March 26, 2015 at 9:18 pm

Tamar Braxton Breaks Down Over Bullying on The Real

Tamar Braxton had an emotional moment on The Real yesterday when the topic of discussion came to bullying. Braxton talked about the hurt she felt after Chris Brown and K. Michelle started saying she looked like a muppet.

“I was just asking my husband the other day. A particular person started saying I look like a muppet. People say it so much that sometimes, I start to believe it. And so, I even asked Vince, ‘Do I look like a muppet?’ and he said ‘Absolutely not,’” Braxton recounted. “But this person has the whole world calling me that and it’s just so devastating because it takes me back to high school and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

The singer couldn’t hold it together any longer once her co-host Jeannie Mai asked her what she would tell her son Logan about handling bullies. Tamar responded, “I don’t have any advice to give me son because…” With Tamar clearly choked up, Tamera chimed in to finish her statement saying “she’s still dealing with it.” is your #1 source for Black celebrity news, photos, exclusive videos and all the latest in the world of hip hop and RB music.

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at 9:18 pm

Educators: Bullying Must Be Addressed at Elementary Grade Level

DES MOINES, Iowa — Educators from across the state met to discuss the issue of bullying prevention and resolution on Thursday.

The second annual Conference on Bullying: Investigation and Resolution hosted at Drake University focused on addressing bullying at the elementary grade level.

Educators, administrators and education graduate students discussed ways to change the environment where bullying thrives, how to investigate bullying and the consequences of the actions.

Dr. Sandra Patton – Imani said teachers must teach students how to empathize with others and to think critically about things outside of their comfort zones.

“Where do they come from? What are their cultural backgrounds? It’s okay to think differently but we have to respect each other in the process,” said Patton – Imani.

Patton – Imani says addressing bullying in grade school prevents it from becoming a bigger issue at the high school level.

“Students who cannot empathize with  kids by the time they get to middle school, I would not wanna say lost cause about any kid, but it’s very very hard to get a middle school kid to start thinking empathy,” said Patton – Imani.

In February, a massive racially motivated fight broke out at Valley High School. Students say the three fights stemmed from a racist post on social media site, Instagram.

On Thursday the high school will host a public forum on racism. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Valley High School cafeteria.

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Can a Movie Help Stop Bullying-Related Suicide? A Girl Like Her Tries

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Nickelodeon Reveals Cast for ‘School of Rock’ Series

Posted by in School

Nickelodeon is ready to rock.

The kids’ cabler and Paramount Television announced the full cast for the upcoming “School of Rock” series, based on the 2003 Jack Black movie. The TV adaptation is currently in productionat Paramount Studios in Los Angeles and is set to premiere this fall.

Ricardo Hurtado, Lance Lim, Aidan Miner, Jade Pettyjohn and Breanna Yde have been cast as the “School of Rock” students, joining Tony Cavalero, who will topline the live-action, musical comedy series, playing musician-turned-substitute teacher Dewey.

The series will follow Dewey, who becomes the most unique and well-liked teacher the students have ever had. Although he has an alternative approach to teaching and could probably learn more from his students about history or math, he uses the language of rock ‘n’ roll to elevate and inspire his class to reach new heights as the band called School of Rock.

Hurtado has been cast as Freddy, the new kid who brings a fresh and rebellious perspective to the school. He is effortlessly cool, recognizes the opportunity in building the band with Dewey and challenges the class to take risks in the name of having fun.

Lim (“Growing Up Fisher”) has been cast as Zack, a reserved child of overbearing parents who comes out of his shell to become the band’s electric guitarist. He fears the consequences of breaking the rules, but also embraces the independence that Dewey encourages.

Miner (Nickelodeon Creative Lab’s “Homeroom”) plays Lawrence, the quirky, tech kid who ends up being the confident keyboardist for the band.

Pettyjohn (Nickelodeon’s “Henry Danger”) plays Summer, the overachiever. Not satisfied with playing tambourine in the band, she ultimately becomes the manager when she realizes she can use her organizational skills to help out the band. Summer has a crush on Freddy (Hurtado).

