over and park.

When the kids finally noticed we were no longer moving and wondered why—I would tell them what was going on, who was involved and that I’d wait until they were able to settle down or stop bullying (whatever the situation was).

I’d unfasten my seat belt, turn around and look at several dozen sets of eyes looking at me. #PeerPressure

After a minute or so, I’d let them know I’d continue if the behavior didn’t and that every time the shenanigans happened, I would park the bus. They tested me. And I followed through. We settled in, they behaved and got home on time while I was able to drive safely.

BLOG POST #135: For the last Saturday post in National Bullying Prevention Month, I’m sharing research on Restorative Justice.

Per the U.S. Department of Education: States and districts are increasingly in support of policies and practices that shift school discipline away from zero tolerance, such as suspension and expulsion, to discipline that is focused on teaching and engagement.

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice is shifting how discipline is handled from punitive to repairing the harm that has been done.

This philosophy isn’t new. It stems from centuries of peacemaking systems in indigenous cultures.

Students develop empathy for their peers, build trust and understanding.

What A Wonderful World It Could Be

When done correctly, Restorative Justice can change the school culture; students can be more respectful, responsible and engaged. Changing old and outdated processes requires commitment and effort. Staff, parents, students, and the community must be in agreement, or the shift may never get off the starting block.

Here’s an example:

A female high school student leaves her cell phone out during class. A male friend uses the phone and sends out some rude texts to people; one was the girl’s parent. The girl was in trouble at home and tried to explain it was the boy.

The girl submitted her friend’s cell phone prank to the school’s Justice Committee, made up of students, for consideration to mediate. The committee sits in a circle and includes the two who have a dispute (sitting across from each other). The committee has rules, pre-determined questions and only one person speaks at a time.

The girl told the group how much trouble she got into because of the prank. The boy was asked what he thought would happen when he texted hurtful comments on her phone, how did he feel about what’s happened since, etc. He admitted he felt like ‘crap’ after he learned the girl had gotten into trouble. He thought his prank would be funny. And he understood that he’d gone too far with the prank.

The committee determined the boy needed to make amends for his actions and apologize to the girl’s parent. They also decided the girl needed to accept responsibility for having violated a school rule when she had her phone accessible during class time.

Total Commitment Required

Once students understand the new process and what will happen when they act out, behaviors change. An outcome similarly to what I experienced as a bus driver.

To be successful with Restorative Justice, it must be implemented and run correctly. All parties (staff, parent, students, and the community) need to have clear objectives, consistent protocols, and the student committee must remain non-judgmental.

More information on Restorative Justice is available on the U.S. Department of Education website.

What do you think about Restorative Justice? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.

Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.

Thanks for reading!

-Robin

Link to AmazonMAC: A Prequel Novella

Find out what Cole ‘Mac’ MacKenna  is up to in

UNKNOWN THREAT and MAC

Both Available at Amazon

Sixth-Grade Girls Tormented This Classmate

***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***

Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.

As I research crimes occurring at or connected to schools I’ve seen more and more events involving pre-teens.

It saddens me to read about the negative side of public education, but at the same time, I believe it’s vital for everyone who cares about children to be armed with knowledge.

Times are changing. Because schools can no longer be considered safe havens, parents need to be advocates for their children. Schools can’t do everything that is needed; they’re simply underfunded, understaffed and overworked.

BLOG POST #134: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific criminal case involving sixth-grade girls.

Senseless Cruelty

She had everything going for her and everything that makes kids jealous. It was said this 12-year-old was sweet, smart, kind and quiet. And she was a cheerleader.

The bullying began in October—teasing, dirty looks from classmates, name-calling, exclusion and shooing her away from their lunch table.

Then the cyber-bullying began. There were texts, Snapchats, and Instagram posts. They told her she was a loser, said she had no friends.

Her grades began to drop. She suffered from chronic headaches and stomach pain. She begged to stay home from school.

The American Academy of Pediatrics stated in a report on bullying: girls make more suicide attempts, but boys die from suicide at a rate three times higher than girls because they tend to choose more lethal methods, such as firearms.

Make The Bullying Stop

Requests for assistance from teachers, counselors, school administrators and the students’ parents didn’t make the torment stop.

Bullying has always been a major issue for adolescents, but there is now greater recognition of the connection between bullying and suicide,” said Benjamin Shain, MD, Ph.D. in an American Academy of Pediatrics report.

Gone Girl

The ugliness ended the next year in June. After the bullies told her, “Why don’t you kill yourself?” She killed herself.

Did you know in 2007, suicide was the third-leading cause of death for adolescents age 15 to 19 years old? In 2016, suicide rose to the second-leading cause of death.

There is a lot of helpful information available on the StopBullying.gov website.

Worth Mentioning: The young girl’s parents have filed a lawsuit against the school district and its administrators for alleged gross negligence for not responding to their pleas to make the bullying stop.

