Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Ohio v. Clark (No.13-1352): Duty of teachers to report suspected abuse

9 Mar

Most people do not want people, especially children, abused. One means of early intervention is mandatory reporting of suspected abuse by certain groups like teachers or medical personnel. Accessing Safety lists the pros and cons of mandatory reporting:

Pros
Supporters of mandatory reporting believe that mandatory reporting can enhance victim/survivor safety by:
• linking people with services that will provide information and referrals to improve their living situations,
• getting victim/survivors away from abusers and perpetrators;
• reporting violence, abuse, and sexual assault to increase the number of cases reaching authorities and being documented, thereby increasing an understanding of the prevalence of such violence and its incidence; and
• offering an opportunity to provide training on issues of violence to professionals and persons who are mandatory reporters.
Cons
Some feel that mandatory reporting may create more harm than good. They believe that risks and consequences of mandatory reporting can include:
• retaliation by abuser/perpetrator/stalker,
• broken trust and confidentiality,
• damage to an individuals’ right to self-determination, an issue that is of particular concern when working with people with disabilities, and
• damaging the relationship between the victim/survivor and service provider, and, ultimately, leading to victims/survivors not seeking help or not returning to services…. http://www.accessingsafety.org/index.php?page=137

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Ohio v. Clark (No.13-1352).

Mark Walsh reported in the Education Week article, Supreme Court to Hear Case on Abuse Reporting: Mandatory-Reporting Laws Complicate Teachers’ Role:

The U.S. Supreme Court next week takes up a case involving an important but uneasy duty of teachers: reporting suspected abuse or neglect of their students to the appropriate authorities.
The criminal appeal of an Ohio man asks whether teachers’ obligation as “mandatory reporters” of suspected child abuse—something required of them, along with various other professionals, in all 50 states—makes them adjuncts of law enforcement when it comes to prosecuting such cases.
The case of Ohio v. Clark (No.13-1352) also examines whether a child’s statements to a teacher about abuse trigger the Sixth Amendment right of the accused “to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” That typically means such witnesses must testify in open court, where the defendant’s lawyers may cross-examine them.

Darius Clark, a 27-year-old Cleveland man, argues that his rights under the “confrontation clause” were violated when he was convicted of felony assault and endangering children based in significant part on the trial testimony of two Head Start teachers. They recounted information from a child alleging physical abuse by Mr. Clark, who was the boyfriend of the child’s mother.
The 3-year-old boy, identified as L.P., was considered by authorities to be too young and unreliable a witness to testify in court, a common situation in child-abuse cases.

“This case could have implications anywhere there are mandatory-reporting laws, which is everywhere,” said Jason Walta, a senior attorney in the general counsel’s office of the National Education Association. The NEA has filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief with the American Federation of Teachers and the National School Boards Association on the side of the state.
Eric E. Murphy, the state solicitor of Ohio, will argue before the justices on March 2 that a mandatory duty to report suspected child abuse does not, as Ohio’s highest court held, turn teachers into agents of the police.

“The teachers in this case were acting more in a teacher-care capacity, not as the police,” he said in an interview….

Reporting Abuse and Neglect: One State’s Guidelines

A case in the U.S. Supreme Court involves a teacher’s duty to report suspected child abuse and neglect. A booklet from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services serves as a reference for educators on the legal definitions and indicators of abuse and neglect, as well as reporting procedures. Both sides of the Supreme Court case point to one or more of the procedures as bolstering their case.