Yde (Nickelodeon’s “The Haunted Hathaways”) has been cast as Tomika, the tomboy of the bunch who is the bass player for the band. Although she’s more comfortable with a skateboard than a microphone, Tomika soon learns she is a double threat, as a gifted guitarist and singer. Tomika and Summer (Pettyjohn) are best friends.

The series, which was given a straight-to-series 13-episode order, will be exec produced by Jim and Steve Armogida (“Crash Bernstein,” “My Family”), plus the original movie’s director Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”) and producer Scott Rudin.

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Milton High alert set off by man carrying gun, drugs

Posted by in School

MILTON — School officials locked down Milton High School just after the dismissal bell rang on Wednesday, when a Watertown man carrying a gun tried to enter the school’s front door and a second male was found to have slipped through another entrance, police said.

Officers arrested Jonathan E. Villagran, 19, who may have been looking to sell marijuana — he was carrying almost two ounces — or to speak with a female student with whom he had a relationship, when he was turned away because he is not a student, said Milton Police Chief Richard Wells.

Continue reading below

Video surveillance shows that Villagran remained near the front of the building as school officials called 911 and police came to the school, the chief said.

“The first responding officers were able to determine that he was not a student there and that his intention was to get in the school for not a school-related purpose,” Wells said at a news conference outside the police station. “In that conversation, they were also able to determine that they felt he was extremely nervous and he had a very strong odor of marijuana about him.”

Police discovered that Villagran was carrying not only marijuana but also a loaded handgun, an open bottle of rum, and about $3,000 in cash, Wells said.

Villagran was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm on school property, possession of ammunition, possession of Class B drugs with intent to distribute, and disturbing a school operation.

He is being held on $100,000 cash bail and is expected to be arraigned in Quincy District Court on Thursday, Wells said.

As officers were speaking to Villagran, another nonstudent was found to have entered the school building through a back door.

“We’re not sure what his intent was to go in there,” Wells said. “He’s not charged; he’s not under arrest. But based on the fact that there were two . . . the school was placed into a lock-down mode and a full search of the facility.”

Wells said the two individuals involved were not connected.

Villagran never had any contact with students, Milton Schools Superintendent Mary C. Gormley said in an e-mail to the school community.

“Although he never entered the school, out of concern that this individual might not have been alone, it was determined that the school should be put into a lock-down as a preventative measure,” Gormley said.

School officials had asked parents not to come to the school, but that did not stop some.

Stephanie Battles, 43, was awaiting word from her 15-year-old son, Jose Monteiro, whom she believed was locked inside the school’s weight room.

“It’s on lock-down. That’s all we know,” she said. “They said for the parents not to come to the school — but yeah, right.”

Battles said she was “extremely worried. Worried for my child, but worried for all the kids.”

Evan Allen of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at

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No, Finland isn’t ditching traditional school subjects. Here’s what’s really …

Posted by in School

Finland’s plans to replace the teaching of classic school subjects such as history or English with broader, cross-cutting “topics” as part of a major education reform have been getting global attention, thanks to an article in The Independent, one of the United Kingdom’s trusted newspapers. Stay calm: despite the reforms, Finnish schools will continue to teach mathematics, history, arts, music and other subjects in the future.

But with the new basic school reform all children will also learn via periods looking at broader topics, such as the European Union, community and climate change, or 100 years of Finland’s independence, which would bring in multi-disciplinary modules on languages, geography, sciences and economics.

It is important to underline two fundamental peculiarities of the Finnish education system in order to see the real picture. First, education governance is highly decentralised, giving Finland’s 320 municipalities significant amount of freedom to arrange schooling according to the local circumstances. Central government issues legislation, tops up local funding of schools, and provides a guiding framework for what schools should teach and how.

Second, Finland’s National Curriculum Framework is a loose common standard that steers curriculum planning at the level of the municipalities and their schools. It leaves educators freedom to find the best ways to offer good teaching and learning to all children. Therefore, practices vary from school to school and are often customized to local needs and situations.

Phenomenon-based learning

The next big reform taking place in Finland is the introduction of a new National Curriculum Framework (NCF), due to come into effect in August 2016.

It is a binding document that sets the overall goals of schooling, describes the principles of teaching and learning, and provides the guidelines for special education, well-being, support services and student assessment in schools. The concept of “phenomenon-based” teaching – a move away from “subjects” and towards inter-disciplinary topics – will have a central place in the new NCF.

