Stand Up to Bullying New Hampshire was held on Nov. 15, 2013 at the Whittemore Center at UNH! The Stand Up event/rally was a huge success and featured many speakers including Lizzie Velasquez, a victim of bullying due to a very rare medical condition that does not allow her to gain weight. Also featured was Miss New Hampshire 2011, Regan Hartley, who was also a victim of bullying. An estimated 4000 middle and high school students and teachers attended the event from schools across New Hampshire. K-A-B was presented with an award for our success with Anti-Bullying Week (Nov. 18-22nd) and with other anti-bullying programs and activities. CHECK OUT THE PHOTO GALLERY FOR MORE STAND UP PHOTOS! For an OVERVIEW of Stand Up to Bullying 2013 (NH and MA) that includes a snippet of K-A-B, use this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7MCbJMKlOk&feature=youtube_gdata_player
WMUR reporter, Heather Hamel, recently conducted a videotaped interview with Brian Downer, Meski Wallace, and Summer Barnes (visiting from Coe-Brown), as part of an upcoming WMUR news feature on cyber-bullying. This is the link to the report "Bullying:The Digital Disguise": http://www.wmur.com/news/nh-news/special-reports/Bullies-use-new-apps-sites-to-harass-victims/-/13386842/23082256/-/axf3cjz/-/index.html (originally telecast on Nov. 21, 2013).
ANTI-BULLYING WEEK---NOV. 18-22ND!! Because of the efforts of our group--Kids Against Bullying--New Hampshire will have its first-ever anti-bullying week! Governor Maggie Hassan has officially proclaimed Anti-Bullying Week for Nov. 18-22, 2013. It is expected that the Governor will attend Stand Up to Bullying on Friday, Nov. 15th to talk about bullying and to read the proclamation for the anti-bullying week that will begin on the following Monday. All K-A-B members, past and present, should take pride in this. Anti-Bullying Week would not be a reality without our bill (HB 553), our Congressional testimony, and the year-long campaign that we've waged to have an officially sanctioned statewide Anti-Bullying Week.
Kids Against Bullying and Strafford School are officially part of a coalition of organizations and schools that is sponsoring Stand Up to Bullying 2013 New Hampshire. Stand Up is scheduled for Friday, November 15th (8:00AM to 12:30PM) at the Whittemore Center at the University of New Hampshire. Several thousand New Hampshire middle and high school students and teachers are expected to attend. The event is a combination rally, speaker program, caucus, and town meeting devoted to discussing and exchanging ideas about combating bullying. It is hoped that K-A-B members and other interested students from Strafford School and Coe Brown Northwood Academy will attend Stand Up. It is also hoped that Governor Hassan will attend and speak at Stand Up. K-A-B is officially in charge of inviting the Governor, and is still working with the Governor to have her proclaim the week of November 18-22 as Anti-Bullying Week in New Hampshire. More information about this should be forthcoming in September. This is the Stand Up website: http://standuptobullyingnh.org/.
Bad news, Good news: The bad news is that our bill (HB 553) did not receive enough votes from the House Education Committee to move on to the Senate. The good news is that having the Governor proclaim an Anti-Bullying Day does not require passage of a bill into law. If Governor Hassan believes in the cause and purpose of having an anti-bullying day, she can just go ahead and proclaim it without legislative approval. Kids Against Bullying was fortunate to have a meeting with Governor Hassan recently. She visited our school as part of Read Across America and took about 20 minutes of her time to meet with us to discuss our activities, in general, and to listen to why we think it is important to establish an anti-bullying day for New Hampshire. She expressed definite interest and seemed willing to proclaim such a day once we are specific about when and what exactly we want. Mr. K is a member of the planning committee for Stand Up to Bullying New Hampshire, and we may tie our request for an anti-bullying day (or week?) to the Stand Up NH event which is being planned for early November, 2013. Stay tuned.