Among Ohio’s reporting procedures:
• Any school employee who has reason to believe that a child is being, or has been, abused or neglected shall immediately make an oral report of that suspicion to the local public children’s services agency. The report should include, among other information, the following:
– The identity of the caretaker or guardian of the alleged child victim.
– When and where the alleged abuse or neglect occurred, the type, extent, and duration of the alleged abuse or neglect, and the child’s current condition.
– The identity and current whereabouts of the alleged perpetrator, the relationship of the alleged perpetrator to the child victim, and the access he may have to the child. (Note: This is a key phrase pointed to by the criminal defendant to suggest teachers are serving as agents of law enforcement.)
• Immediately after making the report, the school employee shall notify the school principal that a report has been made.
• The oral report shall be followed up with a written report within five working days. That report could include additional helpful information from school records, such as the name of the family physician or other reports the school has made regarding the child.
• The booklet says that “since it is the responsibility of the [children’s service agency] to investigate alleged child abuse and neglect, school personnel shall not pressure the child to divulge information regarding specific circumstances or the identity of the alleged perpetrator.” (Note: This is a key phrase pointed to by the state to say that teachers are not being asked to serve as agents of law enforcement.)
Source: Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Education Week. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/02/25/supreme-court-to-hear-case-on-abuse.html#

Here is the summary of the case http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/ohio-v-clark/

Joan Meier, Professor of Clinical Law, George Washington University Law School wrote in Ohio v. Clark: Do Children’s Statements Have to Be Live Testimony:

Ohio v. Clark thus is the first case both to address children’s statements, and statements made to non-government personnel. First, because the primary purpose test requires an “objective” analysis of whether the circumstances indicated that the statements were made for “testimonial” reasons, or to seek help in an “ongoing emergency,” children’s statements are necessarily a different kettle of fish from adults’ statements. Many courts have wrestled with whether the intent of the speaker, the listener, or both must be factored into the analysis. But unlike with adults, we cannot infer children’s awareness or intent to report to law enforcement, so the objective determination of “purpose” must be made without that input…. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joan-meier/ohio-v-clark-do-childrens_b_6057662.html
Education groups filed amicus briefs arguing the Ohio Supreme Court decision should be overturned.
The National School Boards Association reported in Legal Clips:
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) have joined the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in an amicus brief in Clark v. Ohio, No. 13-1352, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the Ohio Supreme Court’s holding:
(1) that teachers are acting as agents of law enforcement when questioning a minor student regarding suspected child abuse pursuant to Ohio’s mandatory reporting law for purposes of the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause; and
(2) that out-of-court statements to a teacher in response to the teacher’s concern about potential child abuse qualify as “testimonial” statements subject to the Confrontation Clause….
First, it argues that the Ohio Supreme Court adopted an expansive reading of the Confrontation Clause that would deputize millions of school employees (including teachers, counselors, and administrators), doctors, social workers, and even ordinary citizens as agents of law enforcement, and would render the U.S. Supreme Court’s well-established “primary purpose,” test largely meaningless. –
Second, amici contend that mandatory reporting statutes do not deputize teachers as agents of law enforcement. The brief states: “The argument that statements to mandatory reporters of child abuse are testimonial under the Confrontation Clause has been raised in a number of cases, and both federal and state courts have consistently rejected it….”
Third, the brief argues: “Even if school personnel were treated as agents of law enforcement (or if the Court were to broaden the audience to whom testimonial statements can be made), within the unique context of school settings it is clear that in virtually all situations, their inquiries into a child’s injuries are non-testimonial because those inquiries are made for the primary purpose of protecting children and not primarily to advance a future prosecution….” Fourth, amici assert that by deeming teachers and other school personnel as law enforcement when engaged in their mandatory reporter duties could also have far-reaching consequences that would undermine the welfare of students and the educational process.
Finally, the brief contends “even assuming that statements made to teachers or school personnel could be testimonial in some circumstances this case can be resolved on narrow grounds because the statements at issue here were non-testimonial for at least three additional reasons….” http://legalclips.nsba.org/2014/11/25/sua-sponte-nsba-and-osba-join-nea-and-aft-in-amicus-brief-urging-u-s-supreme-court-to-reverse-ohio-supreme-courts-holding-that-teachers-are-agents-of-law-enforcement-for-purposes-of-the-sixth-amen/#sthash.vZz5Zfg4.dpuf

The Supreme Court could uphold the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision or decide the case more narrowly.

