Saturday, May 28, 2011

Iowa School Principal Delivers Birthday Spankings to Students

by Jessica Samakow
May 27th 2011

Why do you need birthday candles when you can get a spanking? Credit: Getty Images At most schools, kids and classmates enjoy cupcakes and candy on their birthdays. But, at Washington Elementary School in Linn County, Iowa, administrator Terry Eisenbarth celebrates with a slightly less conventional tradition.

Eisenbarth, the principal at Washington Elementary, is under fire for spanking kids with a padded hockey stick on their birthdays, a tradition he calls "whammies," The Des Moines Register reports.

When word of the whammies spread, parents started to complain. Parent Steve Wernimont told the newspaper that his 7-year-old, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, "did not like it one bit." Wernimont went to the police and the school board, but only after Eisenbarth and Pamela Ewell, superintendent of the Mount Vernon Community School District, failed to respond to a concerned email.

Eisbenbarth then sent a letter to parents, attempting to justify his actions. The "pat on the backside" was meant to be a fun way to celebrate after a special announcement on the school intercom, he explains. He sings "Happy Birthday," gives the birthday student a pencil and a calculator -- and then a whammy.

The letter also promises to stop the tradition because of discomfort it has caused, the Register reports.

Members of the school board met Wednesday night to decide whether or not to take action against Eisenbarth. According to the Register, Carol Greta, an attorney at the Iowa Department of Education, said birthday spankings don't appear to violate a state ban on corporal punishment.

Bob Penn, the school board's vice president, would not disclose the board's next actions. "Our mission is always to try to make decisions that are in the best interests of the kids in the district," he tells the Register.

Want to get the latest ParentDish news and advice? Sign up for our newsletter!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Documentary 'Finding Kind' urges girls to stop bullying

Lauren Parsekian hugs two Nathan Hale High School students Tuesday after a showing of "Finding Kind," a documentary she and Molly Thompson produced and directed. The two went to high schools around the country to interview girls about being bullied by other girls.

By Nancy Bartley
Seattle Times staff reporter

Lauren Parsekian hugs two Nathan Hale High School students Tuesday after a showing of "Finding Kind," a documentary she and Molly Thompson produced and directed. The two went to high schools around the country to interview girls about being bullied by other girls.

When it was over, the ninth- and 10th-graders at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle cheered and gave thumbs-up to a film that explores a serious problem among adolescent girls: bullying.

Two women who have experienced the worst of adolescent girls' cruelty to each other are using the documentary they've made, "Finding Kind," to bring attention to the issue and change the culture that pits girls against one another.

The filmmakers, Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson, are showing the film around the country, including at six schools in the Seattle area. The film has been featured at the Seattle International Film Festival and is expected to return to Seattle theaters in late September.

The film tells the stories of girls who have been bullied, as well as those who have bullied others. Anyone can play both roles, Parsekian and Thompson say.

The filmmakers say they're on a mission to inspire people of all ages, but students in particular, to take up the cause of kindness.

After the film screening Tuesday at Nathan Hale, students could fill out apology cards to someone they've bullied. Students could also write cards telling of their own experiences as victims. Sharing the cards was optional.

Student Chloe Trosper, 16, said the film made her "think about how words can be used to help or hurt people."

"It was really, really well done," said another student. "The message was important."

Teacher Jessica Torvik noted that the film was very well received.

Parsekian, who grew up in Orange County, Calif., said she was "one of the popular kids" with lots of friends through sixth grade. Then came middle school, and a lie was started about her by a boy who liked her. The lie was spread by one of Parsekian's girlfriends, who was jealous of the boy's attention.

As the lie gained momentum, her friends turned away and she found herself isolated and the target of telephone threats. Objects were thrown at her as she walked through school, things were stolen from her locker and her homework was destroyed.

When males phoned and said she'd be raped if she came to school, she wasn't bothered as much by the threat as she was by the sound of laughter in the background — the laughter of her former friends.

At 12, she developed an eating disorder, was severely depressed and attempted suicide.

Thompson, 24, grew up in Texas and also was the target of lies. She was punched in the face by a girl and abandoned by friends who wouldn't stick up for her.

The filmmakers now tell girls who are being bullied, "You're not alone" and "You will get through this."

The film interviews girls, psychologists and authors who have written on the subject.

TV shows, movies and advertisements targeting young women often pit them against each other, encouraging competition, and putting a high value on appearance rather than on goodness, experts say in the film.