The Chain of Kindness exceeded all of our expectations: Originally, we estimated that 3000 acts of kindness (each act was written down on a paper strip that then was looped and linked to a chain, adding 4" of length per act of kindness) would be needed for the Chain of Kindness to make it all the way around the outside of the school. Because of the recent storm and the new snow banks hugging the school, the number went to 4000 and even then we weren't sure. The very good news is that students and staff created an estimated 5000 links (making the Chain about 1650 feet long)---enough, with room to spare, to encircle our school on Valentine's Day in what Mr. K called a "ring of kindness". K-A-B says thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. It was a team effort from start to finish, and showed that a little kindness goes a long way. To read a newspaper (Rochester Times) article on the Chain of Kindness activity, link here: http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130314/GJNEWS04/130319603/0/SEARCH.
K-A-B members, along with Mr. K, pose after readying the Chain of Kindness for its trip outside and around the school.
HB 553: Kids Against Bullying was persuasive enough at the December meeting with invited legislators (see below) to gain their support for establishing an annual, state-designated Anti-Bullying Day. Rep. Donna Schlachman introduced the bill (HB 553) in January. The bill currently has ten sponsors---Democrats and Republicans, from both the House and the Senate. An initial hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, February 19th (11 AM), at the Legislative Office Building (LOB), before the House Education Committee. Among those who will testify are Mr. Kaufman (K-A-B Advisor), Summer Barnes (K-A-B Chair and one of the first to propose having an annual, state designated anti-bullying day) and K-A-B member Brian Downer. Other K-A-B members may also testify as will interested parties from the general community, both pro and con. About 20 K-A-B members are expected to attend the hearing. The following is HB 553 in its current form:
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Thirteen
AN ACT establishing New Hampshire anti-bullying day
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
1 New Section; Powers of Governor and Council; New Hampshire Anti-Bullying Day. Amend RSA 4 by inserting after section 13-r the following new section:
4:13-s New Hampshire Anti-Bullying Day. The governor shall annually issue a proclamation calling for the proper observance of the second Wednesday of November as New Hampshire Anti-Bullying Day and shall call on citizens, schools, and businesses of New Hampshire to observe the week with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and educational events promoting New Hampshire Anti-Bullying Day.
2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.
The Union Leader (Sunday, January 6, 2013) in an article supportive of strengthening the current New Hampshire bullying laws ("Enforcement of State Law Against Bullying Not Yet Perfect, Officials Say") mentioned K-A-B's efforts to create a statewide Anti-Bullying Day: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130106/NEWS07/130109517. Mr. K was quoted as saying,
"Having a designated anti-bullying day will serve as a springboard for interested parties to focus more needed attention and resources on the complex problem of bullying...A well-publicized anti-bullying day will help to galvanize schools, businesses and community organizations as well as individuals and families to engage in educational programming.''
K-A-B recently received public recognition for its award-winning video ("Bystanders Can Make a Difference")and for its highly successful Anti-Bullying Day, held on November 14th. Foster's Daily Democrat newspaper thought highly enough of these achievements, and the importance of the subjects, to put both story leads on the front page of its Dec. 10th edition. The full stories can be found online at the following Foster's links: http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20121210/GJCOMMUNITY04/121219974/0/SEARCH and http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20121220/GJNEWS04/121229957/0/SEARCH .
K-A-B recently invited two NH state senators and a representative of the House to meet with the group to discuss the possibility of creating a bill that if passed would establish an annual anti-bullying day for the state of New Hampshire. Senators Nancy Stiles and John Reagan along with Rep. Donna Schlachman met with us on December 6th, one day before the filing deadline for House bills. The very good news is that Rep. Schlachman agreed to sponsor a House bill to establish an annual anti-bullying day, which would always be the second Wednesday in November. It's expected that the bill will be subject to a hearing some time in January. At that time, members of K-A-B along with students from other schools and interested parties from the business world and community organizations throughout the state are expected to testify (and possibly demonstrate at the state house) to the importance of having an anti-bullying day. The Anti-Bullying Day bill, in LSR form, is registered as: 2013-H-0767-R.