Resources:

Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/laws-policies/statutes/manda/?hasBeenRedirected=1

Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect 2013 Introduced State Legislation http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/redirect-mandatory-rprtg-of-child-abuse-and-neglect-2013.aspx

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Faculty free speech: Demers v. Austin

13 Feb

The U.S. Constitution should be cherished by every American. Here is information about the First Amendment from the Legal Information Institute:

first amendment: an overview
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. See U.S. Const. amend. I. Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief. The Supreme Court interprets the extent of the protection afforded to these rights. The First Amendment has been interpreted by the Court as applying to the entire federal government even though it is only expressly applicable to Congress. Furthermore, the Court has interpreted, the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as protecting the rights in the First Amendment from interference by state governments. See U.S. Const. amend. XIV.
Two clauses in the First Amendment guarantee freedom of religion. The establishment clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the “separation of church and state.” Some governmental activity related to religion has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. For example, providing bus transportation for parochial school students and the enforcement of “blue laws” is not prohibited. The free exercise clause prohibits the government, in most instances, from interfering with a person’s practice of their religion.
The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech. The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. The Supreme Court requires the government to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech where it attempts to regulate the content of the speech. A less stringent test is applied for content-neutral legislation. The Supreme Court has also recognized that the government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence. For more on unprotected and less protected categories of speech see advocacy of illegal action, fighting words, commercial speech and obscenity. The right to free speech includes other mediums of expression that communicate a message. The level of protection speech receives also depends on the forum in which it takes place.
Despite popular misunderstanding the right to freedom of the press guaranteed by the first amendment is not very different from the right to freedom of speech. It allows an individual to express themselves through publication and dissemination. It is part of the constitutional protection of freedom of expression. It does not afford members of the media any special rights or privileges not afforded to citizens in general.
The right to assemble allows people to gather for peaceful and lawful purposes. Implicit within this right is the right to association and belief. The Supreme Court has expressly recognized that a right to freedom of association and belief is implicit in the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. This implicit right is limited to the right to associate for First Amendment purposes. It does not include a right of social association. The government may prohibit people from knowingly associating in groups that engage and promote illegal activities. The right to associate also prohibits the government from requiring a group to register or disclose its members or from denying government benefits on the basis of an individual’s current or past membership in a particular group. There are exceptions to this rule where the Court finds that governmental interests in disclosure/registration outweigh interference with first amendment rights. The government may also, generally, not compel individuals to express themselves, hold certain beliefs, or belong to particular associations or groups.
The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances guarantees people the right to ask the government to provide relief for a wrong through the courts (litigation) or other governmental action. It works with the right of assembly by allowing people to join together and seek change from the government. http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment

Peter Bonilla explains why free speech rights on college campuses are important in a PolicyMic article. http://www.policymic.com/articles/3454/free-speech-on-college-campuses-a-must-especially-during-election-seasons/
See, Censorship of Free Speech on College Campuses Grows http://www.educationnews.org/higher-education/censorship-of-free-speech-on-college-campuses-grows/ https://drwilda.com/tag/free-speech-on-college-campuses-a-must-especially-during-election-seasons
For a good summary of faculty free speech rights, THE FREE SPEECH AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM OF FACULTY AT PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/content/docs/issues/school/Faculty-Free-Speech-and-Academic-Freedom-3.22.13.pdf

Scott Jaschik reported in the Inside Higher Ed article, Protecting Academic Freedom:

