Bullying & Cyber-Bullying Awareness & Prevention
is bullying, harassment or intimidation
based upon a person’s gender, race, ethnicity, perceived sexual orientation, sexual identity, religion, age, familial status, or mental, physical or sensory handicap.
The Union County Human Relations Commission is extremely proud of our long-standing, proactive and aggressive stance on promoting awareness and prevention of bullying, cyberbullying, intimidation and harassment — particularly with regard to bias-based bullying.
Soon after the Colombine High School tragedy in April 1999, the Commissioners began to more carefully explore the arena of bias and hate as it relates to bullying. A heated discussion over whether or not bullying should be considered “a rite of passage” at one meeting (it’s not!) led to the eventual creation of a Sub-Committee to further the education of the Commissioners, and ultimately, the community, on bullying, harassment and intimidation.
The exploding use of modern technology and gadgetry by children and youth has also resulted in that audience using that same technology and gadgetry to continue to abuse and torment each other (aka Cyber-Bullying/Bullycide), and, with the preponderance of a text-messaging culture in this generation, sexting.
The Commission is proud of its significant accomplishments in this realm, having partnered with the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and the Union County Superintendent of Schools in this initiative, and to continue to take a leadership role in the county community, and in the state, to increase awareness and efforts to intervene and prevent the negative short-term and long-term consequences it causes. This has included Train the Trainers workshops held for law enforcement and educators, involvement on the New Jersey Task Force for Bullying and CyberBullying Awareness and Prevention, the creation of printed brochures for students and adults in both English and Spanish, and ongoing educational presentations for students, parents and school staff.
Within the past year, several workshops have been held for school administrators, educators, school bullying coordinators, and law enforcement officers on these areas, as well as the requirements of the recent legislation.
With New Jersey’s passage of New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Student’s Bill of Rights –
the nation’s strongest anti-bullying legislation signed into law on January 5, 2011,
the national attention relating to the death
of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, and the recent verdict handed down
in the case against his roommate, Dharun Ravi, who was convicted of bias intimidation,
there continues to be a quest for information and understanding
by schools, students, parents, and the law enforcement community.
As reported in a New York Times article on March 16, 2012, the Ravi verdict, in particular,
is poised to broaden the definition of hate crimes
in an era when laws have not kept up with evolving technology.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the school to create a school environment and culture that will serve as the best intervention and prevention mechanism for bullying, harassment, intimidation and other forms of school violence and disrespectful activities. For this reason, and as part of our ongoing commitment to continue our leadership role in bullying and cyber-bullying awareness and prevention, we will continue our partnership with the Union County Superintendents of Schools and Union County Prosecutor’s Office to present ongoing educational and train-the-trainer workshops for educators and law enforcement officers focusing on New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act — signed into law by Governor Chris Christie on January 6, 2011, Bias-Based Bullying, Generational Texting/Sexting, Cyber-Safety, and Bullying, Bias-Based Bullying, and CyberBullying.
The Union County Human Relations Commission supports the findings of the New Jersey Commission on Bullying in Schools, created by then-Governor Corzine in 2008, which presented its 16 recommendations in December 2009. The report, entitled, “There’s No Time To Lose: An Urgent Call for Legal Reform and Effective Practices To Combat Bullying in New Jersey Schools,” can be viewed in full at www.njbullying.org. The New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights captures most of these recommendations. We will continue to support efforts to be sure that the educational community takes all of them into consideration when working to create a healthy school environment in their particular schools.
We highly recommend that anyone who is interested in learning more visit the website, www.stopbullyingnow.com, which is maintained by one of America’s most significant and leading-edge experts, Stan Davis.
Dr. Paula Rodriguez-Rust’s website, www.spectrumdiversity.com, also contains accurate and timely information, particularly on bias-based bullying and diversity education.
The UCHRC continues to receive requests for the three brochures created early on in this initiative: