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NEW NOTICES!! (From the top - Scroll down page for older items/links.)
Note: This page contains items especially called to your attention, usually with comment, including some news items and research items which are also concurrently posted on those designated pages (clickables in the far left column).
This is the the first update of this site (this page) in the past few years. The plan is to provide regular such updates, going forward. So, just to start ...

(1) In the past year, Stuart Green has been a member of the legislatively created NJ Anti-Bullying Task Force (ABTF), appointed by the Governor. The ABTF was created in 2019, before the pandemic, and was then delayed in meeting for all of the pandemic years, first meeting in 2023 and issuing its final report in December 2023. Delibration, including testimony from the public, including from education organizations, took six months (a short time, but it was what the legislation determined).
Unfortunately, the final report was weak. That is, the report did a decent job in documenting the problem - the increase in bullying in the state (true, nationally as well), and the plight of students - but its recommendations were not meaningful and (therefore) would have little impact.
In particular, the task force members refused to endorse adding what's known as 'private cause of action' to the existing law (the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights or ABBR). Private cause of action is language which specifically allows an individual or organization to bring a lawsuit based on violation of the law and to seek relief. There is currently no such language in the ABBR. This has inhibited bullying-related lawsuits except in the most egregious cases.
The ABTF members also refused to address the problem of school principals having the ability to 'pre-determine' (or have discretion in determining) whether incidents reported to them are likely to be found to be HIB (harassment, intimidation or bullying), an ability only given to principals as a result of a recommendation by a previous task force (2016). From an advocate's point of view (mine) a major point of enacting the ABBR was to force principals to see and consider that children were being bullied. So that task force's recommendation was a reversal of progress. Yet the current task force did not remedy this error.
Also, the ABTF members refused to recommend any sanctions or disciplinary measures for school leaders (or schools) who do not adequately prioritize and address bullying (as evidenced by the type of egregious neglect that leads to lawsuits) or other measures (more of which are needed, for monitoring). The result is that presently in NJ we have the absurd situation in which there are penalties in law for parents of children who bully, but no penalties of any kind (other than the uncommon private lawsuit, and bad publicity) for school administrators and schools.
The ABTF members did recognize (and describe) the problem of social media, which is so big a factor in the distress of the current generation of students (e.g., according to the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, and many others, and I agree). But, again, the ABTF did not recommend a solution (at least in school): to recommend banning the use of cell phones by students during the school day.
So, overall, a weak report. I regard the outcome as a personal failure - despite the presence of task force members who I would have considered allies - e.g., from the LGBTQ community, and from religious minority communities - I was unable to convince them to take these measures, as above. 

(2) Dr Green continued to organize the annual conference on bullying and the law for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education of the NJ State Bar. Speakers at the last such conference Diane Sammons, a lawyer (from Nagel Rice) who successfully advocated for the Grossman family (in seeking justice and change after the bullying-related death of their daughter, Mallory), as well as the nationally known psychologist Maurice Elias (on school climate), and my usual co-presenter Michael Kaelber, Esq (with an update on bullying cases and law). Another such conference is in the planning stages.

(3) NJ Alliance for Social-Emotional Learning (www.SEL4NJ) has continued to develop, with leadership from its President - Elizabeth Warner - and support from its Board of Trustees (of whom I'm one). Over 2,000 individuals and organizations participate in the group's activities, including the annual SEL Day (a national event).

(4) Dr Green continues to provide expert witness services for lawyers advocating for children who have been bullied and their families.

More to follow here, as well as the intent to edit and update the other pages on the site.
SG 5/15/24



(1) SEL4NJ continues to develop. For information about the organization, our activities, etc., please visit the website ( and our affiliate national organization website ( The next 'large' meeting (usually at least 50 organizations represented) will be in February, date pending. If interested in participating (on behalf of your non-profit or governmental organizational) or supporting this good initiative and organization, contact Liz Warner at

(2) Disparities: The extent to which disparities, in our society and in our schools, forms the context for all social justice and educational activities, including those addressing bullying, and school culture/climate, etc. etc. is a significant challenge. There's a current lawsuit in NJ raising the issue of the extent to which schools are still segregated by race (and income), of course a national issues as well as in NJ. Other inequities, including in school disciplinary practices, support for vulnerable student populations (whether by race, income, gender identity and expression, etc. etc.), and including the extent to which populations of color (for example) are not well enough represented in school staffing/teaching/leadership, etc. continue to be major factors. There is discussion ongoing about whether an organization such as SEL4NJ, with its focus on strengthening SEL (social-emotional learning) in schools, should 'also' be doing active advocacy around equity issues, or whether it should simply support, in various ways, much more experienced and advocacy-focused organizations such as Advocates for Children of NJ (ACNJ). An example of such support is the fact that a member of the leadership team of SEL4NJ is a core advisor of ACNJ. In my own case, I'm an anti-bullying advocate, while also on the leadership team of SEL4NJ. Those of involved with SEL4NJ have no doubt that advancing the growth of SEL will benefit all students. But will those students who continue to be oppressed by disparities and discrimination benefit significantly enough without major improvement in those conditions?


(3) Anti-bullying: There are many promising and important developments specific to addressing bullying. One of the most important is the continuing effort of the Grossman family to achieve major changes in how schools address bullying by strengthening NJ anti-bullying law, by enacting 'Mallory's Law'. While there are education organizations, and advocates (including me) who do not feel the major elements of the proposed law will help or have a positive effect (e.g., a proposal to give law enforcement a larger role in addressing bullying at school), the great effort by this grieving family is keeping anti-bullying work front and center and absolutely right in expecting schools to do more, be more transparent, etc. etc. It would also help, of course, if schools had more support to do so. An alternative proposal I made to modify Mallory's Law by creating a state Institute and Ombudsman for bullying issues, and provide funding for it, would be helpful, for example. Mallory's Law (as it was initially proposed) sailed through state Senate but stalled in the Assembly. There is still a chance for its enactment in the 'lame duck' legislative session, but that ends January 13th. It would then have to be resubmitted and go through the entire process again. I still hope that a modified version of the law can succeed. One step to getting that done is at hand because of another promising development:

A law was passed creating a new state anti-bullying task force, with the mission of reviewing the existing law and proposing changes. This has been done once before, but definitely needs re-doing. I've been appointed by the Governor to the task force. Other members are still pending appointment, so that work has not yet begun. Once the work begins it will have a short timeframe (six months).

Meanwhile, very significant work on equities in NJ continues to be done by Attorney General Grewal. His recent directive on relations between law enforcement and the lgbtq community is a major step forward. One startingly advanced element is his requirement that law enforcement organizations actively reach out to lgbtq community organizations for collaborative work. This would also be a great requirement for schools.

Also very worth mentioning is the recently concluded work (and report) of NJ's transgender task force. An excellent report and proposals for addressing the needs, and inequities impacting them, of this very vulnerable population.

The AG's Directive, and the transgender task force report are both easily available via Google search or on NJ government websites. Worth reading!

A last related development is a proposed law creating a Youth Sports task force, to look at hazing issues, coaching, etc. and the inequities and problems in that domain, very bullying-related issues. That proposal is also currently on hold, but may (hopefully) moved forward at some point soon.


(4) Podcast, etc. - I have not had time to do The Bullying Podcast weekly, as planned. Also, the circularity of podcast success is motivationally challenging. That is, in order to achieve listenership, I understand it's critical to do the podcast regularly and frequently (eg, weekly or ... ). But for quite a while, at the beginning, listenership is very limited (I have two dozen 'followers'). So it requires a great deal of initial and continuing energy, deferring reward (listenership). That's the challenge. I did propose a blog to Psychology Today, feeling that might have more immediate wider impact, but the proposal wasn't accepted. So that's a bit of background. The motivation for getting the 'word' out is to promote an accurate and useful understanding of bullying as an institutional phenomenon, primarily a function of the culture and climate of the institutions (schools, workplaces, etc.) in which the bullying takes place. I think that understanding is growing (thankfully) but still needs promotion. - SG


(1) The next SEL4NJ (sel=social-emotional learning) meeting will be on Tuesday, Dec 17th at 1pm (to 4). If you (your organization) is interested in participating, please contact Liz Warner at

(2) We are still awaiting word on appointments to the new anti-bullying task force.

(3) A group of education organizations is working with the Grossman family toward developing and enacting Mallory's Law, which represents the latest good effort to further strengthen anti-bullying legislation and action in NJ.

(4) See below for info re accessing The Bullying Podcast on Soundcloud.

(5) The Research page on this site is being updated and will soon include titles and abstracts for bullying-related reseach through 2019.



There are an increasing number of legislative actions enacted or pending, bullying-related, see links below. There is a law establishing a youth sports task force, Mallory's Law pending in the Assembly, a law estabishing another anti-bullying task force, and a law introduced to Congress (national), Daniel's Law, based on the Staten Island tragedy of a bullying-related suicide. A common but tragic driver of such laws are bullying-related suicides. And in terms of another NJ task force (the third), the hope is that this one will be able to suggest measures that meaningfully strengthen the current ABR, which the most recent task force (the second), did not meaningfully do.

sports task force Assembly Bill 5379

Mallorys Law

antibullying task force 2019




So there are now several editions of The Bullying Podcast, with links below. The pace has been slower than planned - but aspiring to weekly. But still, there are several now! Feel free to listen:

Going to Soundcloud and searching for Stuart Green - bullying. The latest was done 6/30. To go directly to another recent one (6/22), click the link below or go to: . The topic of this one is about the institutional nature of bullying, with a comment on the soon-to-be-enacted Mallory's Law. For a Coalition statement about the law, see:

Coalition re Mallorys Law 6-19

6-22-19 podcast


6/8/19: (a short - 12 minutes - take on bullying as institutional neglect), and:

5/9/19: (a longer - 54 minute - conversation about bullying with social media influencer and public health star Doctor Mike).



The next meeting is on June 18th, Tuesday, 8:30am to noon, at NJ Principals and Supervisors Association headquarters, in Monroe. If you represent a school or educational organization, and want to attend (you should, really!), contact Liz Warner at .

5/10/19: Podcast!

So we just started The Bullying Podcast. (There's a related Instagram account, but most of what's on there is reproduced on this site, so if you're here already ... ). The point of the Podcast is to emphasize key points about bullying, and counter the still persistent amount of misleading, inaccurate information about bullying out there (prime example being the notion that whether one is bullied is entirely a matter of the target's ('victims's') individual behavior, not the responsibility of the school or other adults to prevent and address, and that therefore the 'solution' to being bullied is for the kid being hurt to behave differently (eg, by befriending the kids harming you, or 'be less sensitive'). There are now two episodes of the podcast out on Soundcloud, with more to come, weekly if I can manage it. Most episodes will feature a guest, so that the podcast is more of a conversation than a lecture. The latest guest is Doctor Mike, who happens to be a colleague, but is also a social media influencer with (I believe) nine million 'followers' on YouTube, Instagram, etc. He uses his media presence to be a great public health advocate. And he was willing to have a conversation about bullying. That edition of the podcast is posted below. SG

Bullying podcast 5.8.19

5/6/19: Update

The NJ Star Ledger just published a column a colleague (Rich Frost, of Education Law Center) and I wrote to argue for a change in a misguided NJ law requiring parents to 'opt-in' (signed consent) in order for students to be surveyed about their experiences with a host of important issues, including bullying. Read the column, then (if you agree) contact your legislator!