A federal appeals court has given a strong endorsement to the idea that faculty speech rights at public colleges and universities were not constrained by a 2006 Supreme Court ruling that limited the rights of some public employees.
The 2006 ruling, Garcetti v. Ceballos, concerned the Los Angeles district attorney’s office. Despite that, some courts have been applying the ruling to faculty disputes at public universities — while others have not. The new ruling – by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit – comes in a three-judge panel’s revised opinion on the case of David Demers, a tenured professor at Washington State University who says he was retaliated against with negative performance reviews for writings that criticized the administration.
The appeals court did not rule on the merits of the case, and as it did in its first look at the Demers suit, it said that his free speech wasn’t limited by the Garcetti ruling. But the language in the new ruling was quite strong – the kind of language many faculty advocates have been looking for.
The appeals court acknowledged that Garcetti set limits for public employees, but said there was no question that those limits should not apply in higher education.
“Garcetti left open the possibility of an exception,” the appeals court said. “In response to a concern expressed by Justice Souter in dissent, the court reserved the question whether its holding applied to ‘speech related to scholarship or teaching.’ Justice Souter had expressed concern about the potential breadth of the court’s rationale, writing, ‘I have to hope that today’s majority does not mean to imperil First Amendment protection of academic freedom in public colleges and universities.’ ”
The appeals court added that “Demers presents the kind of case that worried Justice Souter. Under Garcetti, statements made by public employees ‘pursuant to their official duties’ are not protected by the First Amendment. But teaching and academic writing are at the core of official duties of teachers and professors. Such teaching and writing are a special concern of the First Amendment. We conclude that if applied to teaching and academic writing, Garcetti would directly conflict with the important First Amendment values previously articulated by the Supreme Court.”
Further the court noted that the First Amendment, as interpreted in other Supreme Court decisions, applies to faculty speech that may not be strictly scholarship or teaching, but may relate to discussions of college policy. “[P]rotected academic writing is not confined to scholarship,” the appeals court said. “Much academic writing is, of course, scholarship. But academics, in the course of their academic duties, also write memoranda, reports, and other documents addressed to such things as a budget, curriculum, departmental structure and faculty hiring.”
Robert O’Neil, former president of and professor of law at the University of Virginia, and an expert on faculty free speech issues, said via email that the latest decision from the appeals court added to the view he shares that Garcetti should not be applied to higher education. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/02/13/court-ruling-takes-stand-faculty-free-speech#ixzz2tF8YHMWY

Here is the case summary by Breanna Thompson of Willamette College of law:

Demers v. Austin
Summarized by: Breanna Thompson
Date Filed: 09-04-2013
Case #: 11-35558
Circuit Judge Fletcher for the Court; Circuit Judge Fisher and Senior District Judge Quist
Full Text Opinion: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2013/09/04/11-35558.pdf
Civil Rights § 1983: Garcetti does not apply to teaching and academic writing. Instead, the Pickering test should be applied which requires the employee to show that his or her speech addressed matters of public concern and that interest in voicing those concerns outweigh the State’s interest in promoting efficient public services.
David Demers was a tenured associate professor at Washington State University. He brought suit alleging that after distributing a short pamphlet and drafts of an in-progress book, the university retaliated against him in violation of the First Amendment. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants by applying Garcetti v. Ceballos, and found that the drafts were distributed pursuant to Demers’s employment duties and therefore not protected under the First Amendment. Demers contended that the retaliation consisted of negative annual performance reviews with false information, conducting two internal affair audits, serving formal notice of discipline, preventing him from serving on committees. Demers argued that writing and distributing of the Plan was not done as an official duty, and even if it was, Garcetti does not extend to activity by a public teacher. The Ninth Circuit disagreed with the first argument, but agreed that Garcetti does not apply to this case. Garcetti held that “when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline.” If this holding applied to academic writing, then it would directly conflict with First Amendment values which include academic freedom. Instead, teaching and academic writing is governed by Pickering v. Board of Education, requiring the employee to show that his or her speech addressed matters of public concern and that interest in voicing those concerns outweighed the State’s interest in promoting efficient public services. The panel concluded that the pamphlet did address a matter of public concern under Pickering, but that there was insufficient evidence to prove retaliation. Additionally, defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because of the uncertainty of Garcetti. AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part, and REMANDED. http://www.willamette.edu/wucl/resources/journals/wlo/9thcir/2013/09/demers-v.-austin.html

Ben Franklin states it best:

AUTHOR:
Benjamin Franklin (1706–90)

QUOTATION:
“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Resources:

Center for Campus Free Speech
http://www.campusspeech.org/

Free Speech Off Campus Must Be Protected
http://chronicle.com/article/Free-Speech-Off-Campus-Must-Be/130660/