Having a designated anti-bullying day will serve as a springboard for interested parties to focus more needed attention and resources on the complex problem of bullying. A well publicized anti-bullying day will help to galvanize schools, businesses and community organizations as well as individuals and families to engage in educational programming and/or direct services (e.g., program presentations, workshops, summits, corporate or workplace trainings, community discussions, clinical interventions). Without the fanfare of a designated day, many of these kinds of activities and events would very likely not happen. If just one school child or one employee or one spouse is spared the suffering and scarring from being bullied because of a new awareness or knowledge gained from an anti-bullying day activity or event, it is worth designating such a day. If just one potential bully is disuaded from doing so because he had the chance to hear "Ryan's Story," it is worth designating such a day. If just one bystander chooses to speak up and stand up for a victim, it is worth designating such a day. By establishing a legislated annual anti-bullying day, New Hampshire in effect will be giving its imprimatur or stamp of approval and recognition, in a bipartisan manner, to the seriousness and importance of finding solutions that will curb and prevent bullying to whatever degree is possible. Further, if this bill becomes law, New Hampshire will in effect be recognizing that bullying is an ongoing state-wide problem that exists not just in our schools, but at virtually every level of society, and in one way or another affects us all.
Meeting at school, along with a dozen or so members of Kids Against Bullying, to discuss establishing an annual anti-bullying day for NH, were (from left): Senator Nancy Stiles, Rep. Donna Schlachman, K-A-B Chairperson Summer Barnes, Senator John Reagan, and K-A-B Advisor Rick Kaufman.
The November 14th Anti-Bullying Day at our school was a resounding success! It began in the morning with the arrival of several busloads of students from neigboring schools, coming to join our 6th-8th graders to hear "Ryan's Story" as presented by Ryan's father, John Halligan. This is the story of the bullying, cyber-bullying and other events that led to the October 7, 2003 suicide of Ryan Halligan, an 8th-grade student attending a Vermont middle school. The audience of nearly 400 students and adults was spectacularly silent (occasionally, tearful sobs could be heard) as they listened spellbound to the emotionally charged account by Mr. Halligan. After the presentation, each student in attendance was given a black wristband with the inscription: --NEVER FORGET- -RYAN'S STORY-. Mr. Halligan was presented with one, as well. Also in attendance was one of our state senators, Nancy Stiles, who may help us in the coming months as we try to create legislation for a state anti-bullying day.
After lunch, K-A-B students joined with student and staff visitors from Nottingham Middle School and Coe-Brown High School in a 30-person workshop. We began by discussing our reactions to Ryan's Story and the lessons we learned from it (Mr. Halligan assisted greatly with this). After this, we took turns discussing levels of bullying and various interventions being tried at our respective schools. When it was our turn we talked about some of the K-A-B activities that we've done over the past year. We ended the workshop by playing our award-winning video ("Bystanders Can Make a Difference") for the group. Mr. Halligan liked it so well that he plans to include it on his Ryan's Story website ( http://www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org/index.htm). In the evening, Mr. Halligan gave a second presentation, this one for parents, entitled "Bullying, Cyber-Bullying and Teen Depression." It was very well received. Overall, the word from students, teachers, staff, and parents is that our Anti-Bullying Day was a wake-up call for some and a great learning experience for all.
Mr. Kaufman (K-A-B advisor) and several K-A-B members pose with Mr. Halligan following the anti-bullying workshop.
Creating a Chain of Kindness: K-A-B members are challenging Strafford School students (K-8) to build a Chain of Kindness that is long enough to encircle the school in a ring of kindness. Each time a student observes kids being kind to each other, or experiences the kindness of others towards him or her, they are asked to write down the act of kindness on a paper link and then loop it onto the ever-lengthening Chain of Kindness. It's estimated that it will take 3000 acts (links) or 1000 feet of kindness to make a chain long enough to encircle the school. The target date for accomplishing this is Valentine's Day, 2013. Even if the chain doesn't make it all the way around the school, K-A-B hopes that students will appreciate that a little kindness goes a long way.
