Kudos to the American Bar Association (ABA) for amending and adopting their resolution 107A which urges “… federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local officials, to prevent and remediate the existence and dangers of bullying, including cyberbullying and youth-to-youth sexual and physical harassment.” In my view this is very much a step in the right direction, and am heartened at the inclusion and emphasis on the preventative measures. As I have previously stated, if we can get ahead of the curve in educating our youth with respect to civil and respectful interaction and behaviors, we will not only be improving the student’s scholastic capabilities, we will be improving our society in general. A recent article in Education Week noted how the investment in social skills boosted academics in students who were availed such training, ( “Study Finds Social-Skills Teaching Boosts Academics”), “Compared with their peers, participating students also significantly improved on five key nonacademic measures: They demonstrated greater social skills, less emotional distress and better attitudes, fewer conduct problems such as bullying and suspensions, and more-frequent positive behaviors, such as cooperation and help for other students. Also, the effects continued at least six months after the programs ended.” The article goes on to specifically calling out the program offered by Social Smarts as an effective program which improves “those soft skills likely caused the rise in academic achievement, in part because educators could teach more efficiently with calmer, more cooperative students.”
The resolution has received high marks from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the organization’s Civil Rights Director, Deborah M. Lauter noted in an ADL press release: “We are delighted that the American Bar Association approved a broad and inclusive resolution in support of federal and state initiatives to address bullying and cyberbullying.” Lauter continued, “We appreciate the fact that the ABA resolution and accompanying report appropriately recognized that there is a special risk for those who are bullied because of their personal characteristics such as race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.” said Ms. Lauter. ”
The text of the resolution:
Urges Prevention and Remediation of Bullying and Cyberbullying
RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local officials, to prevent and remediate the existence and dangers of bullying, including cyberbullying and youth-to-youth sexual and physical harassment, by
(1) defining these acts and developing education programs to assist teachers, parents, and children in identifying victims and enhancing appropriate interventions,
(2) analyzing existing laws and policies designed to prevent and respond to these acts and adopting and/or revising them as appropriate,
(3) monitoring the effectiveness of measures to prevent these acts and fostering interventions successfully implemented to reduce and respond to them,
(1) developing education programs to assist teachers, parents, and children in identifying victims of these acts and enhancing appropriate interventions,
(2) adopting, revising, and monitoring laws and policies designed to prevent these acts and foster interventions successfully implemented to reduce and respond to them,
(4) providing training,
(5) reporting on collected data,
(6) providing appropriate notice of bullying incidents to the families of involved youth, and having those families participate, when appropriate, in bullying prevention and intervention efforts; and
(7) affording institutional protections particularly for those children at risk of these acts resulting from actual or perceived characteristics such as race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges federal, state, territorial and local, officials and school administrators to adopt policies that discourage (1) inappropriate referral of youth to the juvenile justice system for acts of bullying and student-on-student harassment, and (2) inappropriate use of expulsion and out-of-school suspension for such acts.
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges government, private, and academic institutions to fund programs, research and evaluation that addresses prevention of and responses to these acts, including efforts to study and enhance evidence-based, and culturally and linguistically competent approaches.
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges all law enforcement agencies to cooperate with the FBI’s data collection program related to hate crimes committed by and against juveniles under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges Internet Service Providers and social networking platforms to adopt Terms of Service that define and prohibit cyberbullying and cyberhate,
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the application of bullying, cyberbullying, and related laws and policies should not be used to compromise the protected First Amendment free speech rights of students.
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges school districts to follow the October 2010 U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights “Dear Colleague” letter on bullying and harassment, and the Department to monitor compliance with the letter’s guidelines and more aggressively utilize federal and state civil rights protection authority under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Every day is worth living: “Do you ever delve into a stack of statistics and just find yourself mesmerized by the data, data that shocks your inner core? I had that happen to me recently as I was doing some fact checking surrounding instances of children committing suicide, specifically children who were bullied into suicide by others (both adults and children). I concluded, we lose too many precious children to ‘bullycide.’”
Bullycide: How many are too many? “You see in 2010, by my count, 30 children ranging in age from 9-19 took their own lives as they were unable to cope with the bullying which they were being subjected. These families who lost their child will remember 2010 in a much different light than the rest of us.”
Social Smarts : SocialSmarts™ is a series of courses that addresses the need for improved social skills in our young people. Created by The PoliteChild, the SocialSmarts program offers age-specific curriculum for students from toddlers to teens that teaches not only appropriate and successful behaviors, but also works to build and reinforce the underlying motivations and foundations for those behaviors.
Child Development: January/February 2011, Volume 82, Number 1 (Pages 405-432) – The impact of enhancing students social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions.
American Bar Association (ABA) “Urges Prevention and Remediation of Bullying and Cyberbullying”
Anti Defamation League (ADL) “The ADL takes a broad, holistic approach to addressing bullying and cyberbullying, tracking the nature and magnitude of the problem, developing education and training programs on bullying and cyberbullying, and advocating – at the state and federal level – for policies and programs that can make a difference.”
(NB: Christopher Burgess has recently agreed to serve a an Advisory Board member to Social Smarts)