Column: Free speech sacks ban on college-athlete tweets
http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-04-15/twitter-social-media-college-sports-coaches-ban/54301178/1

Student Press Law Center
http://www.splc.org/wordpress/?cat=26

Free Speech, Social Media and Community Colleges: Let the Clash Begin
http://www.communitycollegereview.com/articles/401

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U.S. Supreme Court declines to accept school bullying case, Morrow v. The Blackhawk School District

16 Dec

Moi wrote about bullying in School bullying: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency report:
The Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency has issued the report, Bullying in Schools: An Overview by Ken Seeley, Martin L. Tombari, Laurie J. Bennett, and Jason B. Dunkle. Among the study’s findings are:

o Bullying is a complex social and emotional phenomenon that plays out differently on an individual level.
o Bullying does not directly cause truancy.
o School engagement protects victims from truancy and low academic achievement.
o When schools provide a safe learning environment in which adults model positive behavior, they can mitigate the negative effects of bullying.
o Any interventions to address bullying or victimization should be intentional, student-focused engagement strategies that fit the context of the school where they are used.
The report makes the following recommendations:
o Increase student engagement.
o Model caring behavior for students.
o Offer mentoring programs.
o Provide students with opportunities for service learning as a means of improving school engagement.
o Address the difficult transition between elementary and middle school (from a single classroom teacher to teams of teachers with periods and class changes in a large school) (Lohaus et al., 2004).
o Start prevention programs early.
o Resist the temptation to use prefabricated curriculums that are not aligned to local conditions.
Increase Student Engagement
Bullied children who remain engaged in school attend class more frequently and achieve more. Challenging academics, extracurricular activities, understanding teachers and coaches, and a focus on the future help keep victimized children engaged in their education (Bausell, 2011). Schools, administrations, and districts that wish to stave off the negative effects of bullying must redouble their efforts to engage each student in school. Typical school engagement strategies include (Karcher, 2005):
• Providing a caring adult for every student through an advisory program or similar arrangement.
o Carefully monitoring attendance, calling home each time a student is absent, and allowing students the ability to make up missed work with support from a teacher.
o Adopting and implementing the National School Climate Standardsfrom the National School Climate Council (2010).
o Promoting and fostering parent and community engagement, including afterschool and summer programs.
o Providing school-based mentorship options for students.http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/234205.pdf
https://drwilda.com/2011/12/20/school-bullying-office-of-juvenile-justice-and-delinquency-report/

See, School Bullying Report Makes Recommendations To Address Issue, Support Victims http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/17/school-bullying-report-ma_n_1155250.html?ref=email_share

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the case of Morrow v. The Blackhawk School District.

Mark Walsh reported in the Education Week article, Supreme Court Declines to Take Up School Bullying Case:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal seeking to hold a Pennsylvania school district responsible for repeated bullying of a high school student by one of her peers.
A federal appeals court had taken note of school shooting tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., as symbols of the new dangers in schools. But it nonetheless held that despite compulsory education laws, the Blackhawk school district in Pennsylvania did not have a “special relationship” with its students that would give rise to a duty to protect them from harm from other students….
The case involves Brittany Morrow, who in early 2008 at Blackhawk High School in Beaver County, Pa., began facing bullying from a schoolmate that included “racially motivated” threats and physical assaults, court papers say. In one incident, the perpetrator attacked Brittany in the lunchroom and because Brittany defended herself, she was suspended along with her attacker.
For that and other incidents, the perpetrator was charged in juvenile court with assault, making terroristic threats, and harassment. She was adjudicated delinquent and ordered to have no contact with Brittany. The perpetrator was nevertheless allowed to return to Blackhawk High. In the fall of 2008, she allegedly boarded Brittany’s school bus and threatened her, and later elbowed her in the face at a high school football game…
They lost before a federal district court and the full 3rd Circuit court.
The appeals court ruled 9-5 for the school defendants that there was no “special relationship” between schools and students and 10-4 that legal injuries to the victims were not the result of actions taken by administrators under a “state-created danger” theory of liability.
In their appeal to the Supreme Court in Morrow v. Balaski (Case No. 13-302), the family said school officials “acted to allow the aggressor to return to school following her temporary suspension and despite court orders mandating no contact. They opened the front door of the school to a person they knew would cause harm to the children.”
In a brief opposing high court review, the school district and the assistant principal argued that there was no conflict among the federal appeals courts about the special relationship theory of liability and that no school official acted affirmatively to increase the dangers to Morrow.
The justices declined without comment to take up the appeal.
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/school_law/2013/12/supreme_court_declines_to_take_1.html