Great News!! Over the summer, K-A-B was informed that the educational video the group made in the spring, "Bystanders Can Make a Difference," won second place in Hey U.G.L.Y.'s annual video contest. This is an international contest. Contest organizers explained that they normally don't award a second place prize, but that the K-A-B video was in their opinion "absolutely amazing" and right "on target" for what they were looking for, so they made an exception. An award of $100 was made, and our video has been posted on the Hey U.G.L.Y. website (link: http://heyugly.vidmeup.com/view?q=4ffc4c8d50a60.flv) where it has been viewed nearly 1000 times. "Bystanders Can Make a Difference" can also be found on the Videos page of this website where it's been viewed nearly 400 times.
K-A-B members, who made the winning video, display certificates awarded by Hey U.G.L.Y. Students are (from left): Bri Neily, Reece Sharps, Lauren Burrows, Camryn Chick, Summer Barnes, and Sadie Donnelly.
[The video, Alone, which was awarded first place by Hey U.G.L.Y. is an inspirational music video--featuring original music played and sung by students from Dalhousie Middle School, Dalhousie, New Brunswick, Canada. This is the link for Alone: http://heyugly.vidmeup.com/view?q=4f96cb50c355f.flv]
K-A-B members presented information about the group's activities to teachers and other staff members at a spring school staff meeting. Teachers, in general, expressed interest in K-A-B members coming into their classrooms to help educate students about types of bullying behavior and various ways to combat it. As a partial follow up to this meeting, K-A-B members recently presented a bully-themed (based on exclusion) puppet show and talk, on defining what is bullying behavior, to 2nd graders. More classroom presentations are planned for the next academic school year.
K-A-B members registered their disapproval (by displaying The Bully Project anti-bullying signs) of the R-rating given to the new documentary, "Bully." The MPAA has decided not to rate the documentary, leaving it up to theaters and parents to decide who gets to see the film. The net effect of the MPAA's ruling will likely mean that many fewer teens will see the documentary than would have been the case with a PG-13 rating.
Update: The MPAA caved today (April 5th) and granted a PG-13 rating to "Bully." This means that teens under 17, the primary intended audience for the film, can now see the documentary without having to have a parent present, and also means that middle and high schools can now show the documentary to their students. Word is that the filmmakers agreed to cut out three uses of the F-word, but were allowed to keep intact all the language, including F-words, in a key scene involving one of the students (Alex) being bullied on the school bus. In any event, the new PG-13 rating is a small victory for all of us who are engaged in the ongoing battle against bullying.
K-A-B members recently installed two Bully Boxes in the school--one in the area of the lower school and one in the area of the middle school. These boxes allow students to report on bullying behavior that has happened to them, personally, or was witnessed by them. In some cases, students may report bullying behavior anonymously. All reported instances of bullying will be checked into by the school counselors and/or administrators.
Carol Croteau, founder of Bully Free New Hampshire, visited the school at the end of March to speak to about a dozen K-A-B members about BFNH and anti-bullying legislation. K-A-B will be seeking legislative sponsorship for the 2013 legislative session to try to create an annual anti-bullying day for New Hampshire.
Other activities that K-A-B members have recently completed or are currently involved with include: conducting an anti-bullying poster (viewable in the Photo Gallery) and writing contest; visiting classrooms to give students an oppotunity to sign a pledge (posted here on The Pledge page) vowing to take a stand in some way when confronted with bullying behavior; making a video, "Bystanders Can Make a Difference," (posted on the Video page) which has been used as a teaching tool by K-A-B in 7th-grade classes; assisting counselors with classroom education regarding bullying; helping to create and use the "Bully Game" as a teaching tool in classrooms; working to increase general awareness of the important issues connected with bullying; and looking for and trying different ways to increase in-school and online K-A-B membership.