NJ Star Ledger column 5-3-19

4/30/19: Updates

-The latest large meeting (of organizations) of SEL4NJ took place yesterday (4/29), with the next one planned for June 18th. The meeting was very successful - 40+ organizations represented, and very good task force reports presented (work in progress). Important points made about approaching SEL (social emotional learning, broadly construed, e.g., to include school culture and climate, addressing bullying, the 'soft skills' employers seek in employees, equity as a lens for SEL development, required policy, school support and implementation), and important related discussion, e.g., about whether it is reasonable or wise to consider and present SEL strength as a potent factor in suicide prevention, or not. Next steps were laid out, and the six task forces will continue their very active work. For all info regarding SEL4NJ, visit the website, (and the national website of which we are an affiliate,, and contact our coordinator, Liz Warner (

-Here is the full article (in Word) of the interview I did for Atlantic Health System, marking the 20th year since the tragedy at Columbine (4/20/99).

Atlantic bullying article SG 4-29-19

-Stuart Green has just started an anti-bullying advocacy podcast (The Bullying Podcast) and a related Instagram account. The point is to emphasize key points about bullying, and counter the still persistent amount of misleading, inaccurate information about bullying out there (prime example being the notion that whether one is bullied is entirely a matter of the target's ('victims's') individual behavior, not the responsibility of the school or other adults to prevent and address, and that therefore the 'solution' to being bullied is for the kid being hurt to behave differently (eg, by befriending the kids harming you, or 'be less sensitive'). The first episode of the podcast is out now, on Soundcloud, with plan to post a new episode weekly, on Fridays. Look for it! SG


3/22/19: Updates

SEL4NJ (see 10/16 note below) is well up and running. Over 45 NJ non-profits and government organizations participated in recent meetings. The next large meeting is coming up on April 29th
. For information, about the meeting and much more, please visit the SEL4 website ( and The current focus is to create 'landscape analyses' of key sel-impact areas in NJ. The concept is to pull together in one place all relevant data and descriptions of our issues of concern, identify gaps in the data, and then gaps in addressing the issues, in order to plan action steps. This work is being done by task forces (five). This includes an educational equity task force, which I'm co-chairing. Initial reports will be presented at the 4/29 meeting. If you (representing an organization) are interested in attending the meeting and your organization wants to participate in this critical work, please contact leadership team spokesperson (and key leader) Liz Warner at

Resources: here are some key materials, in one place, in particular a checklist I created, and which anyone can use to see if schools are doing enough to prevent and address bullying (and strengthen school culture and climate, the major factor underlying anti-bullying efficacy). Also, some disability-related materials. In particular, I'm posting a disability-law specific document by Nancy Willard, a lawyer and advocate in Oregon. Nancy is one of the most important anti-bullying advocates in the U.S., and has been for a long time (20+ years). She authored the earliest and one of the best books about cyberbullying (Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats), and is still very active in writing and publishing important works. She runs the Embrace Civility national listserve. I'm posting what is essentially a sample of her work. You can find her publications (current and coming) on Amazon, under her name. Another posting is from (an important disability-focused organization); another from PACER, another important anti-bullying organization; a posting from the government site; a federal office on civil rights complaint form (disability- or bias-based bullying is a civil rights violation, depending on severity; two legal postings which make clear that parents of bullied children are entitled to information about the matters affecting their child even though schools tend to use federal confidentiality statutes to hold back such important info. The last posting is a current cause we're pursuing - to obtain a change in the current negative-impact NJ law which restricts surveying of students about their important experiences (explained elsewhere on the site, below).
2017 FERPA guidance Wachter Letter
FERPA and discipline info case August 2017
Students with Disabilities Willard
Anti-Bullying Checklist v4 SGreen
Opt-In Survey Consent Law One Pager


10/16/18: Updates

NJ School Health and Climate Coalition has now transitioned into SEL4NJ, an affiliate of SEL4US, a national initiative to promote social and emotional learning in all K-12 schools. Participants in NJSHACC, about 40 of whom, representing a wide range of non-profit and governmental organizations, attended the 9/6 meeting, and others who couldn't attend, will be asked to volunteer to participate in various SEL4NJ task forces, so we can move this important work forward. Developing and providing key resources and initiatives is the goal. The next SEL4NJ meeting will be announced shortly.
A multi-organization effort will soon address the important issue of changing NJ's current opt-in consent law, a significant barrier to collecting accurate information from students about the functioning of NJ schools. More information to follow soon.
8/31/18: Updates

The next meeting of NJSHACC (NJ School Health and Climate Coalition) is next week Thursday 9/6 from 2pm to 4 at Junior Achievement in Edison. If you represent an organization and are interested in attending and have not received an invitation, please contact Liz Warner at or call 973-993-1160.

The New Jersey School Health and Climate Coalition is a state-wide coalition with membership from a broad spectrum of education, government, community non-profit, and health provider organizations. The organizations share a unified concern for the well-being of children and success of schools through integration and coordination of multiple perspectives.

The annual "Bullying and the Law" conference I organize for ICLE (Institute for Continuing Legal Education) took place August 7th 2018 at NJ Law Center in New Brunswick. Here are the presenters and topics:
Bullying and the Law, NJ Law Center, New Brunswick, NJ

Welcome – Stuart Green, DMH, LCSW

Workplace Bullying - Senator Linda Greenstein

Update on Cases and Rulings – Michael Kaelber, Esq.

NJ Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights: Fundamentals, Changes, and Challenges–Elizabeth Athos, Esq.

The Case for a Private Cause of Action in Bullying Cases – Robert Thurston, Esq.

Steps to a Settlement – Jeffrey Youngman, Esq.

Balancing School Safety and Student Privacy – Mary Moore, Esq.

Disparities in School Resources and Discipline – Deanna Christian, Esq.

What Schools Ought to Do About Bullying: An Expert Witness Perspective – Dr. Green

Although the conference is primarily intended for lawyers, non-lawyers may be invited. The next one will be in August 2019. If interested, contact me at the Coalition email: Each of the conferences produces a book with all of the presentation Powerpoints and related articles/materials. To obtain a copy (there is a cost), contact Lisa Spiegal at ICLE: or call 732-214-8554.

Recent article of interest: BARR model SEL.
An important new book, How Schools Work, by Arne Duncan, federal education secretary under President Obama. The book is a scathing indictment of the US education system, made all the more powerful given the author of the critique. The book is also yet another endorsement of the positive power of an educational approach which focuses on intensive student support, especially those most vulnerable, including prioritizing and addressing the social and emotional status of each student.
(Previous update: 6/18):

The bi-annual Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) from the CDC just came out (last week) and, unsurprisingly, NJ's response rate was too low (below 60%) for NJ-specific statistics to be valid/available. It is unsurprising because NJ has a terrible law which requires signed parental consent for youth to be surveyed about any number of highly important and bullying-relevant issues. This 'affirmative consent' law, as any researcher knows, introduces 'selection bias' to all attempts at meaningful youth data collection, and limits survey responses, as we note. The NJ legislature had passed a law ending affirmative consent and establising the more normal and effective 'passive consent', but the law was vetoed by then-Governor Christie. The current Governor is likely, I believe, to sign such legislation, but the legislation has to once again be passed and make it to his desk. Hopefully, this is happening ... Generally, the YRBS data (Google it for details) indicates that bullying remains a significant (and perhaps rising) national problem.
2/16/18: School Shootings

After another terrible act of violence - this time this week's shooting in a Florida school - much media discussion is focused on America's problem with easy access to guns. That is indeed a critical factor and perhaps the single most important factor. But for a broader, well-reasoned and evidence-based analysis of the problem, the best discussion I've seen is from UCLA's always-valuable School Mental Health Project, directed by the psychologist Howard Adelman. Note their emphasis on school culture and climate, and bullying. Here is their analysis:


(material below is from the School Mental Health Project at UCLA, distributed via email by Prof. Howard Adelman, 2/16/18)

 About School Shootings

Once again, a mass shooting at a school. Once again, the country mourns and expresses condolences. Once again, everyone asks why these horrific incidents happen and what to do about them. As with other problems confronting schools, violence using guns is a major societal (and political) problem. Schools can’t solve the problem alone, but they must play a significant role in addressing the problem and its impact.

Here’s what that means.

(1) Prevention

(A) Going Beyond Security Measures. Schools must implement prevention efforts that go

beyond enhancing security. Schools can do more to help young people develop into

healthy, nonviolent, and positive contributors to society. In particular, schools can

increase efforts to promote positive social and emotional development and address

threats to such development that foster psychological reactance. There is a movement for

a greater focus on social and emotional learning. But too little attention is being paid to

reducing factors that undermine positive mental health. Schools need to examine the way

vulnerable students are inappropriately treated each day at school in classrooms and

school-wide by staff and peers. And then they must act to turn the situation around.

(B) Providing Special Supports as Soon as a Problem Appears. Schools have a range of

student and learning supports. However, these supports are not well designed and

developed to respond quickly and effectively in situations where there are many students

who teachers readily identify as beginning to manifest behavior, learning, and emotional


(C) Ensuring that Students with Severe and Chronic Problems are Connected with Effective

Help. Few schools can provide intensive help, so they need to develop strong connections

with community resources to facilitate appropriate referrals and follow-through.

(2) Aftermath Interventions for Students and Staff in all schools. See the following resources:

>Talking to kids about tragedies (such as shootings and terror attacks) in the news

>Talking to kids about school shootings (from the American Psychology Assoc.)

In our Center's Resource Aid Packet on

>Responding to Crises at a School


>>Crisis Response Checklist

>>Psychological First Aid

>>Major Facets of Crisis Response

>>Responding to a Crisis: A Few General Principles

>>The School's Role in Addressing Psychological Reactions to Loss

>>Planning and Action for the MH Needs of Students and School Staff after a Major Disaster

From more, go to

>the Center's homepage ( ) and click on the icon

Responding to a Crisis

>the Quick Find on Crisis Prevention and Response –

And here’s some facets of school shootings to ponder:

The following are excerpts from a Feb 15th article by two psychiatrists; online at

Eric Madfis, an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Washington,

Tacoma, argues that there's a tendency for the mass media to portray school shootings as pointless, random and motiveless tragedies when they are not. Instead, [he] argues in his investigation entitled, "In Search of Meaning: Are School Rampage Shootings Random and Senseless Violence?" that clear patterns emerge.1  ... Eric Madfis dismisses the popular depiction of mass shootings as the result of someone out of the blue "snapping" and committing violence on a spur-of-the-moment. Extensive planning indicates that rampage attacks serve purposes. These also fall into clear repeated patterns, including vengeance, infamy seeking, a need for a sense of macho power, often with a background of long-term internal discord and interpersonal defeats. ... ... a team of academics from Northwestern University, led by Adam Robert Pah and Luis Amaral conclude that increasing uncertainty in the school-to-work transition contributes to school shootings.2 ...While the majority of American school gun violence generally occurs in urban areas, rampage school shootings are much more likely to occur at suburban and rural schools in less populated, less diverse communities, located in more socially and politically conservative neighborhoods. ...