Integration of subjects and a holistic approach to teaching and learning are not new in Finland. Since the 1980s, Finnish schools have experimented with this approach and it has been part of the culture of teaching in many Finnish schools since then. This new reform will bring more changes to Finnish middle-school subject teachers who have traditionally worked more on their own subjects than together with their peers in school.

Schools decide the programme

What will change in 2016 is that all basic schools for 7- to 16-year-olds must have at least one extended period of multi-disciplinary, phenomenon-based teaching and learning in their curricula. The length of this period is to be decided by schools themselves. Helsinki, the nation’s capital and largest local school system, has decided to require two such yearly periods that must include all subjects and all students in every school in town.

One school in Helsinki has already arranged teaching in a cross-disciplinary way; other schools will have two or more periods of a few weeks each dedicated to integrated teaching and learning.

In most basic schools in other parts of Finland students will probably have one “project” when they study some of their traditional subjects in a holistic manner. One education chief of a middle-size city in Finland predicted via Twitter that: “the end result of this reform will be 320 local variations of the NCF 2016 and 90% of them look a lot like current situation.”

You may wonder why Finland’s education authorities now insist that all schools must spend time on integration and phenomenon-based teaching when Finnish students’ test scores have been declining in the most recent international tests. The answer is that educators in Finland think, quite correctly, that schools should teach what young people need in their lives rather than try to bring national test scores back to where they were.

What Finnish youth need more than before are more integrated knowledge and skills about real world issues, many argue. An integrated approach, based on lessons from some schools with longer experience of that, enhances teacher collaboration in schools and makes learning more meaningful to students.

Students involved in lesson design

What most stories about Finland’s current education reform have failed to cover is the most surprising aspect of the reforms. NCF 2016 states that students must be involved in the planning of phenomenon-based study periods and that they must have voice in assessing what they have learned from it.

Some teachers in Finland see this current reform as a threat and the wrong way to improve teaching and learning in schools. Other teachers think that breaking down the dominance of traditional subjects and isolation of teaching is an opportunity to more fundamental change in schools.

While some schools will seize the opportunity to redesign teaching and learning with non-traditional forms using the NCF 2016 as a guide, others will choose more moderate ways. In any case, teaching subjects will continue in one way or the other in most Finland’s basic schools for now.

at 3:17 pm

Group Reacts to Twitter’s New Effort to Combat Bullying

Abusive and offensive language is included in a number of the roughly 500 million tweets sent per day. That’s why Twitter has set out to help weed some of those tweets out of users’ timelines. Elizabeth Jeneault reports. 

CAMILLUS, N.Y. — It’s called the “quality filter.” A part of Twitter’s ongoing push to combat bullying on the widely popular social media platform. Once users who have access to the feature enable it, offensive tweets magically disappear from their timeline.

“I think that having these social networks try to engage with their users and try to collaborate on how to combat cyberbullying,and try to combat this issue is great,” said Nick Longo, one of the non-profit’s co-founders.

However, Longo and other members of the anti-bullying group called Stop the Hate, Spread the Hope say more needs to be done. While Twitter and other platforms have tried to make it easier for users to report abuse, the non-profit said those features could be improved.

“Twitter, Facebook, any social media platform needs to be quick in their response because if they’re not, someone is just going to have more and more bad attention that they don’t want on them,” said Longo.

And although it may not be incredibly easy for users to report incidents of abuse just yet, the group says people should do so anyway.

“Tell that to the site. Report it and really just address that as fast as possible,” said Longo.

“I’ve very rarely seen a community effort like that turn on itself and it usually cultures a better environment overall,” said Michael McCartney, another one of the non-profit’s co-founders.

A call to action that just may help more people enjoy their experience on the web.

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Bullying blamed for Montrose High School student’s suicide

MONTROSE, Colo. – Bullying is being blamed for the suicide of a teenager on the Western Slope.

Cait Haynes, a student at Montrose High School, died Tuesday.

Friends told KJCT-TV that Cait was an athletic trainer for the Montrose High School football team and was recently accepted into a pre-med scholars program at Washington University in St. Louis.