Justia.com summarized the case:

Justia.com Opinion Summary: Brittany and Emily Morrow were subjected to threats and physical assaults by Anderson, a fellow student at Blackhawk High School. After Anderson physically attacked Brittany in the lunch room, the school suspended both girls. Brittany’s mother reported Anderson to the police at the recommendation of administration. Anderson was charged with simple assault, terroristic threats, and harassment. Anderson continued to bully Brittany and Emily. A state court placed Anderson on probation and ordered her to have no contact with Brittany. Five months later, Anderson was adjudicated delinquent and was again given a “no contact” order, which was provided to the school. Anderson subsequently boarded Brittany’s school bus and threatened Brittany, even though that bus did not service Anderson’s home. School officials told the Morrows that they could not guarantee their daughters’ safety and advised the Morrows to consider another school. The Morrows filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violation of their substantive due process rights. The district court dismissed, reasoning that the school did not have a “special relationship” with students that would create a constitutional duty to protect them from other students and that the Morrows’ injury was not the result of any affirmative action by the defendants, under the “state-created danger” doctrine. The Third Circuit affirmed.
The court issued a Revised version of this opinion on June 14, 2013
PDF Download PDF
http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca3/11-2000/11-2000-2013-06-05.pdf
http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca3/11-2000/11-2000-2013-06-05.html

The American Psychological Association (APA) has information about bullying.

The APA has the following suggestions for teachers and administrators:

Be knowledgeable and observant
Teachers and administrators need to be aware that although bullying generally happens in areas such as the bathroom, playground, crowded hallways, and school buses as well as via cell phones and computers (where supervision is limited or absent), it must be taken seriously. Teachers and administrators should emphasize that telling is not tattling. If a teacher observes bullying in a classroom, he/she needs to immediately intervene to stop it, record the incident and inform the appropriate school administrators so the incident can be investigated. Having a joint meeting with the bullied student and the student who is bullying is not recommended — it is embarrassing and very intimidating for the student that is being bullied.
Involve students and parents
Students and parents need to be a part of the solution and involved in safety teams and antibullying task forces. Students can inform adults about what is really going on and also teach adults about new technologies that kids are using to bully. Parents, teachers, and school administrators can help students engage in positive behavior and teach them skills so that they know how to intervene when bullying occurs. Older students can serve as mentors and inform younger students about safe practices on the Internet.
Set positive expectations about behavior for students and adults
Schools and classrooms must offer students a safe learning environment. Teachers and coaches need to explicitly remind students that bullying is not accepted in school and such behaviors will have consequences. Creating an anti-bullying document and having both the student and the parents/guardians sign and return it to the school office helps students understand the seriousness of bullying. Also, for students who have a hard time adjusting or finding friends, teachers and administrators can facilitate friendships or provide “jobs” for the student to do during lunch and recess so that children do not feel isolated or in danger of becoming targets for bullying. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/bullying.aspx

Stop Bullying.gov has some great advice about bullying.