The humiliating closeness and pressure to conform in small towns might therefore be implicated, particularly as attacks tend to take place where the school staff and student body are intolerant of differences, when issues of bullying and marginalization are not addressed by the school culture.

Another possible emerging pattern is an educational environment of punitive zero tolerance which might discourage students from confiding in trusted adults when they hear crucial information about impending threats of violence. ...

That there is something about school culture which needs addressing is further hinted at by a study entitled, "Alone and adrift: The association between mass school shootings, school size, and student support", investigating twenty-two mass school shooting incidents between

January 1995 and June 2014 3   ...

The authors, psychologists Abigail Baird, Emma Roellke and Debra Zeifman from Vassar

College conclude that transitioning from a smaller, more supportive school to a larger, more anonymous school may exacerbate pre-existing psychological difficulties among potential school shooters.

Eric Madfis argues that the huge media attention school rampage attacks inevitably attract, distorts public perception over the true likelihood of these events. For example, he quotes statistics that compared to their homes and the streets, in the USA, schools remain the safest places for young people. ...

1 Madfis, E. (2017). In search of meaning: Are school rampage shootings random and senseless violence? The

Journal of Psychology, 151, 21-35. DOI: 10.1080/00223980.2016.1196161

2 Pah, A. R., Hagan, J., Jennings, A. L., Jain, A., Albrecht, K., Hockenberry, A. J., & Amaral, L. A. N. (2017).

Economic insecurity and the rise in gun violence at US schools. Nature Human Behaviour, 1. DOI:


3 Baird, A.A., Roellke, E.V., & Zeifman, D.M. (2017). Alone and adrift: The association between mass school

shootings, school size, and student support. The Social Science Journal, 54, 261-270.

Relatedly, here’s an excerpt from an early report from the American Psychological Association’s

Commission on Violence and Youth that sought to focus attention on what is and what needs to be done related to anti-violence interventions.

The urgent need to prevent further destruction of young lives by violence has led to a proliferation of anti-violence interventions for children, youth, and their families. Many of these interventions were created primarily for service delivery, without scientific underpinnings or plans for outcome evaluation. Some are targeted at perpetrators of violence, others at their victims, and still others at bystanders who may play a pivotal role in condoning or preventing violence. Some are preventive, and others seek to ameliorate the damage already done. Some are targeted toward changing individuals, and others seek to change the systems and settings that influence behavior, such as the family, peers, schools, and community. Those programs that have been evaluated and show promise include interventions aimed at reducing risk factors or at strengthening families and children to help them resist the effects of detrimental life circumstances.... Effective intervention programs share two primary characteristics: (a) they draw on the understanding of developmental and sociocultural risk factors leading to antisocial behavior,- and (b) they use theory-based intervention strategies with known efficacy in changing behavior, tested program designs, and validated, objective measurement techniques to assess outcomes. Other key criteria that describe the most promising intervention approaches include: They begin as early as possible to interrupt the "trajectory toward violence." Evidence indicates that intervention early in childhood can reduce aggressive and antisocial behavior and can also affect certain risk factors associated with antisocial behavior, such as low educational achievement and inconsistent parenting practices....

Finally, a Note of Caution

Not Another Ad Hoc Set of School Interventions

It is unlikely that a safe and nurturing learning environment will emerge simply by developing a better violence prevention program. Such programs can help, but ultimately what a school needs is a unified, comprehensive, and equitable system for addressing barriers to development and learning and re-engaging disconnected students. The time has come for schools to move away from stand-alone programs for addressing problems such as violence, bullying, substance abuse, and so forth. Just adding another program worsens the marginalized, fragmented, and piecemeal status of student and learning supports. Rather than pursuing yet another discrete program, it is essential to use each concern that rises to a high policy level as an opportunity to catalyze and leverage systemic change. The aim should be to take another step toward transforming how schools go about ensuring that all students are safe, develop fully, and have an equal opportunity to succeed at school and beyond. It is time to embed advocacy for discrete programs into advocacy for unifying and developing a comprehensive and equitable system. Addressing barriers to learning and teaching and re-engaging disconnected students is a school improvement imperative. Developing and implementing a unified, comprehensive, and equitable system of student and learning supports is the next evolutionary stage in meeting this imperative.

(For more on this, see

>Violence Prevention and Safe Schools – )



Please see below for notice of an upcoming meeting of NJ School Health and Climate Coalition. If you represent an organization and are interested in attending and have not received an invitation, please see the notice below and reach out. - Stuart Green

Dear Colleague,

Please join us for the first meeting of 2018 of the New Jersey School Health and Climate Coalition (NJSHACC). 


The New Jersey School Health and Climate Coalition is a state-wide coalition with membership from a broad spectrum of education, government, community non-profit, and health provider organizations. The organizations share a unified concern for the well-being of children and success of schools through integration and coordination of multiple perspectives.




Date:         Thursday February 22, 2018

Time:         2:30pm - 4:30pm

Place:         Principals and Supervisors Association (many thanks to PSA which has very generously offered to host this meeting!)

Room:        Rooms E/F

Address:     12 Centre Drive, Monroe Township, NJ 08831

Agenda:      See below


Please click here to RSVP or via return e-mail. Thank you!


Since the founding of the New Jersey School Health and Climate Coalition in 2013, the Coalition has:

-        Created a resource: Successful School Climate Guidelines

-        Served as an advisory body for the New Jersey School Health Scan.

-        Worked with Sustainable New Jersey for Schools to create social-emotional and school climate actions for participating NJS4S schools. 

-        Launched the Healthy Schools/ Healthy Students Conference Series.

- August 2016 - School Climate and Bullying: Where are We Now/ Where Do We need to Be

- January 2017 - Mental Health and School Success: Building School Capacity to Meet Student Needs

-  June 2017 – Fitness as Fuel for Educational Success: Obesity, Nutrition, Physical Fitness and Student Behavior and Learning


At the meeting on February 22 we hope to welcome new faces, continue the work of breaking down silos, and continue to speak with a unified voice in order to have greater impact. A key focus of the meeting will be to begin work on key policy recommendations to the NJ DOE. Below is a very brief agenda. 


Brief Agenda

2:30pm               Arrival, coffee and networking - please note the meeting will start promptly at 2:45pmWelcome and introductions 

Up-date on recent developments in state: SEL, NJ DOE, ESSA, Character Development, School Climate, School Health
Begin work on key policy recommendations  
4:15pm Departure and networking – please note we must all be out of the building by 4:30pm.


Please feel free to reach out of you have any questions or require further information. 


On behalf of the New Jersey School Health and Climate Coalition leadership team*, we hope to see you on February 22nd!


All the very best,




NJSHACC Leadership Team*

-      Maurice Elias, Ph.D.

-      Stuart Green, DMH, LCSW 

-      Patricia Heindel, Ph.D.

-      William Trusheim, Ed.D.

-      Liz Warner 



Elizabeth Hansen Warner

Director, K-12 Education Initiatives

Co-Director,  School Culture and Climate Initiative: a partnership of United Way and College of Saint Elizabeth 

New Jersey School Health and Climate Coalition (NJSHACC)

United Way of Northern New Jersey

P.O. Box 1948, Morristown, NJ 07962

Ph: 973.993.1160, x107 I Fax: 973.993.5807


11/22/17: UPDATE

1. The flow of calls to the hotline from parents and schools has definitely decreased over the past year, going from an average of one a day (on some days three) - for the preceding 15-16 years - to only a few (at most) per week in the past year, to present. Hopefully, this reflects the increased, sustained attention to the problem, parents' empowerment by the attention and the law, and an enhanced school response. At the same time, tragedies - especially suicide in which bullying is a factor - have continued to occur. And the broader factors which both underpin and reflect inadequately addressed bullying persist.

2. One of those factors is racially-based institutional neglect and mistreatment. Just this week, for example, a new report by the Center for American Progress analyzing data from the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health's 2016 National Survey of Children's Health, well described by an article in the Washington Post reprinted by the Star Ledger (11/20/17, p21), notes (headline): "250 preschoolers suspended or expelled every school day: Analysis of national data finds significant racial disparity in discipline". A Center analyst (Rasheed Malik) is quoted in the article: "These disciplinary rates are particularly shocking since suspending and expelling young children has not been shown to produce positive behavioral results. Quite the opposite, such practices can often intensify the challenges faced by these children and their parents, and have even been discussed as the first state in a pre-school-to-prison-pipeline." It will surprise no one knowledgeable to learn that it is African-American children who are very disproportionately suspended and expelled, compared to white children. This negative school focus on black children is completely consistent with other research (eg, Anne Gregory's, at Rutgers, as one example) showing that school disciplinary measures (eg, 'zero tolerance' approaches) generally overfocus on children of color.

3. NJ, in particular, has a racial problem in its schools, reflecting in part the de facto segregated nature - and related resource disparities - of NJ communities across the state, but also reflecting the treatment of children of color even in schools which are racially diverse (eg, see the article by Jessica Mazzola in today's - 11/22/17 - NJ Star Ledger about the South Orange Maplewood School District).

4. Of course these are national issues. Nationwide - for just one example - there is a lack of diversity in the teacher population, so that many of our diverse students do not see themselves reflected in their school and classroom leaders.

5. I'm influenced ih thinking about these issues right now by the important voice of Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Atlantic magazine essayist, MacArthur Fellowship and National Book Award winner. Reading his essays, and books - "The Beautiful Struggle" "Between the World and Me" and "We Were Eight Years in Power", is a powerful call to action (and understanding, at least) for addressing disparities in our country, certainly including in our schools (though he does not specifically address K-12 education).

6. Planning for the next series of RWJF-United Way school health conferences is underway. The next conference (date not yet set) will focus on early childhood issues.

7. Planning for the next 'bullying and the law' conference, sponsored by NJ State Bar Association's Institute for Continuing Legal Education and held at the NJ Law Center, is also underway. The conference will take place on Tuesday, August 7th. A mix of lawyers and non-lawyer anti-bullying specialists will present, as usual, on topics such as inadequately addressed bullying as institutional child neglect, on school climate, on peer support, on the basics of what schools should do to prevent and address bullying, and our usual review/update on cases and law, among other topics.

8. I continue to do talks (most recently at Bayer corporation, for parent employees), answer the hotline calls (fewer but continuing), and provide expert witness services to lawyers. In development is either a new podcast or a new radio show (the previous show on 920TheVoice - ended two years ago).