Here’s my ‘Take Away’ on this case: Bullying is hard to stop without parent cooperation on both sides. Too often a child who bullies learned how at home. And schools are caught in the middle. Parents want the school to intervene but do they have the authority to act on behavior that occurred off campus and not during school hours. The evidence is critical; parents need to have their kids take screenshots of bullying messages and save bullying emails. If the school is unable to remedy the situation—law enforcement will want evidence.

What do you think about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.

Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.

Thanks for reading and caring about children!

-Robin

MAC: A Prequel NovellaLink to Amazon

Find out what Cole ‘Mac’ MacKenna  is up to in

UNKNOWN THREAT and MAC

Both Available at Amazon

Cyber Bullying Pushed This Teen To Suicide

Hashtags (#) are powerful. You don’t need to use social media to understand what a hashtag is. They’re used on most social media platforms to draw attention to an event (#FootballGame), a product (#Cola), or a person (#TeacherOfTheYear).

Children understand hashtags very well. One component of cyber bullying is to use social media and associate someone’s name with cruel hashtags: #filtywhore #stupid #liar #skank #dumbslut.

Cyber bullying is devastating and destructive. And too often a child is embarrassed to tell their parent what’s going on.

BLOG POST #133: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific criminal case involving three high school boys and one high school girl.

Party Time

It was a holiday weekend, no school on Monday and her best friend’s parents were going to be out of town. One girl told her parents she’d be staying at the other’s home and vice versus.

The girl whose parents were out of town invited a dozen friends to party at her house, where the alcohol was accessible.

After sipping vodka mixed with Gatorade, the victim became super drunk and went to a bedroom to sleep. Three boys accompanied her. The boys removed her clothes while she was passed out, and then used markers to write and draw on her partially naked body.

Heartless Boys

They then digitally violated her and took photographs.

When she awoke the next morning, she had no memory of how or when she had arrived in the bedroom or anything else.

The victim asked her mother to pick her up. Her mother recalls she was quiet and locked herself in her bedroom.

She was frantic to learn what had happened to her so she contacted several kids who had been at the party. She learned there were photos and many kids at her school had seen them.

Poor Self Image

The victim, like so many teenage girls, had an issue with her body image. Does this sound familiar? She wouldn’t eat in public; she wouldn’t eat breakfast, and she ate very little lunch.

No Way Out

She was so tormented by the thought of nude photos circulating she hung herself in the bathroom at her home and did not survive.

As you read this post, you might have wondered if the school she attended served troubled teens or if she and her friends were from struggling households. You’d be wrong. Her high school catered to the affluent in the heart of Silicon Valley.

At first, her mother didn’t understand what had pushed her daughter to take her life. Her daughter’s friends began to talk to her.

The Truth

The boys were identified. Lucky for them, their cases remained in juvenile court. Sharing child pornography on the internet can result in prison time for adults.

The judge sentenced one teen to 45 days in juvenile hall; the other two received 30 days. To be served on weekends so as not to miss school.

And they were required to make public statements of regret and remorse for their actions.

Within a stipulated two year period, each boy was also required to give ten presentations at any high school. The presentations were to include: Sexting, Dissemination of Nude Photographs, Soliciting Nude Photographs, Slut Shaming, Spreading Rumors, Dangers of Alcohol and Drugs.

Something Good

The victim’s parents continue to fight to change laws in hopes what happened to their daughter doesn’t happen to any other family.

Worth Mentioning: A documentary was made about this case and a similar case with a different outcome. The film was one of the official selections for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and is a Netflix Original. Here’s the trailer: Audrie and Daisy

My take away: I’ve never had a loved one commit suicide, so I can’t image the pain this would cause a family. I have raised two children and from my experience, always, always confirm with the friend’s parents that the plan is what your child has told you it is.

My sincere condolences go out to all who have lost a loved one to suicide.

What do you think about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.

Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.

Thanks for reading!

-Robin

Link to AmazonMAC: A Prequel Novella

Find out what Cole ‘Mac’ MacKenna  is up to in

UNKNOWN THREAT and MAC

Both Available at Amazon

3 Men Guilty Of School Hate Crime

***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***

Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.

 

Robin Lyons' Blog Post #132Bullying and racism need to stop. In my opinion, adults teach children to bully and be prejudice. We can’t change the past, but we can control the future. October is National Bullying Prevention Month; I’ll be sharing research on bullying cases each week in October.

Children can be relentlessly mean. Sadly, bullying happens to adults as well. Whether you’re a child or an adult, when you’re on the receiving end of bullying it’s hard to think logically about the fact that bullies bully because they have issues. Bullying and racism wounds cut deep. You may not see the damage, but it’s there.

BLOG POST #132: This week, I’m sharing research on three specific and connected criminal cases involving three men.

More Than A Prank

It was 2007. The community was engaged in a racially charged debate over busing a substantial number of black students, ages approximately 11-14 years, to a different junior high school to have a more diverse study body at the school.