However, friends said her high school years were filled with gossip and rumors and bullying that pushed Cait to commit suicide.

If you are considering suicide or need someone to talk to, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

If you see threatening behaviors that are endangering you, or someone you know, call the Safe2Tell hotline at  1-877-542-7233 or submit a tip through the Safe2Tell website.

The State of Colorado has a website with more resources to prevent youth suicide.

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Can a Movie Help Bullying-Related Suicide? A Girl Like Her Tries

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Group holds first anti-bullying walk at Big Four Bridge

Walk to end discrimination bullying

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Bullied teen fighting back with lawsuit


A Manitoba teen who claims he was bullied at school is fighting back in the form of a lawsuit.

Parents of the now 16-year-old boy are seeking unspecified financial damages against Gimli High School and the Evergreen School Division. None of their allegations, which are outlined in documents filed last week, have been proven.

According to the statement of claim, the teen was subjected to frequent bullying shortly after starting Grade 9 in the fall of 2012. The family said several complaints were filed with school administrators and even the RCMP, but no action was taken.

The parents said things actually worsened as the school year progressed, and the boy was eventually transferred to another school in 2013.

An RCMP investigation was launched but no charges were laid, according to the lawsuit. The family said school officials actually “interfered” with the police probe while insisting there was no wrongdoing. They said the bullying incidents occurred inside the school, on the grounds of the facility, on the school bus and even in the community and on social media.

Specific details of the alleged incidents — which include both verbal and physical harassment — will be presented at a civil trial, if the matter proceeds to that stage. School officials have 30 business days to file statements of defence. They declined to comment on the allegations.

The issue of bullying is a major one these days, with several local cases making recent headlines.

Last winter, the family of a 15-year-old boy spoke out with their concerns about the River East School Division.

David Hanuschuk is a dwarf who family members said has been subjected to constant bullying since he started kindergarten at Bird’s Hill School. They said it peaked at Robert Andrews School in middle years, and it’s continuing at Murdoch MacKay Collegiate.

The family lodged a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission but have not filed a lawsuit at this time.

Last year, two Manitoba teen brothers were sentenced to 16 months in jail for one of the most extreme cases of cyberbullying ever discovered in the province.

“The bullying and sexual exploitation of children, via social media, represents a new and disturbing phenomenon in our society,” provincial court Judge Don Slough said in a written decision.

The victim, a 14-year-old girl, first had contact with the two accused— both minors at the time — through Facebook and other social-media platforms. She had been referred to the brothers by another teen, who told the girl he knew where she lived and would “do something to her” if she didn’t send him nude pictures.

Over a period of several days — and thousands of lines of online text messages — the brothers threatened her into taking and sending explicit photos of herself. Although they lived in the same small Manitoba community, they didn’t actually know each other or meet face to face.

The brothers promised the girl they would keep the images to themselves. But they broke that promise, distributing the images via social media.

The girl’s parents got suspicious in January 2014 when her behaviour and demeanour changed dramatically, court was told. They demanded to see her iPod and found some of the messages the boys had sent her. They immediately contacted RCMP.

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Kentucky case could set precedent for school responsibility in student suicides

Dive Brief:

  • The Kentucky Supreme Court will hear a case Wednesday to determine whether or not a school can be held responsible for failing to stop bullying that led to a student’s suicide.
  • Eight years ago, then-eighth-grader Stephen Patton took his own life after being bullied and taunted by a few of his peers at Allen Central Middle School in Eastern, KY.
  • Patton’s mother filed the lawsuit claiming four teachers, two superintendents, and the school’s principal were all aware that her son was being bullied but did nothing to mitigate the situation. 

Dive Insight:

This is not the first time schools have been named as defendants in bullying cases. In March, a New Jersey district being sued for not intervening in bullying made news when it requested to add students as third-party defendants.

Bullying is a major issue at schools, and while there is a lot of kumbaya talk, educators and administrators are often ill-equipped to actually handle the situation. Making sure the adults on campus have professional development on bullying, as well as real techniques for diffusing situations, is key. Often when bullying is not addressed in schools, it’s not because the administrators don’t care—it’s because they genuinely don’t know how to stop the behavior from happening.