______________________________________________________________________ - Dr Green


I'm assuming that all anti-bullying advocates would want to register opposition to the proposed new education law. See the attached document for a dramatically phrased but reasonably accurate summary of some of what the proposed law would do, and a specific instruction for how to try to block it (by calling congress). In short, the new law - which would repeal the 1965 civil-rights-based education law - would reduce funding for low-income public schools, support voucher and home-school options, and have negative impacts on vulnerable children in multiple ways (see the document), including in regard to bullying. SG

House Bill 610


See attached news article (HealthDay) re study just published in Journal of Educational Research on link between bullying and academic performance. The study simply reinforces what an already existing line of research - and advocacy understanding - supports: that addressing bullying is critical to improving academics. I'll post a copy of the study itself shortly ...

bullying and academics 1-17

1/20/17: Update

(1) RWJF Conference: Yesterday (1/19) we held the second of this year's (academic year, so July-June), meetings on school health, hosted and sponsored by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The meeting focused on youth mental health, and was attended by over 100 leaders and senior staff of non-profit organizations, government agencies and schools. See the attached document for notice of the series and yesterday's meeting agenda. The third meeting, date to be announced, will be held in June and focus on childhood obesity, nutrition and the physical environment (of schools and communities). Information, including for registration, will be posted soon.RWJF conf 1-19-17 Agenda Final

(2) NJSHACC: The planning team for the RWJF meetings is the executive team for New Jersey School Health and Climate Coalition. The team members are Stuart Green (Atlantic Health System, and NJ Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention), Maurice Elias (Rutgers University, Department of Psychology), Patricia Heindel (College of St. Elizabeth), William Trusheim (NJ Alliance for Social Emotional and Character Development) and a colleague and consultant Millicent Kellner (Trustee of NJASECD). The primary function of NJSHACC is to bring ensure that all NJ schools are aware of and have access to the resources and organizations which promote school health, with an emphasis on school culture and climate. To that end, the Coalition brings multiple organizations and perspectives 'to the table'. The next - and open - meeting of the Coalition is March 10, at College of St. Elizabeth, in Madison. For more information, contact Liz Warner of United Way NNJ at


11/21/16: Update

It has been a difficult two weeks since the election, adjusting to what has to be - for anti-bullying advocates - a huge adjustment to the reality that top leaders of the U.S. government hold views which can be reasonably characterized as racially biased, religiously bigoted, anti-gay and misogynist. Having said that, the fact is that a huge percentage of the population (not the majority nationally, but the majority of voters in a majority of states) found these views acceptable, even if not preferred, even if grudgingly acceptable in exchange for feeling hopeful about having their economic issues addressed. The overall view is really not as simple as Hillary's 'basket of deplorables' comment indicated. That complexity has been further illustrated by post-election reporting and analysis. For me, a key example is the article in today's Times about a heavily minority populated district in Wisconsin in which a huge percentage of eligible voters did not vote. According to the Times article, a common sentiment was a lack of motivation to vote because of disappointment with both candidates and political parties, and even a perceived lack of progress (in terms of an improvemed quality of life in that district) under Obama. As noted above - complex. My own reaction to the current reality was initially depression. In searching for a return to optimism, I've had two helpful perspectives. One - similar to the feeling of the voters described in the Times article on the Wisconsin minority district - is to remind myself that the current situation - the leadership and what their success says about America - is not that much of a sea change from where the country has been at numerous times in our past. After all, this is a country that accepted slavery, that interred American citizens who were also Japanese, that continues to have all kinds of problems adequately supporting populations of difference and need. The other is to find positivity in the work which continues to go on, even in this environment. In that regard, I highly recommend becoming familiar with the work of Bill Strickland, a (well-deserved) MacArthur 'genius' (by reading his book, described below).

In regard to the above, I'm attaching below, two items I recently wrote and distributed to colleagues, and an item which appeared in my email today from the publication 'Education Week'.

SG post-election note 11-16

Education Week 11-21-16 on climate post-election

Strickland message 11-16


(1) There is a new coalition of advocacy organizations, 'Coalition for an Effective ABR' (anti-bullying bill of rights) whose participants include NJ Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention. Education Law Center, GLSEN Northern NJ, Innisfree Foundation, SPAN, Disability Rights NJ, Garden State Equality, ACNJ and others (to be fully listed shortly - apologies for those not named in this note). Contributors to this Coalition collectively endorsed a statement commenting on the recommendations made to the NJ Board of Education by the Commissioner of the DOE (based upon the final report of the Anti-Bullying Task Force), critiquing the recommendations and making new recommendations. That testimony Programs to Support Student Devt Comments FINAL was submitted to the BOE at its hearing on 10/5 in Trenton. Along with the collectively endorsed document, individuals representing Coalition organizations provided individual testimony. Here is a copy of the testimony submitted by Stuart Green. Green 10-5-16 Testimony State BOE re HIB regulations . The Coalition participants agreed to develop further recommendations as advisement to BOE (and DOE), and to pursue an ongoing advocacy-based advisory role toward more effective addressing of HIB by BOE and DOE (and NJ schools, generally).

(2) Planning is underway for the second of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-hosted school health conferences, focusing on mental health, to take place in December (12/16, at RWJF in Princeton). More information to follow shortly.


The conference co-organized with United Way Northern NJ and sponsored by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is taking place at RWJF headquarters in Princeton on August 15th. It's a full-day conference on school climate and bullying, featuring keynote talks by Maurice Elias and Anne Gregory (both of Rutgers), and a number of other shorter 'TEDtalks' a number of experts on important bullying-related issues, and including a panel of schools presenting on the challenges of addressing the issues. The conference is free, includes breakfast and lunch, and is an important gathering of state leaders and organizations working to improve school health. The 8/15 conference is part of a series of school health conferences we've organized, which RWJF is sponsoring (and hosting). Details on the other conferences to follow. Please see the attached conference notices. Registration information is on the invite. If you represent an organization which addresses bullying, or school health more broadly, you're invited to register. Some seats are still available, as of this date.

School Climate and Bullying Conference 8-15-16

RWJF School Health Conferences 2016-2017

Stuart Green is also presenting a talk on bullying ('What Schools Should Do') at the conference on domestic violence and sexual violence ('A Safer Garden State') organized by NJ Coalition Against Sexual Assault, also in Princeton, on September 15th. See attached notice.

NJCASA conference 9-15-16

We have also organized, with Education Law Center, a group of organizations planning to provide testimony at the state Board of Education hearing in September, about changes in bullying law and regulations, responding to the Anti-Bullying Task Force recommendations. See below (the note of 5/17/16) for more information.

No news yet about the new radio show.


Note (5/31/16)

radio show samples

radio show samples

Above are two examples of the radio show on bullying Dr Green hosted in 2014-2015 on 920TheVoice in NJ. Doing the show in Princeton proved to be too difficult on a regular basis, so the show is pending a re-start at a closer site. If any visitors/organizations are interested in sponsoring the show, please contact Dr Green ( or call 908-522-2581).


We are partnering with United Way of Northern NJ and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to present a much-needed statewide conference on bullying, tentatively scheduled for August 15th. The broad theme of the conference is "Bullying in NJ: Where We Are Now." We will ideally have participation from all of the key stakeholder organizations, including legislators and media. Given that the state's anti-bullying task force has finished its work, and DOE has now made suggestions based on the task force's work to the state BOE, and legislators are contemplating new legislation, it's the right time to bring together those interested and influential. More information to follow.
Overall, the sense at this point is that there is much more work to be done. Dr Green recently published an op-ed in the Star Ledger which captures this sense: Star Ledger Op-Ed - Dr Green 4-16
You may want to take a look at the Task Force final report, and the Commissioner's submission to the state BOE. Both are attached here. If you're interested in submitting testimony (and perhaps testifying) to BOE for its upcoming September 2nd meeting, here's the relevant information. Task Force Report 1-16
BOE recommendations


This summer's 5th annual 'bullying and the law' conference at NJ Law Center in New Brunswick, which Dr Green organizes for ICLE (Institute for Continuing Legal Education), will be on Thursday, August 11th. This year's full-day conference at the Law Center will be focused on hazing. While NJ cases in the past year or so (Sayreville, South Orange) have drawn attention, the unfortunate fact is hazing-related tragedies continuously occur, all over the country (and the world). The problem merits attention. As usual, we have a great line-up of guests. A highlighted guest will be Dr Richard Labbe, Superintendent of the Sayreville School District. Dr Labbe deserves highlighting for the groundbreaking urgency and strength of his response to the reports of hazing in the district. For the framing talk (by a non-lawyer) we've invited Dr Susan Lipkins, a psychologist and author of "Preventing Hazing", while the legal aspects will be covered by attorneys Jeffrey Youngman, Jerry Tanenbaum, Mike Kaelber, Luanne Peterpaul, and Steve Goodell. Mr Goodell's presentation will be especially interesting, as he's the legal advisor to the NJ State Interscholastic Athletics Association. The conference will be well-publicized to NJ lawyers by ICLE, as usual, and we expect great interaction as always between presenters and an audience with its own legal expertise. If you'd like more information about attending the conference, including non-lawyers, contact Lisa Spiegel of ICLE a lspiegel@njsba, or the Coalition, at 908-522-2581 /
The Coalition hotline (908-522-2581) continues to get calls daily (on average) from parents, and occasionally from school staff seeking talks or other support.
We continue to do talks on bullying, eg in the past few months, for the state's coordinators of services for children with special needs, and another at the cultural diversity conference organized by SPAN (Statewide Parents Advocacy Network). Most calls for talks come from schools, typically which have no budget allocated to support the effort. If it's convenient and local, we do them, but usually suggest the school staff making the request access their school's own anti-bullying specialist, or the district's anti-bullying coordinator. The feedback we get is that there still seems to be some lack of coordination and connection between those specialists and the wider school community and staff.
Now that the Anti-Bullying Task Force has issued its final report, and given the continuing problems we see, it seems the right time to have a conference to bring together everyone concerned about the problem, including organizations, legislators, media, community. The conference is tentatively titled "Bullying in NJ: Where We Are Now." Rather than organize it alone, as in the past, we've turned to other partner organizations to help bring all the participants together. The hope is to have the conference and meeting in the fall (2016). More details to follow.
Dr Green continues to do expert witness work for lawyers advocating for families of children who have been hurt.
Partly in response to the Task Force report, which recommended some good changes (focusing the law's definition of bullying on a pattern of negative acts) and less good ones (giving school leaders more 'discretion' about looking into reported bullying), the Star Ledger (usually a great ally in the cause) wrote an editorial focusing too much on flaws in the law (easily acknowledged, even by advocates) and not enough on the law's virtues (which advocates appreciate). So we sent in an OpEd to the Star Ledger. If they don't print it, we'll reproduce it here. Waiting to see ...
Good things still emerging and forthcoming from the state's campaigns and initiatives: Garden State Equality's Teach&Affirm (a bit on hold, pending some reorganization at GSE), Center for Supportive School's Campaign Connect, and United Way Northern NJ's Youth Empowerment Alliance, School Support Network and Culture and Climate Coalition, as well as 'older' organizations such as NJ Alliance for Social Emotional and Character Development, Rutger's Inclusive Schools Climate Initiative, and (even older) NJ Child Assault Prevention's Bullying Prevention Program, and others (apologies to those not mentioned - yet). We are supportive of all, and actively involved in some. Lots more work still to do ...