Girls see girls sniping at each other on TV and think it's normal behavior. While in generations past, women fighting one another was a taboo, photos of girls fighting are posted on the Internet.

The state attorney general's Youth Internet Safety Task Force estimates that up to 30 percent of all students have either been the perpetrator or the victim of cyberbullying. The task force is creating a curriculum on cyberstalking to be distributed to schools in the fall.

Just last month in Issaquah, two girls, an 11-year-old and a 12-year-old, were charged with cyberstalking and computer trespass after they allegedly hacked into a classmate's Facebook account and posted sexually explicit photos and messages.

Nancy Bartley: 206-464-8522 or

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Anti-Cyber Bullying Bill Fails: Family Speaks Out

Ty Field inspired HB 1461. The Perkins boy killed himself after being bullied.

Dana Hertneky, News9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- State leaders voted down a bill named after an 11-year-old boy who killed himself after being bullied. House members killed the anti-bullying legislation with a 44 to 52 vote.

One year ago Tuesday, Kirk Smalley buried his 11-year-old son Ty.

"His mamma and I kissed him goodbye for the last time and I laid him to rest," said Smalley.

Tuesday was also the day he found out lawmakers voted down the House Bill aimed at preventing the type of bullying that led to his son's suicide. The bill was named after Ty.

"I'm really disappointed, ticked off to tell you the truth," said Smalley,

The bill would have mandated all school personnel be trained in recognizing bullying and require counseling for all parties when bullying does occur.

"We can't hold our heads in the sand anymore and think this will fix itself," said Smalley. "These people had the opportunity to fix this and save kid's lives and help schools get the training they need and they didn't do that."

"I just felt like it was overkill and a huge mandate placed on local school districts," argued Rep. Pam Peterson (R ) Tulsa, who led the debate against the bill.

She doesn't deny there's a problem. She just doesn't think the legislature is the solution.

"It was requiring school districts to train all their employees, their volunteers and file reports with us in the legislature," said Rep. Peterson.

But supporters of the bill argue lawmakers missed out on helping thousands of Oklahoma children in need.

"Any child that takes their own life because they were picked on at school, this will be on their heads, and I hope they can sleep with themselves at night," said Smalley.

Showing 1 comment
Sort By
1 hour ago
Rep Pam Peterson - "She doesn't deny there's a problem. She just doesn't think the legislature is the solution." Okay, if training personnel to recognize and effectively deal with instances of bullying isn't the solution, what the heck do you think is? More irresponsible action by legislators in this state.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

National Cyber Awareness Day reminds us all

National Cyber Awareness Day reminds parents, teachers, and youth mentors the importance of talking about cyber bullying, sexting, and more.

By Julia Harris
Sexting. Cyber bullying. Harassment via electronic communication. Perhaps today—National Cyber Awareness Day—is the time to talk to your children about these modern dangers.--The odds are high that your child will eventually be the victim of cyber bullying. According to Safe America, 50 percent of teens admit to being bullied online or by text message. Our youth don't have to be victims of cyber bullying or crime if parents and adults teach kids how to cope.

Megan Meirer, 13, was a victim of cyber bullying. Meirer suffered low self-esteem. A classmate’s mother, disguising herself as a cute boy that was home schooled, befriended her on Myspace. The two became close through their online relationship. Then, one day, the mother sent a message that read, “I don't know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I've heard that you are not very nice to your friends." After that message, Meirer began receiving harassing messages from other individuals on Myspace. The messages said things like, “Megan Meier is a slut” or “Megan Meier is fat.” The cruel messages took a toll on Meirer. On October 16, 2006, Meirer took her own life.Sexting, (sex+texting= sexting), refers to texts, either sent or received, that contain sexually explicit language or photographs. Although those involved view sexting as a harmless act, the not-so-private messages or pictures usually end up in the wrong hands. Sexting can often lead to cyber bullying, or worse, criminal charges.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution featured a story about a teen who began sending provocative photographs of herself to individuals she befriended online. After finding the photographs online, classmates sent the photograph through most of the student body. A classmate notified a teacher, but it was too late.

Talk to Your Kids

What your kids need to know is that everything communicated, whether through cell phone or online, is permanent. Explain to your child that trust perceived at the beginning of a relationship, when the message is sent, can change. Trust is often broken when a relationship ends, and their sexual messages or photographs can end up distributed to classmates, neighbors, and, realistically, worldwide on the Internet.

Your children need to know that the information may end up becoming public. To do this, individuals need to realize that everything they send or post will not remain private; think before texting or posting because in cyberspace, there’s no delete button. Do not give into anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Nothing is truly anonymous.