Recommended Reading

USA Today :
Are schools liable in suicides? Ky. high court hears case

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Kentucky Supreme Court reviews Floyd County bullying case

The case stems from the 2007 suicide of Stephen Patton, a middle school student in Floyd County. His mother sued teachers and administrators, claiming they were negligent by failing to stop the bullying.

Frankfort, KY (AP)- The Kentucky Supreme Court has heard arguments in a case delving into whether teachers and school administrators can be found negligent for the suicide of a bullied student.

The case stems from the 2007 suicide of Stephen Patton, a middle school student in Floyd County. His mother sued teachers and administrators, claiming they were negligent by failing to stop the bullying.

In arguments Wednesday, an attorney for Patton’s family said the boy was bullied in front of teachers. The attorney, Vanessa Cantley, said school officials failed to follow the school district’s anti-bullying policy.

Neal Smith, representing some of the defendants, says no one knows why the youngster killed himself. He says Patton never complained of bullying to school officials.

Patton’s family is appealing after losing in circuit court and the state Court of Appeals.

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“I Even Asked Vince Do I Really Look Like A Muppet?” Tamar And The Real …

Source: The Real

Source: The Real

You know we love the women of “The Real” for their honesty and willingness to talk about prevalent issues, in ways that other talk shows hosts can’t or won’t breach. And today, on their show the ladies discussed being bullied. Not as children but being bullied now that they’re adults, especially on social media.

Tamera said that her strategy is to love the hell out of people. She said that she finds when she looks at their personal pages, she’s able to determine that they don’t even really love themselves and the things they say to her are really just projections of their own issues.

The discussion was already weighty but it got emotional when Jeannie Mai asked Tamar what she plans to teach her son Logan about responding to bullies.

And that’s when Tamar got emotional.

Jeannie: I do want to ask Tamar, being a mother and being someone who still goes through it today, what advice, if it was maybe Logan or if you had a chance to say something to that person that was bullying you, what would you say to them? How would you deal with it today?

Tamar: Oh God, I feel like a terrible person. Cuz I don’t have any advice to give my son because I’m…

Tamera: …she’s still dealing with it. 

Lonnie: You’re still a new mother so you’re still growing. 

Jeannie: I get scared. You know they say fight or flight. I flight like crazy. I go and I hide. I think where is the bed that I can hide under to get everybody to just go away. I feel weak. This is really interesting that you say this Tamar because you’re so strong.

Tamar: I’m not.

Jeannie: You come off so strong. I didn’t know that you also have that you don’t know what to do.

Tamar: It’s so crazy that you think I’m strong. I would have never known that you’re bullied and that things that people say affect you because you move in stride like nothing’s wrong and everything’s good and the world is peachy cream and it tastes like strawberries. 

I feel like right now in this moment I’m learning from you. So thank you for that Jeannie.

I was just asking my husband the other day…You know when you say Lonnie that you’re just not going to talk about my girls, I know exactly what you’re talking about because a particular person started saying that I looked like a muppet. And people say it so much that sometimes I start to believe it. And so I even asked Vince, “Do I look like a muppet?” And he’s like “Absolutely not.” But this person has the whole world calling me that. And it’s just so devastating because it takes me back to high school and there’s nothing I can do about it. But what I can do is what Jeannie does and thank you Jeannie. I can act like the world is all peaches and cream and tastes like strawberries. And so I’m going to take that with me today. Thank you. Thank you friend.

If you’ve been following our site or Tamar on Instagram or Twitter, you know that the person she’s talking about is K. Michelle.  The two have had their fair share of nasty exchanges that K. Michelle has turned into personal attacks, on occasion, when she started likening Tamar to Miss Piggy. Though it seemed like Tamar wasn’t particularly fazed by the insult, the tears on the show, proved that she was.

I know many of you are tired of the bullying conversation. But if people like Tamar who have a little bit of money, a decent family life, talent and a successful career are still affected this strongly by the words of another, then hopefully this discussion and video will serve as a reminder to all of us to be more careful with our words on and offline.

You can watch the full emotional and teary discussion in the video below.

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Kentucky Judges Ponder Case of School Bullying Suicide

Associated Press

Can schools and teachers be held responsible if a bullied student commits suicide?