9/15: A few items ...

Green w Ansary Elias Greene article Bullying 2015

Weight and bullying Times 7-7-15

Pine Bush District anti-semitic bullying 6-15


There is a new state anti-bullying campaign, in which we are participating. The campaign is led by Garden State Equality. It is called Teach and Affirm Students NJ ( See the Trenton Times editorial below for a brief description. There are other good, ongoing, state anti-bullying initiatives, which we have noted and affirmed before, in which we also participate (for example, Center for Supportive School’s Campaign Connect, and United Way Northern NJ’s Culture and Climate Coalition and Supportive Schools Network). But this one is a potential game-changer. That’s because this campaign is the first meaningful step toward creating a state-wide community-based assessment and intervention system for evaluating schools and strengthening school climate. That’s a goal we’ve been pursuing for a long time, and which NJ desperately needs.

As we’ve written before – see the Coalition press release, below (issued last year, but little has changed) – NJ’s existing systems for assessing school violence  – are completely inadequate. That’s because the systems are based only on administrator self-report and self-evaluation, and there isn’t an adequate response when schools inadequately address violence issues. But Garden State Equality, which itself has huge membership, including in every area of the state, along with partners such as GLSEN, ACLU, Hi-TOPS and other organizations, has the ability to create a state-wide community-based system capable of assessing and evaluating the actual quality of school efforts to prevent and address bullying, including how well the school supports and protects vulnerable students.


The most interesting feature of the campaign involves the particular elements of school culture/climate and functioning on which schools will be evaluated. One could easily envision a checklist pages long, with fifty or more elements which ought to be in place in every school. In fact, the latest Coalition document (see below) is just that long. And United Way’s CCC, similarly, has an excellent multi-page document (see below) about school climate. And there are survey instruments specifically designed for assessment (such as National School Climate Center’s CSCI), of at least equal length. But these are all impractical for a community-based assessment team (CBAT) to use. So there is an empirical question: Are there a small number of critical school behaviors which, if in place, reliably indicate that the school has a culture/climate which adequately prevents and addresses bullying and supports vulnerable students? As an LGBT-focused organization, Garden State Equality (and its partners) are proposing the following key indicators (there are a few others):


The school has affinity groups such as GSA’s (gender and sexuality alliances), for minority populations; where affinity groups are not already in place, the school pledges to work with GSE and its community partners to create such groups.
Cultural competency training for all staff includes LGBT-specific training.
There is training about the anti-bullying law (ABR), the Law Against Discrimination (LAD), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Title IX, and other non-discrimination, bias crime and education laws.
There is policy that ensures that all students can use facilities and programs that match their gender identity.
There is nondiscrimination policy with language that matches the LAD, including toward protected classes (e.g., transgender people) in line with NJ and federal law.
There is a dress code which is not strictly gendered (e.g., cross-dressing is not against school code).
The health curriculum has inclusive, affirming content about LGBT students, and students with disabilities.

Schools are initially being asked to tell us whether they have such elements in place, or to ask for help with development if not. If they do, schools will be recognized, praised.  Going forward, going beyond school self-report to gather information about whether the elements are in place will be the key. And then, there should be a response to schools who do not have or develop the elements through community advocacy. This is a major step forward. We’re excited to be part of it.


We are again organizing for Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) the annual summer conference on bullying and the law. A detailed notice will follow soon. The conference is Monday, August 10th, at NJ Law Center. Speakers already confirmed include Hany Mawla, JSC, Jeffrey Youngman, Michael Kaelber, Jerry Tanenbaum, Leisa-Anne Smith, Luanne Peterpaul, Ruth Lowenkron, Philip Freeman, Andrea Bowen, and more to come. Especially if you’re a lawyer, or an educator who wants the latest updates on bullying and law, hold the date!

Want to be on the radio? I’m continuing to host one of the only (or the only?) radio shows in the U.S. focused on bullying: “Let’s Talk About Bullying,” on 920TheVoice, which broadcasts in NJ and Pennsylvania (Mercer, Bucks and Burlington counties). If, as a Coalition participant, you’re interested in being a guest on the show (some of you already have been), just contact me. The show broadcsts every Saturday at 1pm, but I usually record some shows during the week, at the studio in Princeton. You can access over a year of archived shows on the website, The radio station is of course always interested in sponsorship and sponsors do help guarantee that we can keep getting the message out on the air. So, if you or your organization are interested in supporting the show, contact Tony Henry, marketing manager, at 609-865-2803.


Obesity is one of the most commonly targeted conditions, although most weight conditions are not covered by bias-based legal protections (e.g., included in the LAD, or as one of the enumerated characteristics in the ABR). So it’s important that an upcoming conference at Rutgers University, on May 1st, is specifically about weight bias, obesity and bullying. Best of all, the conference features a talk by Prof. Maurice Elias, a Coalition colleague and one of the best known (well-merited) experts on school climate and SEL in the U.S. Well worth attending! (see the notice below)



Editorial: 'Teach and Affirm Students in New Jersey' provides important lessons on bullying

olice give anti-bully presentation, Jan. 23, 2015

By Times of Trenton Editorial Board The Star-Ledger
on March 23, 2015 at 9:36 AM

Does your child's school have an affinity group such as a Gender Sexual Alliance, where minority students and their allies serve as a source of social support and advocacy for one another?

Does it have a health curriculum that considers the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students?

What about a dress code that allows transgender students to express themselves comfortably?

These are among the criteria a new statewide coalition will be examining as it looks to identify Garden State schools that provide safe learning spaces for all their students.

The project, initiated by Garden State Equality (GSE) and several high-profile community groups, is called "Teach and Affirm Students in New Jersey." Its purpose is admirable.

Sadly, the reality is that teasing, bullying and violence against minority students are far from rare in a school setting. Several years ago, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that nearly one-third of all students aged 12 to 18 said they had been bullied in the previous year.

Despite safeguards already in place, the vicious e-mails, texts, website posts, face-to-face confrontations and verbal threats continue, particularly aimed against those whose non-conformity marks them as "other."

So we welcome the news that GSE and its partners - including the Central New Jersey Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention - are taking efforts one step further.

Using a set of metrics, their project will reward schools that are especially attuned to the needs of LGBT students, students of different racial/ethnic backgrounds, and students with disabilities.

"We want to elevate the reputations of schools that are already fulfilling these outcomes, while providing training and our expert support to schools that aren't," GSE Executive Director Andrea Bowen said in a statement announcing the initiative.

Adding muscle to the program is the fact that coalition members, including ACLU-NJ, are making themselves and their resources available to schools whose scores fall short of the ideal.

People who downplay bullying as an unavoidable fact of life, or who claim that those who engage in these behaviors are just having a little innocent fun, miss the point entirely.

Recent studies indicate that fear of bullying causes some 160,000 students nationwide to stay home from school every day. More disturbingly, studies by Yale University show that victims of bullying are between two and nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims.

This is serious stuff. It's appropriate that Garden State Equality and allies are doing something serious about it.

Follow The Times of Trenton on Twitter @TimesofTrenton. Find The Times of Trenton on Facebook.



UPDATE 3/15:

This is a correction of an oversight in one of the notes below (1/15): I left out the name of one of my colleagues who attended the NJ Senate ceremony in November: Blythe Hinitz. I knew I might leave out a name (the danger of doing such lists) but I'm upset to have left out Blythe. For those who may not know, Prof. Hinitz is one of the earliest and most consistent of our Coalition participants and has been helpful in multiple ways. A national expert in early childhood education, a distinguished professor at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, the author of many important books on early childhood education, including one of the only (and perhaps earliest) of the books specifically addressing bullying in early childhood and pre-school ("The Anti-Bullying and Teasing Book"), she is a member of the Coalition's higher education advisory group (see the Advisory Group documents on our home page), and has been an expert guest on Dr. Green's radio show, "Let's Talk About Bullying." We're very appreciative of her work - and her presence at the November ceremony honoring the work of the Coalition. Thanks Blythe!

UPDATE (1/15):

For 2015, the work continues (some points below, a mix of updates, announcements and appreciations):


Hotline calls continuing to come in – as always, very frustrating to hear of parents still struggling to get an adequate response to their child’s plight.
The website continues to get a steady flow of hits, mainly from parents.
Occasional talks, such as one upcoming in Newark this month, for parents.
Lots of contacts with media, whether initiated by me (published occasionally in the Times and Star Ledger) or (more commonly) reporters.
There’s definitely been an increase in awareness of the problem, and definitely heightened empowerment for parents of vulnerable and hurt kids, and heightened expectations for addressing the problem on the part of everyone else, including school staff.
The field is predictably tragedy-driven, driven by media coverage and public interest, as in all the recent attention to hazing, highlighted by the remarkably strong and positive response of Sayreville’s Superintendent Labbe to the problem there.
Still doing the weekly radio show (920thevoice), with great guests, the audience gradually increasing, and sponsors.
Still participating in the very well done ongoing efforts of two state initiatives – United Way/Northern NJ’s Culture and Climate Coalition, and Center for Supportive School’s Campaign Connect.
Participating in Garden State Equality’s youth task force, helping cover their bullying hotline, and appreciative of their continuing great work on multiple fronts, all of which empowers youth and improves the climate, at school and everywhere else.
Appreciative of the continuing important work of NJ Alliance for Social Emotional and Character Development, and (in the same domain) of CASEL (on the national stage).
An occasional academic publication, always with great co-authors, the latest just published in Educational Researcher (lead author is Nadia Ansary of Rider U.).
Very appreciative of honor conferred in November 2015 by NJ State Senate (Senators Weinberg, Vitale and Allen) recognizing the Coalition work. While the ceremony and certificate were directed to me, all colleagues should feel recognized, and special appreciation to those who attended with me - Blythe Hinitz, Faith Rice, Liz Warner, Trish Heindel, Joan Rivitz, colleagues from the radio station and Atlantic Health System, and my family (and in case I'm forgetting anyone who was there with me, please accept my great, great apology - and remind me, and I'll add your name here and my thanks!)!
Still hoping there’s eventually an understanding that inadequately addressed violence in school is institutional child neglect, a presentation Michael Greene and I have taken on the road a few times, and which needs more time and energy invested (difficult commodities to generate).
On the legal front, still doing expert witness work, appreciating the great continuing work and leadership of Education Law Center, and Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, and the private lawyers who participate in the Anti-Bullying Lawyers Group and advocate for families so well, and, as always, appreciative that NJ State Bar Foundation and Leisa-Anne Smith continue to be so central to anti-bullying work. Also glad for the Bar Association’s Institute for Continuing Legal Education continuing  support of our annual summer conference. And glad the year started off with a boost for disability rights in schools – the settlement of the least restrictive environment case brought by ELC, SPAN, Disability Rights NJ, Arc of NJ, and its lawyers (Todd Wilson; Lowenstein, Sandler; Freeman Carolla Reisman and Gran).  
Glad the Coalition’s main convening activity in Fall 2014 was the great Stan Davis intensive, in partnership with Kean University (thanks Prof. Barry Mascari, and Kamika Samms), highlighting Stan’s (and his colleague Charisse Nixon’s) great continuing work, the Youth Voice Project.
The Coalition’s Spring 2015 gathering will focus on hazing. Hoping to get Hank Nuwer and Elizabeth Allan, the country’s leading experts, to participate.
Awaiting the final work of the anti-bullying task force, and hopefully a legislative response that strengthens the current (strong) law. A Coalition wish list would include a shift in definition to emphasize pattern over incident, endorsement of a private cause of action, specific disciplinary and other measures for school leaders and schools which inadequately address the problem, more specification of minimum baseline measures schools should be taking (especially on behalf of minority/vulnerable populations), and a mandatory assessment process for school climate and violence which doesn’t only rely on administrator self-report, including a recommendation to repeal the current law requiring parental consent for assessment.
Last, see below for a copy of the latest email from the great organization National School Climate Center (if you don’t get it, you should sign up). One of the documents they highlight is especially worth distributing widely (excerpted link below). It’s helpful work.

