Monday, June 6, 2011

Organization, Victims Speak Out Against Bullying

This story is absolutely horrific! I just cried for this young girl. The only good news at the moment is that the bully who is 15 years old is being charged and treated like an adult. We have a very serious problem in our society that must be corrected immediately. It is unacceptable that here in America a teenager is being bullied every 7 minutes. We all must treat each other with respect and not ridicule. We must not put our head in the sand. Get involved. Bullying is not limited to teenagers. It is happening on our streets and in our work environments. It is time to stand up to bullying and embrace civility. We must be the change we wish to see in the world. We all must look at our own behavior and change. Do you call someone stupid? Stop. That is the beginning of bullying. My heart and prayers are with Josie Ratley and her community. - Kathy Horn

Published : Monday, 06 Jun 2011
Audrey Barnes
FOX 5 Reporter
WASHINGTON - Every seven minutes a teenager is bullied. It's a problem that seems to be getting worse instead of better.
An organization that's trying to reverse the trend launched a national campaign against bullying in Washington DC Sunday.

Organization, Victims Speak Out Against Bullying:

Josie Ratley, the survivor of a brutal bullying incident in Florida was here to focus attention on the problem. It's been 14 months since police say 15 year old Wayne Treacy put on steel toed boots, rode his bike to his local middle school in Florida, and nearly stomped 15 year old Ratley to death.
"I really believe that prayers are the reason my daughter is here now,"Hilda Gotay says.
Gotay can still barely speak about the attack her daughter Josie endured in March of 2010. She's still recovering from the massive brain injuries she suffered after being stomped and kicked in the head.
Sources say Treacy told police he was angry over text messages Ratley sent him telling him to stay away from her 13 year old friend.
After three surgeries and countless hours of physical therapy, Ratley still has a long way to go. She's relearning how to talk and do every day things, but even second grade school work is tough for her now .
Her mom wants people to keep praying for her.
"I don't want them to stop because she's having a lot of problems with her brain and her memory. We just don't know how far she'll be able to learn," Gotay says.
Helping victims like Josie is the mission for the group NVEEE, which started this anti bullying campaign. NVEEE stands for National Voices for Equality, Education, and Enlightenment.
"We provide resources for families, parents, teachers, and students when something like this happesn, but what we really want to do is prevent them from happening,"NVEEE President Jowharah Sanders says.
Gotay has a message for parents which she hopes will prevent some future bullying--make time for your kids.
"I understand there's parents out there with two jobs, whatever, but give that hug or a kiss so that even if he's upset about something when they go to school, they won't take it out on another kid,"Gotay says.
Wayne Treacy has been charged as an adult and is now facing first degree attempted murder charges in connection with Josie's attack.

If you would like more information about NVEEE's anti-bullying efforts, you can find it on their website,

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.

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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.

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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