The Kentucky Supreme Court took up the question on Wednesday after the family of 13-year-old Stephen Patton sued teachers and school administrators. Defense attorneys disputed whether Stephen was even bullied and said they hadn’t seen any other lawsuits where a family was able to hold school officials negligent.

Stephen, a 6-foot-3, 196-pound boy, towered over classmates, but his imposing presence didn’t protect the shy kid with a stutter from bullies — and ultimately his suicide, his lawyer told the justices. The eighth-grader at Allen Central Middle School in Floyd County shot himself to death in November 2007 after he was constantly bullied in the school’s halls and cafeteria, said his family’s attorney, Vanessa Cantley.

“The teachers knew about it and they did nothing. They violated clear directives from school procedure,” Cantley said.

Attorneys for seven school officials named in the suit countered that Stephen never complained to anyone. Stephen didn’t leave a note, and they said his suicide was a mystery.

“There is absolutely no proof … to demonstrate that he committed suicide because of anything that had to do with the school or the school district,” said attorney Jonathan Shaw.

Neal Smith, an attorney for four teachers, said Stephen had suffered from migraines since age 5 and told another student he would rather die than have another severe headache.

Cantley said children are unlikely to admit being bullied out of embarrassment and fear of retaliation.

The lawsuit was dismissed by a Floyd County judge, a ruling upheld by the Kentucky Court of Appeals. The Patton family is asking the Supreme Court to send the case back to Floyd County for trial.

Cantley said a jury should decide if the alleged bullying was a “substantial factor” behind the suicide.

The justices grilled attorneys from both sides.

“Bullying is a matter of judgment with the teacher, is it not?” Justice Bill Cunningham asked.

Cantley said the district’s anti-bullying policy specifically delves into what constitutes bullying and what teachers should do.

Smith said it’s difficult for teachers to determine the difference between bullying and horseplay.

“If every incident of horseplay must be considered bullying, then the teachers won’t be teaching,” he said. “They’ll be filling out bullying forms all day, every day.”

Justice Lisabeth Hughes Abramson noted “there’s probably no more difficult time than middle school.”

“I doubt anybody went through middle school without either observing or participating in or being bullied,” she said.

The attempt to pin negligence on school officials for a bullied student’s suicide could have broader ramifications, Abramson said. The family of a domestic violence victim who commits suicide, for example, could try to hold the perpetrator responsible for the death, Abramson said.

“It seems to me that suicide is one of those complex, human events that has so many factors,” Abramson said.

Cantley said Stephen was mocked for his stutter, and had his lunch box seized by bullies who took whatever they wanted and threw the rest on the floor.

“He never fought back,” she said. “He was a gentle giant.”

The Patton family is seeking unspecified monetary damages in the suit. The family wants to use that money to set up a memorial foundation in Stephen’s name to provide anti-bullying education and training, she said.

March 25, 2015 at 9:17 pm

Kentucky Supreme Court reviews school bullying case

The Kentucky Supreme Court has heard arguments in a case delving into whether teachers and school administrators can be found negligent for the suicide of a bullied student.
The case stems from the 2007 suicide of Stephen Patton, a middle school student in Floyd County.

Patton’s mother sued teachers and administrators, claiming they were negligent by failing to stop the bullying.
In arguments Wednesday, an attorney for Patton’s family said the boy was bullied in front of teachers.

The attorney, Vanessa Cantley, said school officials failed to follow the school district’s anti-bullying policy.
Neal Smith, representing some of the defendants, said no one knows why the youngster killed himself.

Smith said Patton never complained of bullying to school officials.
Patton’s family is appealing after losing in circuit court and the state Court of Appeals.

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Parents Fight Bullying App With Messages of Love

Comments that acknowledge and legitimize cyberbullying as hurtful are the most helpful. “That type of remark tells the community, ‘We know this hate is wrong and we stand with the person being targeted,’ especially if someone is being named,” says Patchin. “So instead of that person feeling ganged up on, they feel that friends have their back.” 