One evening while next door to the school, three men, ages 21, 25, and 30, complained about the busing program. They believed the program was ruining the community and lowering the standards of the school.

They devised a plan to hang a dead raccoon, that one man happened to have in his truck, from the school’s flagpole to “scare the little [ethnic slur], kids.”

Targeting Innocent Children

The man who tied the knot chose to tie a noose because of the historical significance of a noose used for lynching black people. The two co-conspirators agree.

The men were also aware of the significance of a raccoon as a derogatory reference to blacks.

Before the staff could remove the vulgar display from in front of the school, one teacher estimated as many as 40 students saw the raccoon hanging by a noose.

After the incident, the sheriff’s office provided 24-hour security at the school until the school could install security cameras.

Hate Is Not A Defense

The three men were identified and arrested. All three pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime—intentionally attempting to intimidate and interfere with African-American students who were attending the junior high school.

The 25-year-old man was sentenced to eight months in prison. The 30-year-old man was sentenced to six months in prison. And the 21-year-old man to five months in prison. All three also received one year of supervised release that included a course on cultural diversity and sensitivity.

Racially-motivated intimidation and violence is contrary to the American ideal of freedom, and it is particularly deplorable when it targets children,” said the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

Here’s my ‘Take Away’ on this case: This case is ten years old, but I think those who are prejudice have the same twisted mindset today. I don’t get it, so I find myself tongue-tied on the subject. What I can say is this mentality makes me sick.

What do you think about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.

Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.

Thanks for reading!

-Robin

Link to Amazon

MAC: A Prequel NovellaFind out what Cole ‘Mac’ MacKenna  is up to in

UNKNOWN THREAT and MAC

Both Available at Amazon

Attack In The High School Girls’ Restroom

***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***

Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.

Robin Lyons' Blog Post #118Social media, electronic devices, and constant contact have become a necessity to many. To those who aren’t addicted or dependent on social media and their electronic devices, the allure is baffling.

In the recent news, a 17-year-old girl was on trial and found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide—all through texting.

The amazing, lightning-speed internet can be a blessing and a curse. Parents should regularly monitor what their children are doing and saying on the internet.

BLOG POST #118: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific criminal case involving four high school girls.

Everyone Watched—Nobody Helped

Three teenage girls left the high school cafeteria in search of another who presumably had posted something on social media that angered the girls on the hunt.

The three girls found who they were looking for in a school restroom. One of the angry teens posted a photo on social media and wrote “bouta fight her,” followed by several emojis indicating the person was laughing so hard she was crying.

The victim was punched numerous times by one assailant and kicked by another. The third attempted to pull the primary aggressor away from the victim.

Electronic Evidence

Dozens of girls watched the fight, and at least two recorded parts of it with their cell phones.

It seems cruel for anyone to have recorded the fight. Turned out to be a good thing, the recordings were used as evidence in the case. Plausible deniability goes out the window when there’s a video of the crime.

However, it is disheartening that nobody tried to stop the fight or help the victim.

When A Fight Turned Deadly

Unbeknownst to the three aggressors, the victim had a pre-existing heart condition. Her heart couldn’t handle the level of stress associated with her attack, and she did not survive.

The Medical Examiner determined that she died from a cardiac incident that she was vulnerable to because of a pre-existing heart condition, but the cardiac incident would not have occurred if she had not been assaulted.

Consequence Of The Unlawful Act

The primary aggressor was charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide and Conspiracy 3rd Degree in the death of the classmate. The two other girls were charged with Conspiracy 3rd Degree. All cases remained in juvenile court.

For there to be Criminally Negligent Homicide, the death must be the natural and probable consequence of the unlawful act and not the result of intervening causes.

The defense argued a reasonable person of the Respondent’s age and experience would not expect injury much less death to result from a fight. The judge disagreed and found her guilty on both counts.

The judge found one of the other two girls guilty of Conspiracy 3rd Degree.

The judge said, “While it may be true that [the victim], due to her condition would have died from a multitude of stressors, until such an event occurred, if at all, she had a right to live one more day, one more week, one more month or year, until her time, without a contributing cause of another.”

The judge also said this was not a fight between two teenagers squaring off to settle some mutual grievance, but rather, an act of violence initiated and carried out by the Respondent over a perceived slight on social media.

The judge sentenced the primary aggressor to six months in a secure residential program for female youths. She was banned from social media, community supervision until she’s 19, and ordered to perform 500 hours of community service with an emphasis on serving young people who have been abused or bullied.

The girl who kicked the victim was sentenced to 18 months of community supervision and 300 hours of community service.

My heart goes out to all families who have suffered because of a school crime. And my sincere condolences go to those who have lost a loved one.

What do you think about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.

Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.

Thanks for reading!

-Robin

Link to AmazonMAC: A Prequel NovellaFind out what Cole ‘Mac’ MacKenna  is up to in

UNKNOWN THREAT and MAC

Both Available at Amazon