Shawn Edgington, author of The Parent’s Guide to Texting, Facebook, and Social Media: Understanding the Benefits and Dangers of Parenting in a Digital World, is America’s leading “Textpert” and cyber bullying prevention expert.

According to Edgington, almost half of our youth are experiencing some form of online harassment, and 71 percent of our teens receive messages from strangers online, and 39 percent of teenagers admit to sending or posting sexually suggestive messages (aka sexting). It’s also a fact that most kids don’t tell anyone about what’s happening to them in their online world, she said.

The video accompanying this article will help parents recognize the warning signs of cyber bullying, sexting, and textual harassment, and monitor your child's digital use.

Dallas-Hiram Patch encourages parents to be involved and informed about their child's use of digital technology. Ask questions. Monitor your child's use. It builds a framework that allows families to maximize communication about the digital environment while minimizing your child's risk. Your child's health and well-being depend on it.

As adults and parents, it is in our hands to create a generation of responsible and ethical digital citizens.

Has your child experienced cyber bullying or textual harassment? How did your family handle it?

Published in The Dallas - Hiram patch May 17,2011

Parents Upset Over Bullying Take Out Newspaper Ad

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 8:25 AM


— A bullying controversy in a Fairfield County school district continued Monday, as parents concerned over a student who they say is terrorizing their children took more action in an effort to have him removed from the middle school.

Several parents in the Liberty Union-Thurston School district said that administrators are not taking their concerns seriously enough, 10TV's Tanisha Mallett reported.

The bullying issues in Baltimore gained attention last month when a parent upset over the district's handling of the situation confronted Superintendent Paul Mathews in his office. The father was charged with disorderly conduct after the incident.

On Monday afternoon, Mathews said the school board would address the issues during a closed meeting prior to the next regular school board meeting, but Bob Denny, who has a child in the district, said that is not soon enough.

"I said it to you before, the kid is a threat and we are not backing off of that," Denny said.

Denny and another parent have paid to put an ad concerning the matter in a local newspaper. They have also created an e-mail address and urged parents whose children have had run-ins with the student to share their stories, Mallett reported.

"He is a threat to my family so I need some answers," Denny said, "and we are going to pursue it until we get some answers."

Baltimore police confirmed that the student, who 10TV is not identifying because he is a minor, was arrested Friday for a probation violation. Police records show he was on probation for an incident that occurred outside of school, Mallett reported.

The boy's father said his lawyer advised him not to speak about the case, but he did say that the students who say they are victims were not blameless in the situation.

Watch 10TV News and refresh for additional information.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Bully Project Gets In Your Face!

The beginning of this documentary's journey started two and half years ago by producer Lee Hirsch. At the time bullying had not reached the epidemic that it is in our country today. The Bully Project is directed by Louis Jordan. This is an emotional, powerful new documentary that premiered at Tribeca film festival last month. You can not watch this film and walk away in denial. The tortured lives captured in this film is in your face and heart wrenching. The tortured lives captured in this film is heart wrenching and in your face.

What our youth are having to endure is unacceptable. They are carrying enormous pain. For some when all other possible solutions are exhausted, they choose suicide. We must eradicate bullying behavior. There are over 45 states with bullying laws on the books but these laws have not stopped bullying or the suicides of our youth. We must all stand up to the bullies together. Get involved. Start by viewing this documentary. Once you watch The Bully Project, you will understand how critical this problem is in our society. Don't we all deserve a positive, safe space in which to live out our dreams?

N.H. a leader in fight against bullying

May 16,2011

By John Weaver

In the wake of the sentences delivered to Massachusetts teenagers associated with the Phoebe Prince suicide investigation, attention has returned to bullying in schools and cyberbullying out of schools. In New Hampshire, we have an aggressive law that has developed over the last decade. New Hampshire passed the "Pupil Safety and Violence Prevention Act" in 2000. It was amended in 2004 and again in 2010. Bullying Police USA, a watchdog organization, has given the law an A++ in response to last year's amendment.

One of the big reasons why Bullying Police USA gave New Hampshire such high marks for its anti-bullying law was the fact that it addresses cyberbullying: bullying or harassment that occurs online via Facebook, instant messages, e-mail, Web pages, and other Internet-based communications. The statute grants schools the authority and responsibility to respond to bullying that occurs out of school, like cyberbullying and text messaging, when it "interferes with a pupil's educational opportunities or substantially disrupts the orderly operations of the school or school-sponsored activity or event."