The best way to help kids experiencing cyberbullying, though, is to talk with them and learn about what’s going on in their world. “Those targeted often feel alone, like no one understands the harm,” he says. “People tell you to ignore it but it is a pretty big deal so it’s important to acknowledge the hurtfulness and work with the school, if it’s a school issue, to address what’s happening.” Then look at where your kids are going online. “Pull up the apps and see what people are posting,” advises Patchin. “Have a conversation with your child about what the app is to learn more about it and get a sense of what he or she is facing on a day-to-day basis.” 

Please follow @YahooParenting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Have an interesting story to share about your family? E-mail us at YParenting (at)

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An Unprecedented Look at Bullying

Rarely do I come across a movie that deals with the topic of bullying in such a comprehensive manner as does the new feature film A Girl Like Her. It not only connects to the heart of the issue from the standpoint of the victim, but also from that of the bully herself, thereby providing a lens to this complex issue that is rarely depicted in the media. Early on in film, a father stands up at a school board meeting and says “We’ll never stop the bullying until we find some method of reaching the [bullies]… hurt people are the ones who hurt people.”

Bullying — a nationwide epidemic that has rarely been identified as such — is finally getting its moment on national stage. Coca-Cola used their Super Bowl ad to tackle cyber bullying; Saturday Night Live devoted two different sketches to bullying in a recent episode. Several recent highly-publicized bullying incidents across the country have only added to the feeling that we have reached a tipping point, and that the status quo can no longer hold. A national conversation on bullying has begun.

Societal change moves at a glacial pace, and too often the overall trends don’t translate easily to parents living in real time. It’s hard to take everything you’re hearing and apply it to your own life and your own children. In the same A Girl Like Her scene, one of the parents notes that it’s probably not the parents of either the bullies or the bullied kids who are attending the meeting — people who go to school board meetings have “good kids.” This is an excellent entryway into how you can talk to your kids.

The fact is this: Good kids can be bullies. Often they don’t see themselves that way. Even more often their parents don’t see them that way. When Avery Keller — the bully in A Girl Like Her — is finally called out on her behavior her mother says “My daughter is being thrown under the bus… over something that happens everywhere in schools across America.” She probably thinks that Avery is a “good kid” too, and to some extent, she’s right. Bullies aren’t inherently bad. But they’re acting out because of something lacking going on in their own lives. The goal of the film, and what should be our goal as well, is not to demonize bullies, but to understand them as human beings rather than monsters. Monsters cannot be explained, and therefore cannot be rehabilitated. Human beings have hopes and dreams and fears.

To defeat bullying, we as parents must not rush to punish, but to understand. If our child is being bullied, we must act, but that act should not be to destroy the underlying dynamic that has led to the bullying, but to transform it. If our child is a bully, punitive punishment further twists the underlying issues, rather than slashing through the Gordian Knot. We must also understand that things have changed. Bullying is not the same thing that it was even a generation ago. As director Amy Weber says in a blog post on The Huffington Post

Getting chased home from school, after you’d taken a variety of routes to dodge a beating, at least delivered you to your door step and the safety of your home. School may have been hell, but you had a reprieve. Now, the advent of the Internet and social media has left children prey to a 24-hour cycle of abuse that is far more insidious.

A Girl Like Her does not provide any easy answers, and it is correct in not doing so. But what it does do is take on the national conversation head-on, simply by suggesting that the cure for bullying is not eradication, but shifting our beliefs surrounding the issue. Change is absolutely possible, and that change begins at home. Hurt people do hurt people. But hurt people can be healed. Go see A Girl Like Her on March 27th. Bring your son or daughter. Begin the conversation.

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Students create lip dub video for anti-bullying campaign

A local high school is feeling reunited and empowered after a marketing project centered on common community message.

LaGrange High School students participated in a lip dub video, mouthing the words to songs for the purpose of defying cliques, differences and stereotypes.

“It was a unique project for our marketing students to have a performance task,” marketing teacher Dana Davis said.

How can we promote school pride?  How can we promote an anti-bullying message? Those were the questions students brainstormed about before coming up with the video idea.

Marketing students, approximately 80 in total, orchestrated the event and project. They got the school’s extracurricular groups on board.

Students from all grades and social groups, as well as the extracurricular activities’ groups, appeared in the video.

During the last class period of the day on Thursday, March 12, they filmed the video.