“What is bullying? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Education, and the Health Resources and Services Administration have outlined a uniform definition acknowledging two modes and four types of bullying.”  


Thanks to everyone for all the efforts made. Wishing for a Happy New Year!


Stuart Green, DMH, LCSW
Director, NJ Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention / / (908) 522-2581


Associate Director, Overlook Family Medicine

#103, 33 Overlook Rd.
Summit, NJ 07901

(908) 522-5283 / cell: 973-270-6503



'All Stan Davis' conference in NJ: See the attached flyer for full detail on this important event - October 23rd and 24th at Kean University in Union, NJ. (See below for brief notice about it.) There are still seats available on the Day One (10/23), while Day Two (10/24) is almost full. (Discounted admission is available for those for whom that would be helpful - call 908-522-2581 if needed.)

Davis Conference Flyer 9-14

Update: 6/3/14:

1. We announce with some excitement that the Coalition is co-sponsoring (with Kean University's Counselor Education Department) on October 23rd and 24th, at Kean University in Union, NJ, New Jersey's first conference focused entirely on the work of Stan Davis, one of the country's most important anti-bullying advocates! Davis has done keynotes and presentations in NJ before - in fact a Coalition meeting last year featured a dialogue between Davis and Maurice Elias, and Davis was a presenter (with Dan Olweus) at the very first Coalition conference a decade ago, at NJ Law Center. But this will be the first time a NJ conference has been 'All Davis!'. On Thursday, October 23rd, Davis will present his work at a full day meeting at Kean University to an audience of 200. The next day, Friday, October 24th, Davis will conduct an intensive full-day workshop for 30 people (of those who also attended the first day). Attendees may either register for Oct. 23rd only, or for the two-day event. Registration information will be available shortly, emailed to the education and counseling communities, and posted on the web. For any pre-registration questions or information, contact the Coalition at 908-522-2581 or email

Davis conf save date

2. Another upcoming Coalition-organized conference is the annual 'bullying and the law' meeting at NJ Law Center, which Dr Green organizes for ICLE (Institute for Continuing Legal Education). This year's full-day conference, on Tuesday, August 19th at the Law Center, has a great line-up of presenters (and topics) as usual, featuring lawyers associated with the Education Law Center (and Coalition)'s anti-bullying lawyer group, as well as other presenters. If you're a lawyer in NJ, you've already received notice of this (and will receive more). If you'd like more information about the conference, contact Lisa Spiegel of ICLE a lspiegel@njsba, or the Coalition, at 908-522-2581 or

3. In early May, the Coalition's director Stuart Green and research advisor Michael Greene co-presented at the annual NASW-NJ conference in Atlantic City, their proposal that inadequately addressed bullying in school be considered child neglect, to a large and very interested audience of social workers. The issue continues to be raised and pursued. There is some 'pushback' to our effort. Some natural allies (e.g., Garden State Equality) are expressing concern (unwarranted, we believe) that this effort, if successful, would 'criminalize' bullying issues. In contrast, we see construing inadequately addressed bullying as child neglect working to increase attention, expectations and resources, as well as a commensurate sense of urgency, to the need for schools to more adequately address the issue and do an even better job protecting and supporting vulnerable children). For a look at our argument, visit the 'Presentations' page of this website.

4. Stuart Green did a recent presentation (at the annual Miller Institute Anti-Bullying Conference, this year at Stockton College) on 'reducing liability by addressing bullying'. The presentation was a combination of Dr Green's usual (though continually updated) coverage of 'what schools should do to address bullying' with points gleaned from his work as an expert witness in bullying-related lawsuits. For a look at the presentation, visit the 'Presentations' page (of course) on this website.

5. The Coalition meeting on April 1st at NJ Law Center was a great success. Lots of attendees and organizations (about 50), with great feedback all around. (See below document, 'Coalition meeting April 1 2014' for a description.)

6. On the afternoon of the Coalition meeting April 1st, there was a first-ever in-person meeting of the Education Law Center's (and Coalition-initiated) NJ Anti-Bullying Lawyers Group, facilitated by Elizabeth Athos of ELC. The discussion was lively and very informative. The group is small but growing. Attendees  already include a number of the most important private attorneys (and some public) working as advocates for bullied children and their families. One point worth emphasizing is that while the main goal of the group is to allow such attorneys (usually communicating on-line, confidentially, via a listserv) to share expertise and so inform and strengthen their work, another goal of establishing the group is to have a legal advisory voice in NJ which has a purely child and family advocacy-oriented perspective. I have constrasted this perspective with other established legal voices on bullying in NJ, associated with various education organizations. While such organizations also see themselves as advocates for children, their association with the state's education associations inevitably attunes them to school and institutional perspectives and needs. Those perspectives and needs are never identical with what children and families - especially those most vulnerable or already hurt - want and require. I was therefore very heartened by the quality of discussion which took place at the NJ ABL group meeting, and by the potential of the new group!


Update (documents, etc.) 3/28/14:

For the Coalition meeting April 1st, see the agenda below, and then links to various revelant documents, including the agenda, already sent out to confirmed participants (about 40 organizations):

Workplace Bullying Flyer

What_is_School_Culture_and_Climate Liz

Task Force 1st interim report 2013


NJCCC Successful School Guidelines FINAL 2014


Davis summary per Frank DiLallo 2-14

920 The Voice Show Flyer

ABTF Final Report 1-14



Coalition press release EVVRS 1-14

Coalition meeting April 1 2014



Update 3/2/14:

1. The Coalition meeting scheduled for February 18th was cancelled because of the snow on that date. The meeting has been rescheduled for Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 9am-12:30pm (there is a networking breakfast from 8:30am to 9, and a networking lunch from 12:30pm to 1:30). See item "2." below (Update 1/28/14) for details. If you represent an organization concerned about childhood bullying and would like to attend, RSVP is required (limited attendance); contact Stuart Green at stuartgreen@njbullying.if interested.

After the Coalition meeting ends, there will be second Coalition-sponsored meeting at the Law Center, from 2pm-3:30pm, of lawyers who advocate for children and families impacted by bullying. The meeting extends from a new advocacy lawyers list-serv recently begun. If you are interested in the list-serv and the meeting, contact the convener, Elizabeth Athos, of Education Law Center in Newark. In regard to these meetings, we again express our appreciation to Leisa-Anne Smith and NJ Bar Foundation, for their continuing support.

2. The Coalition is co-sponsoring a workplace bullying conference with the Workplace Bullying Coalition. The conference will take place on April 4th at Rutgers Law School. If you are interested in attending, contact the Convention Chair, Judge (ret.) Sue Yang at or call 908-200-2034.

3. One of the Coalition's missions is to increase awareness of effective approaches to childhood bullying. While there are a number of persons doing significant work on bullying, the one person we have repeatedly highlighted is Stan Davis, the counselor from Maine, whose work is simply special. He captures the heart of the anti-bullying movement and advances the cause like no one else. His seminal website, was the earliest and best resource we had. He wrote the best guide to the issue, Schools Where Everyone Belongs. His creation of the Youth Voice Project survey (with Charisse Nixon of Penn State) has been a tremendous contribution, focusing attention on youth perspectives in a convincing, data-driven manner. (Their new book about the survey, Youth Voice Project, is highly recommended - the introduction alone is worth the price of admission.) He is also a founder of the International Bullying Prevention Association. And so on ... Addressing the Coalition's mission to increase awareness of effective approaches to childhood bullying is fulfilled in part by highlighting Davis' work and bring it to maximal attention. To this end, we are organizing the first 'All Davis' conference in NJ - a full day (and possibly two) featuring Stan and his work. While Davis has keynoted and presented at other conferences, the point of this meeting is to allow for adequate time for a fuller immersion is his work and perspectives. Details to follow on this page and via email.

4. Stuart Green continues to do the radio show, "Let's Talk About Bullying," on 920AM, Saturdays at 1pm. For an archive of the shows, visit the station's website, Each show (to this point) has featured a guest expert, discussing bullying issues with Dr Green. Guests have included Stan Davis, Michael B. Greene, Matthew Mayer, Jonathan Cohen, Paula Rodriguez-Rust, Nancy Willard, Randy Ross and others.


Update 1/28/14:

1. Stuart Green has done about 10 broadcasts of "Let's Talk About Bullying," a weekly radio show on . Each show has featured a guest expert and a discussion of key issues. Podcasts of the show are available at the station website.

2. The next meeting of the Coalition is on February 18th. The meeting will feature a discussion of the Anti-Bullying Task Force's latest report, just issued this week and available at: Leaders of current state campaigns on school climate will describe their initiatives, updates will be provided on Coalition-supported law projects, there will be a discussion of confidentiality issues in schools, and an analysis of data from the EVVRS will be presented. Attendance is by invitation and RSVP - if you represent an organization concerned about childhood bullying and would like to attend the meeting, please contact Stuart Green at


1. As of November 2, 2013, Stuart Green will be hosting a radio show about bullying on 920AM, a station which covers NJ from Princeton and south, into Pennsylvania, on Saturdays, weekly at 1pm. One of the first radio shows in the country specifically about bullying, the format will feature interviews with guests and some commentary about bullying-related issues. Doing the show will take tons of preparation, so the show will become a primary focus, with less time and energy available for other Coalition activities.

2. However, an effort will still be made to reconvene the Coalition's higher-education-based expert advisory group, and begin again the process of generating freely available, widely distributed and reliable short information briefs on various key bullying-related issues.