According to the Stop Bullying.gov article, What You Can Do:

What to Do If You’re Bullied
There are things you can do if you are being bullied:
Look at the kid bullying you and tell him or her to stop in a calm, clear voice. You can also try to laugh it off. This works best if joking is easy for you. It could catch the kid bullying you off guard.
If speaking up seems too hard or not safe, walk away and stay away. Don’t fight back. Find an adult to stop the bullying on the spot.
There are things you can do to stay safe in the future, too.
Talk to an adult you trust. Don’t keep your feelings inside. Telling someone can help you feel less alone. They can help you make a plan to stop the bullying.
Stay away from places where bullying happens.
Stay near adults and other kids. Most bullying happens when adults aren’t around.
http://www.stopbullying.gov/kids/what-you-can-do

Even though children are encouraged to report bullying, they often don’t.

The Committee for Children explains Why Don’t Kids Report Bullying?

There is good evidence that young people often do not report bullying to adults. Children are adept at hiding bullying-related behaviors and the unequal “shadow” power dynamics that can exist among them. Because of this secrecy, adults underestimate the seriousness and extent of bullying at their schools.
Schools cannot help if children do not entrust them with information. So why don’t children report bullying?
Research Shows That Adults Rarely Intervene
There is a catch-22: Students don’t tell because they don’t see adults helping, but adults can’t help if students don’t tell them what is going on in their peer groups.
The perception that adults don’t act may lead students to conclude that adults don’t care, or that there are different standards for adults’ behavior than for young people’s. In the workplace, shoving co-workers in the hallway would not be tolerated. Yet many adults believe that young people need to “work out” bullying problems like these on their own. This belief may promote a “code of silence” about abusive behavior. A logical consequence would be the failure of students to report other dangers, such as knowledge about a weapon at school.
Students Fear Retaliation and a Reputation as a “Rat”
Fear of retailiation might be especially the case about reporting popular students who bully. There is evidence that well-liked and successful children can be the most skilled at bullying and at escaping detection.
They Don’t Want to Lose Power
Students may not report that they or their friends bully because they don’t want to lose the power they gain through controlling others.
They Don’t Recognize Subtle Bullying
Students may not report more subtle, indirect, and relational types of bullying (such as deliberately excluding peers or spreading rumors) because they don’t realize that these are also unfair, unequal ways to treat others.
They Feel Ashamed, Afraid, or Powerless
Students may not report being victims of bullying because it makes them feel ashamed, afraid, and powerless. Over time, they may come to feel they deserve to be bullied. This may be particularly true of children in fourth grade and up.
Because adults rarely intervene, young people may come to believe they can bully without any consequences. Many believe that “acting bad” pays off. In fact, it may win them status with others, as children do act more friendly and respectful toward those who bully.
What Can Adults Do?
If we want children to talk to us and ask for help, we need to invite them to report. And effective adult follow-through is critical. This means “walking the talk” of bullying prevention, and addressing the power imbalances that put children who bully, those who are bullied, and bystanders at risk of perpetuating abuse. Bringing children who bully and those they bully into the same room to talk is not advisable. Intervening, making plans for behavior change, and continuing to check in on an individual basis with the students involved is best.
Adults can also give young people tools to help them evaluate when and how to report. Teaching about the distinction between reporting (telling to keep someone safe) and tattling (telling to get someone in trouble), for example, can help students make responsible decisions. This, in turn, can empower everyone in schools to help prevent inequity and suffering. http://www.cfchildren.org/advocacy/bullying-prevention/why-kids-dont-report-bullying.aspx

The Tanenbaum Center which honors the work of the late Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum has a really good definition of the “Golden Rule” https://www.tanenbaum.org/resources/golden-rule which is stated in an interview with Joyce Dubensky entitled, The Golden Rule Around the World At the core of all bullying is a failure to recognize another’s humanity and a basic lack of respect for life. At the core of the demand for personal expression and failure to tolerate opinions which are not like one’s own is a self-centeredness which can destroy the very society it claims to want to protect.

Resources:

Helping Kids Deal With Bullies http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/bullies.html

Teachers Who Bully http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/teachers-who-bully

Is Your Child Being Bullied? 9 Steps You Can Take as a Parent http://www.empoweringparents.com/Is-Your-Child-Being-Bullied.php#ixzz2PqGTZNdl

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