The school planned a pep rally for the end of the day, as a finale for the video and to celebrate the schools upcoming spring sports, as well as successful seasons for the school’s football and basketball teams.

“Our core message was we are all one,” Davis said. “We are proud of our school and there’s a place for everyone there,” Davis said. “We all have differences but we’re all one big family. We have to respect everybody’s differences. That was the main thing.”

Davis said she talked to two students who said they were in a great mood at the end of the day.

“We had a whole great weekend because we left school feeling happy,” Davis said.

Davis and a college intern from an outside agency worked to edit the video.

A week later, on Monday, all the school’s teachers showed the final product to their classes.

“We’re going to put it on our website,” Davis said. She said students and teachers have also been sharing the video with alumni.

The video includes hits like Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”, OutKast’s “Hey Ya”, Miley Cyrus’ “We Won’t Stop”, Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk”, “Megan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”, Lil Mama’s “Lipgloss” and more.

“We spent a couple days listening to songs in the classroom,” Davis said. “I told them learning isn’t always about what’s in the textbook. It’s about real life.”

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at 3:17 pm

Hire lawyer to get school to stop boy’s racial bullying

Dear Amy: My wife and I live in a predominantly Caucasian town. I am Caucasian and my wife is Asian. We are raising our 11-year-old Asian granddaughter. She is a wonderful child.

For some time she has been the victim of racial abuse from some kids, and one boy in particular. This boy has called her slurs in front of her classmates.

I have been to the school principal about this, and the boy has been reprimanded. His parents have been notified and he has even been given a two-day suspension.

The problem is that he just keeps it up. School officials have told us they have done everything within their power to stop this but can do no more. Is this behavior illegal? Is there any recourse that we might investigate to help put an end to this? — Frustrated Grampa

Dear Grampa: I don’t often suggest this, but I think you should call a lawyer. The school has a duty to provide a safe environment for your granddaughter (and other children). If this bullying is continuing, then I don’t believe the school has done everything in its power to make it stop. It has acknowledged that it happened by suspending the boy; evidently the child and his family aren’t affected by this consequence.

This also presents a learning opportunity for both children. A counselor should work with the offender to educate him about the impact of his actions. In addition to being told that his actions are wrong and unacceptable, he should understand why. He should acknowledge his actions and apologize to your granddaughter, ideally in front of the class.

You should support your granddaughter’s efforts to stand up for herself, but mentor her also to feel compassion and sorrow for a boy who is so ignorant and cruel. She should do this from a point of pride in herself and an awareness of her own strength.

Do what you can to connect your granddaughter with other Asian children, through specialized language, music or dance lessons.

Dear Amy: We are a group of six women who have been friends (coworkers first) for more than 20 years. Some are married, some with grandchildren, and all are retired/semiretired.

For the last few years, one member of our group has become nearly impossible to reach via phone (no computer/e-mail/cell), and when any of us leaves a voice mail, our calls are seldom returned, with either no reason or some vague or lame excuse (if any) as to why.

She claims her friends are very important, but we are finding that hard to believe. She makes plans with us for lunch, dinner, plays, etc., but often does not show up or calls to say she won’t be joining us. What can we do? — Upset Friends

Dear Upset: Your friend’s behavior is erratic, and I wonder if she is dealing with some health (or other) problems that she is shielding from you. She could be suffering from depression (or another health problem); she could be an alcoholic, have financial troubles, family worries or be in an abusive relationship. She might also have an unresolved personal issue with one or more in your group.

Rather than doubt your longtime friend’s sincerity or chastise her for her rudeness and unreliability, you should approach her in an attitude of concern. Her connection to your group might be an important lifeline for her. I hope you will extend it even further, to see whether you can learn more about her situation and, if possible, help.

Dear Amy: “Mom Who Cares” wrote about her depressed teenage daughter.

I could have written that letter myself a few short years ago when our daughter was in high school. Turns out, our daughter is gay but did not know how to tell us. She was afraid we wouldn’t love her anymore. She was certain she would lose all her friends. She was suffering with worry and was very depressed. — Another Mom Who Cares

Dear Mom: Your response may help other families recognize their own situation. Thank you.

Send questions via e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.