3. SG will continue to participate in the two current statewide school climate campaigns, one conducted by Center for Supportive Schools (still transitioning its name and focus from Princeton Center for Leadership Training), the other conducted by United Way of Northern NJ. Within the United Way campaign, we've developed a set of school climate guidelines, and a definitional statement about school climate, both of which are pending release and will be posted here shortly.

4. Phone calls are still coming in at the usual rate, one or two a day, almost all from parents of children who have been hurt in school, seeking information.

5. Public interest in bullying is still running high, with regular calls from reporters, another letter by SG published in the NY Times recently, and the request to do the radio show, as mentioned above, all reflective of this continuing attention.

6. Anti-bullying advocates are of course thrilled about the great new civil rights development in NJ, with marriage equality having finally been achieved. Congratulations to all the communities who worked so long and so well to accomplish this tremendous positive change, especially Garden State Equality and its members. Hopefully this court-ordered change will be followed by new legislation.

7. SG and a small number of other advocates (Michael Greene, Paula Rodriguez-Rust, among others) continue to be asked by lawyers to function as expert witnesses to advise on cases brought by families of bullied children. Private lawyers bringing such cases continue to play an important role in advancing protections for children.

8. The Anti-Bullying Task Force continues its work, with further and final reports and recommendations still to be issued.

9. NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome has developed an important youth advocacy model, in which youth with Tourette Syndrome (TS) give presentations about the condition to students and educators. This intervention seems to have a dramatic positive impact on the subsequent experiences of youth with TS and similar conditions in the schools, with reductions in harsh treatment by peers, and increased acceptance and understanding. The youth also conduct a parallel project, using a model developed by SG, in which presentations about TS and the youths' experiences are made to physicians, to increase understanding of the perspectives, stresses and needs of people with TS. The project was recently presented to an audience of child specialists at Yale University, and enthusiastically received. This work needs to grow and spread, to encompass other conditions.

More news items, research items, and more detail on activities will be posted shortly.


Previously posted items:

1. We continue to make the argument that when schools inadequately prevent and address the situation of a vulnerable child repeatedly hurt in school, that is child neglect (or if hurt by an adult, child abuse). See the Coalition statement, below.

Coalition statement on bullying as abuse 1-13

Here is support for the assertion above, from Stuart Green and Michael B. Greene:

Child Neglect cites for bullying presentation SG MBG 4-13

2. A new and wonderful report on bullying from American Educational Research Association.

I've been following this and I'm excited about it. It's one of the best reports I've seen, no surprise w the folks involved,

espec Espelage as lead, and such as our own Matthew Mayer (Rutgers) involved. It's very high quality, with great clarity

and usefulness, evidence-based and expertly analyzed. It's so good!

April 30, 2013 – The American Educational Research Association (AERA) today issued a new report titled Prevention of Bullying in Schools, Colleges, and Universities: Research Report and Recommendations.,%20Colleges%20and%20Universities.pdf

The report results from the work of a blue-ribbon AERA task force mandated to prepare and present practical short-term and long-term recommendations to address bullying of children and youth. The report’s release coincides with the association’s 94th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

AERA Report

3. Recent items by SG in the Star Ledger - an interview and a letter:

(if the links below aren't 'clickable' just paste the url's in your browser)

Making the anti-bullying law work: Q&A |

Apr 12, 2013 ... Clearly, there's been some confusion over the law, acknowledges Stuart Green, director of the New Jersey

Coalition for Bullying Awareness ...

Anti-bullying law misunderstood

4. The summer conference we organize for ICLE on "bullying and the law" is now scheduled for August 15th,

at NJ Law Center in New Brunswick and has a tremendous line-up of topics and presenters. The 'ad' will be

posted shortly but meanwhile here's an advance peak: Steven Goldstein on bullying on campus (college)! Louis White

speaking for the first time at a conference about his experiences and perspectives from 'inside' the groundbreaking

"LW vs Toms River" case! Frank Vespa-Papaleo on bias-based bullying! and much more! All all-day conference

aimed at lawyers but open to all. Worth driving up even if you're at the shore!

5. Another essential conference - in July - from the National School Climate Center.

The National School Climate Center will hold their 16th annual Summer Institute  -- School Climate Renewal – Promoting Moral-Ethical Learning, Democratically-informed and High Achieving K-12 Schools -- from July 9-11th in New York City with a one day (optional) workshop that is focused on students who are learning disabled.  To learn about the Institute as well as a linked School Climate Certificate Leadership program, see:



A Statement from NJ Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention, 4/15/13

Bullying in School is Child Abuse

Stuart Green, DMH, LCSW, Director, NJ Coalition


Michael Greene, PhD

Principal, Greene Consulting


                  Bullying involves a child being intentionally and repeatedly hurt, physically or psychologically, by others in a relationship characterized by an imbalance of power between the targeted child and those doing harm. The power imbalance may be a function of actual or perceived membership in a minority group, differences in physical or psychological strength, or popularity, or across a wide range of other characteristics and disparities. The power imbalance renders bullying a form of abuse rather than a  conflict. Evidence from cross-sectional as well as longitudinal studies indicates that the experience of being chronically bullied as a child - generally defined as bullying occurring at least two to three times per month - causes significant harm, often lasting into adulthood.

                  Bullying in school occurs over extended time periods - the typical pattern is months or even years - and therefore provides multiple opportunities for educators and other school staff to be aware it is occurring. Schools have  custodial responsibility for students, i.e., in loco parentis.  Staff and administrators can facilitate bullying through inaction, indirect encouragement, establishing or permitting a “bullying culture,” and modeling bullying-like behavior. Alternatively, staff and administrators can establish effective reporting and investigatory procedures, create a culture of caring and responsiveness to vulnerable and hurt children, and can establish evidence-based and systematic approaches to bullying. Indeed, 48 states in the United States have established anti-bullying laws that require proactive and strong responses to  bullying in school. Nevertheless, these laws have remained separate and apart from regulations and laws in the child welfare system.

                  We argue that bullying is indeed a child welfare matter. If staff and administrators ignore or facilitate peer bullying, the criteria for accepted  standards of child neglect are fulfilled, albeit on an institutional level. By permitting peer bullying through inaction or direct actions the school is guilty of failing to provide adequate supervision, failure to attend to the child’s psychological and emotional needs, and failure to protect the child from harm. Moreover, when staff and administrators directly bully children through ‘put-downs’, grade deflation, ostracizing or isolating, this behavior should be characterized as child abuse. We suggest that school bullying should therefore be seen as an instance of (institutional) child abuse and neglect, and the phenomenon brought within the purview and structures used to address child abuse and neglect, including corresponding laws and regulations. That is, there should be a duty to report, and the involvement of social service agencies and child advocates. Construing childhood bullying in this way will lead to more effective prevention and addressing of bullying, and safer, better lives for children.     //

4/15/13: An important new study of long-term effects (into adulthood) of bullying.

This study of several thousand North Carolina children is the strongest evidence yet that the experiencing of bullying in childhood, whether as the child who bullies, the child who is bullied, or the child in both roles with different children, has long-term negative effects, comparable to the experience in childhood of other forms of violence, including abuse. This is especially so for children who are so-called 'bully-victims' but the negative impact extends to all children involved. Here is the abstract. The article appeared in JAMA Psychiatry this month.

JAMA Psychiatry. 2013 Apr 1;70(4):419-26. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.504.

Adult psychiatric outcomes of bullying and being bullied by peers in childhood and adolescence.

Copeland WE, Wolke D, Angold A, Costello EJ.
IMPORTANCE Both bullies and victims of bullying are at risk for psychiatric problems in childhood, but it is unclear if this elevated risk extends into early adulthood. OBJECTIVE To test whether bullying and/or being bullied in childhood predicts psychiatric problems and suicidality in young adulthood after accounting for childhood psychiatric problems and family hardships. DESIGN Prospective, population-based study. SETTING Community sample from 11 counties in Western North Carolina. PARTICIPANTS A total of 1420 participants who had being bullied and bullying assessed 4 to 6 times between the ages of 9 and 16 years. Participants were categorized as bullies only, victims only, bullies and victims (hereafter referred to as bullies/victims), or neither. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE Psychiatric outcomes, which included depression, anxiety, antisocial personality disorder, substance use disorders, and suicidality (including recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, or a suicide attempt), were assessed in young adulthood (19, 21, and 24-26 years) by use of structured diagnostic interviews. RESULTS Victims and bullies/victims had elevated rates of young adult psychiatric disorders, but also elevated rates of childhood psychiatric disorders and family hardships. After controlling for childhood psychiatric problems or family hardships, we found that victims continued to have a higher prevalence of agoraphobia (odds ratio [OR], 4.6 [95% CI, 1.7-12.5]; P < .01), generalized anxiety (OR, 2.7 [95% CI, 1.1-6.3]; P < .001), and panic disorder (OR, 3.1 [95% CI, 1.5-6.5]; P < .01) and that bullies/victims were at increased risk of young adult depression (OR, 4.8 [95% CI, 1.2-19.4]; P < .05), panic disorder (OR, 14.5 [95% CI, 5.7-36.6]; P < .001), agoraphobia (females only; OR, 26.7 [95% CI, 4.3-52.5]; P < .001), and suicidality (males only; OR, 18.5 [95% CI, 6.2-55.1]; P < .001). Bullies were at risk for antisocial personality disorder only (OR, 4.1 [95% CI, 1.1-15.8]; P < .04). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE The effects of being bullied are direct, pleiotropic, and long-lasting, with the worst effects for those who are both victims and bullies.

4/3/13: Updates/Comments:

-A presentation on "Bullying in School as Child Abuse" by Coalition director Dr Stuart Green and Coalition Research Advisor Dr Michael B. Greene will be given at the 8th Annual National Child Advocacy Conference at Montclair State University on April 19th.

-SG is participating as an advisor to the Center for Responsive School's (formerly Princeton Center for Leadership Training) "Campaign Connect", the goal of which is to create criteria for improving school climate which schools can meet to obtain certification. The statewide campaign (funded) has the participation and support of state DOE.

-Preparations are under way for another "bullying and the law" conference we're organizing for ICLE at the NJ Law Center, to take place Thursday, August 15th, 2013. Details to follow shortly.

-Also this summer, the Coalition plans to host a conference entirely focused on the consideration of bullying in school as child abuse/neglect.

-Another summer conference, highly recommended, is the annual National School Climate Center gathering in July (information is on their website, at NSCC has also just launched their new School Climate Resource Center, a comprehensive on-line resource (info on the website).

-SG is also participating in another Coalition of multiple non-profit and governmental organizations, this time called together by United Way - Northern NJ. Significantly, the new Coalition has the involvement of state DOE, of Rutgers experts Dr Maurice Elias and Dr Brad Lerman, and a large health system, Atlantic (Overlook and Morristown Medical Centers, in this part of NJ).