Under the current law, public school boards had until Jan. 1 of this year to adopt policies that prohibit bullying. Following policy adoption, districts must train their teachers and establish reporting procedures for identified incidents of bullying. New Hampshire's law defines bullying as a single significant incident or a pattern of incidents involving written, verbal, or electronic communication, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another pupil which either (1) physically harms a pupil or damages the pupil's property, (2) causes emotional distress to a pupil, (3) interferes with a pupil's educational opportunities, (4) creates a hostile educational environment or (5) substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school.

What this means is that schools are responsible for providing a safe, secure and respectful learning environment for all students, not just in school buildings, but also online, when kids are susceptible to cyberbullying. This was a new requirement added to the law by the 2010 amendment. Prior to this specific obligation, school officials were uncertain as to the extent of their responsibility to respond to bullying off school grounds. It effectively requires schools to police student-to-student harassment and abuse committed anywhere if it negatively affects their school performance.

The statute also states that when a school receives a report of bullying, whether in school or out of school, it is required to initiate an investigation within five schools days of the principal receiving the report. Further, the principal must take action to remediate the bullying and offer assistance to the students where appropriate. The goal is to stop the bullying, but also to reduce the risk of future incidents. Because of the clear obligations established in New Hampshire's law, teachers and school administrators must take reports of bullying seriously, and parents should take advantage of that. If you believe your child has been bullied, report it to his or her teacher and principal.

But combating bullying requires more than just policies, reporting, and investigations. The starting point for positive school behavior between and among students begins with encouraging and rewarding good behaviors. Parents can assist schools to create programs that promote such behavior. Examples include good citizen of the month, student of the week, above and beyond awards, and other recognition of good behavior that can be incorporated into the school's culture.

Administrators, faculty, school employees, and parents must model respectful and appropriate behavior. Schools must monitor behaviors and not tolerate unacceptable behavior. School administrators should cultivate and promote open communication, an open door to raise concerns, and diversity and inclusion of all members of the school community — students, employees, and parents. A written policy, training and appropriate responses when bullying does occur are the requirements under New Hampshire's law, but providing a healthy, safe and respectful school atmosphere is a school's and parent's best tool to combat bullying in our schools.

John Weaver is a member of the Real Estate Department and the Education Law Practice Group at the law firm of McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton, Professional Association. He can be reached at 628-1442 or The McLane Law Firm has offices in Concord, Manchester and Portsmouth.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fear Is The Bully

by ADAM SCHERR on APRIL 18, 2011

“Mom approves 7-year old for plastic surgery to pin back ears to avoid schoolyard bullying.” This was a headline last Thursday in the NY Daily News. Given my emotional bull in the china shop nature, my emotions ran the gamete. Disbelief, anger, saddness and then a bumpy landing into real concern for OUR children. Now when I say our, I don’t mean mine and my wife’s, I mean US of OuRs.

Now I’m not here to say whether plastic surgery as a preventive measure is right or wrong. Although I am here to say it is merely putting a bandaid on a fatal gunshot wound on the soul of our youth.

The mother said she was upset about her daughters ears. The article didn’t mention how the girl felt. I do know that as a parent I have to constantly pray about not passing any fear to my boys. Fear is the most serious contagion going around. It is the root of “all evils.” The article says further: “kids are mean.” And I say if we are to take this bullying epidemic by the horns, we must start with ourselves. We must stop righting off our children as mean and bad. They aren’t born that way. They learn it. If I want my kids to stop yelling than I need to make sure that I’m not yelling. If my wife and I see our kids talking back to us, we just need to look and see if we are talking back to each other. It does the trick every time. Kids are born perfect. And they have a lifetime warranty. And it is our job to hold onto the warranty and nurture their perfection. Speak to their perfection not to their perceived defaults. That is our job as parents and adults.

The mother said that although she hadn’t been bullied yet, she feared that her daughter’s ears would eventually make her-self conscious and shy. The mother feared all the way to NY, all the way to a plastic surgeon. Having been in fear myself at times, I can only imagine how devastating it must be to be bullied by fear to the point that you take your child half way across the country for them to get plastic surgery, to prevent them from getting bullied in the future. The collective we must take this BULL-ying by it’s horns now. It is time to bully fear and doubt before it bullies anymore of our children.

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is to be understood.” Marie Curie.
“Keep your fears to yourself but share your courage with others.” Robert Louis Stevenson
“You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith.” Mary Manin Morrissey