-Calls continue to come in from parents, at least once daily, on average, as well as contacts from the media, and Coalition colleagues (SG, MBG, others) continue to give talks on bullying (SG was recently at William Patterson University's school of education) and receive requests to be expert witnesses in cases in which children and families take legal action based on the claim that the child has suffered greatly in a school setting without enough having been done to prevent or address it.

-Recent media attention in NJ has focused on how schools are implementing the law, most recently on whether schools are over-identifying bullying. And today's news (and yesterday's) has focused on the serious misbehavior (bullying) of a Rutgers university coach. According to today's Times (we will post the article in the 'News' section shortly), the coach has now been fired (long after the behavior first occurred and was well known to those in charge - the firing is obviously related to the new wider publicity about the behavior), and in part as a response, Sen. Lautenberg and Congressman Holt have introduced new legislation addressing the bullying behavior of adults (such as coaches ... ). It always seems to take a new incident to spur this type of (positive) attention and response. The response, while welcome, is a reminder that we need to get to a point at which we don't need new incidents to move us forward but can be more proactive in our attention to the issue. Bullying hasn't gone away, even in the intervals when there is no well-publicized incident to rivet us.

-Two new books, which will be reviewed for the books section of this site shortly: one by Emily Bazelon, a Slate reporter who did a series of stories on the bullying and death of Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts - the book is called "Sticks and Stones", Just to anticipate the review, the book does two very different and somewhat contradictory things, while overall being supportive of the importance of addressing bullying. On the one hand, Bazelon emphasizes (wrongly, in our view) the psychological problems and family issues she finds in the stories of targets of bullying (using her study of Prince as an example), as well as in the perpetrators of school shootings (eg, the youth who killed at Columbine). On the other hand, she does a good job of reporting the lack of adequate attention to bullying (and implicit facilitation of bullying) by social media sites, focusing especially on Facebook. The book is well-written, interesting to read, and overall is good reporting. The other newest book is a short volume (60 pages or so, available for $3.99 on Kindle) of guidance for parents, written by two important Canadian researchers (Wendy Craig and Debra Pepler) and a psychologist colleague, Joanne Cummings, simply titled "Bullying Prevention: What Parents Need to Know." The book is solid in hewing to the evidence, written clearly and very accessibly for the non-professional audience, concise and useful, generally. However, there is not enough emphasis on the responsibility of educators and schools. And the framing (and strong emphasis) on bullying as a relationship problem, which arguably has some validity, is also problematic as a concept and may be confusing to parents. In most cases, bullying is an assault, and we don't usually (for good reason) analyze assault as a 'relationship problem' between the target and the perpetrator. The book also, unfortunately, provides some advice which is meant to be practical but - as we know from Stan Davis' youth voice project and our own experience - puts too much responsibility on the targets (eg, advice to avoid those who are bullying - easy to say, but ... ).

1/26/13: Updates/Comments:

1. NJ's most important anti-bullying ally - Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality - moves to Rutgers-Newark.

As we repeatedly note, the fortunes of the nation's anti-bullying movement are inextricably tied to the fights for full gender equality, disability rights, child rights, and all other rights movements. In NJ, the most active force in anti-bullying efforts has been the LGBT community, and Garden State Equality, the state's most active civil rights organization (certainly as measured by success in generating legislation) has been the leading edge. GSE's founder (amazingly, only eight years ago) and leader, Steven Goldstein, while remaining GSE active and involved (as 'emiritus' chair, eg) is moving on to take an associate chancellor position at Rutgers University-Newark. In that position, he's certainly still in a leadership role in an important institution for diversity efforts, and hopefully full marriage equality in NJ is imminent, so he's left things in good shape (and good hands - more on that later). From one movement to another, we wish him very well!

-SG, 1/26/13

2. Gender equality (for all gender identity and expression)

As noted above, the more equality for the LGBT community, the better the prospects for schools and all other institutions in society adequately preventing and addressing bullying. In that regard, the continuing movement toward full gender equality (including full and open support for all gender identity and expression, and marriage equality of course) is critical. In that sense, two recent events - the continuing evolution of the country's political culture and institutions, marked most recently by the election of a half-dozen openly gay, lesbian and bisexual U.S. legislators, and by the President's positive comments in his inaugural address, as well as the decision announced this week to open all military combat positions to women - are notable, long-awaited and welcome. What needs to happen next is for these positive developments to now lend real force to necessary efforts to curb sexual harassment and assaults in the military and its institutions. News reports indicate the military establishment's awareness of the problem, at least at its high leadership levels, and genuine efforts seem to be underway. Having legislators who 'get it' (the importance of the issue) in place, and a growing engagement and influence of women in all areas ought to help. We're hopeful.

-SG, 1/26/13

3. Disability rights

For the differently-abled community, the most important recent development is this week's decision by federal DOE that students with disabilities must be provided full access to athletics in schools. This is new and remains to be seen how schools will respond. But journalists and experts are comparing this decision to Title IX's impact on opening access for women. Schools have a long way to go in all areas in terms of providing adequate support for students with special needs, and not only in athletics. Just as one small, very important example - we get calls almost every day from parents of students with special needs seeking help for their children hurt (typically for months of years) in school. The number one source of support for those parents should be a strong association with other parents of students with special needs. Yet rarely are these parents aware of such peer support organizations in their children's schools. This is a case of institutional neglect. Few parents of a child with special needs can function adequately without the active support of a parents' special needs organization. (Having said that, few parents of any child can function adequately without such peer support.) Knowing this, a school has an educator's moral and professional responsibility to ensure that such supportive structures exist, are robust and sustained, and that every parent of a child with special needs is aware and the organization and has every opportunity to be engaged.

-SG, 1/26/13

4. School bullying as child abuse and neglect?

I have asked Coalition experts, such as Dr Michael B. Greene, our primary research advisor, Leisa-Anne Smith of NJ State Bar Foundation, and Elizabeth Athos of Education Law Center, among others, to join with me in considering this issue. It is not a completely new idea but the fact is to this point none of the child welfare and child advocacy structures, including legally, which we routintely apply as a society to situations in which a child has suffered avoidable harm through the action or inaction of caregivers, are applied to the suffering children experience in schools, at the hands of peers or -worse, though less commonly, thankfully - at the hands of teachers or other staff. Yet almost all bullying - and especially the most egregiouis and lasting forms - can be prevented or ended by actions the adults who run and staff schools can and should take. The argument is that bullying in school is institutional neglect - or abuse. It's at least an argument worth considering. To that end, we plan to hold a conferfence this year, which brings together the state's leading experts on these issues. More information to follow.

-Stuart Green, 1/26/13

12/31/12: NEW! Updated news items (several months' worth) on 'News' page (click list at left).

12/31/12: NEW! Updated bullying-related studies from the academic literature, from June 2011 through the present (a year and half worth of studies)! Click on 'Research' in list at left.

11/12/12: New: On the 'News' page (link at left) are several months of items mainly from the Times, with comments ...

10/9/12: The annual Department of Education report on bullying in NJ - a comment!

So here we are again - another year and another inadequate assessment of bullying in NJ, courtesy of the state's Department of Education (DOE). On the positive side, the report this year reflects, to a great extent, the influence of the now one-year-old Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights. The strength of that law, and its success in its core mission - increasing attention by school administrators and staff (and public and media) to the critical issue of bullying in schools - has undoubtedly resulted in increasing reports of bullying. This is indeed reflected in this year's state report. Another positive which should be recognized is the state's new breakdown of bullying information, most importantly by categorizing the characteristics targeted for bullying (eg, gender) and the nature of the bullying (e.g., verbal, etc.), albeit in very general terms. However, the main problem which continues unchanged is the inadequate assessment process and method. The report remains reliant on a single means of data collection, an electronic self-reporting system, infamous for the under-reporting by schools of violence. (E.g., in past years we have noted as many as half of all school districts reporting 0-2 incidents of all violence in the reporting year.) DOE continues to avoid collaborating with the many interested non-profit organizations, and school communities to create a more meaningful (multi-modal) assessment process, as well as a process which specifically assesses school climate. It is therefore still difficult to take the annual report as seriously as the many media headlines indicate we should. To their credit, the media (e.g., NJ's newspapers) are including in their coverage more critiques of the assessment. We are somewhat hopeful that the new NJ Task Force on bullying will address the assessment issue, and make specific recommendations for DOE to enact. Meanwhile, we urge DOE to consult with experts and organizations outside of DOE to develop a better assessment process.

-Stuart Green

For an additional authoritative word on the annual report, here is a statement from Dr. Michael Greene, an expert on violence and its assessment, a primary research consultant to the Coalition, released today:

New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights (ABR) has substantially increased the identification, reporting, and investigation of alleged acts of bullying in New Jersey's schools.  More importantly, the reports generated as a result of ABR have revealed the bullying types and motivational bases for the bullying, a necessary first step for schools to target corrective action.  While the reports generated for the 2011-12 school year represent a giant step forward, there is much room for improvement.  Fifteen school districts reported zero instances of bullying (excluding districts that did not report any type of violence or vandalism, presumably because they did not participate in the data collection system) and another 13 districts reported only one bullying incident.  Included in the zero tallies were Morristown (4,067 students) and Bloomfield (6,059 students).  Moreover, the 13,101 students who were found to have perpetrated acts of bullying represent less than 1 percent of the New Jersey student body.  To provide some perspective:  in a representative survey of New Jersey High School students in 2010, 20 percent reported that they had been bullied in the prior year.  National statistics for 6th to 10th graders reveal that more than one-third of students bullied others during at least once during the past couple of months.  The New Jersey Department of Education needs to focus on those schools and school districts that clearly under-report and stay vigilant to ensure that reporting requirements and enforced throughout the system. 


10/4/12: New item on legal page - summary of cases back to Jan 2012


The National School Boards Association provides a tremendous on-line service, Legal Clips (address just above), which posts summaries of school-related legal cases from across the nation. The summaries are expert commentaries, very well written (and therefore very clear), with links to other information (original articles from media, etc.), references to other cases, etc. The site is searchable (e.g., 'bullying' or 'New Jersey') and a tremendous resource, for which we're grateful. Here's a document which contains the bullying-related summaries, nationally, from today back through January 2012 (with further back available on the site). Reading through the (admittedly long) document provides a very good view of what's going on legally in regard to bullying in school. - SG

from National School Boards Association 10-3-12


9/4/12: New Study - Bullying of Children with Autism

A newly published (by Sterzing et al in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine), an analysis of data from a national sample of kids in middle school and high school, finds an incredibly high percentage of children with autistic disorders who are bullied. That 46% of the approximately 900 kids with autism were bullied would come as no surprise to parents of children with special needs (of all kinds) and to the organizations which advocate for them, such as (in NJ) Statewide Parents Advocacy Network (SPAN) and NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome (NJCTS), among others. But having the evidence to support personal experience is very important. So here it is (part of a long line of such evidence, but this is the latest and best so far). There are several especially critical points to note. First, the 46% is as compared to the approximately 10% of all children who are bullied. Second, these are children who are obviously especially vulnerable and for whom it should be obvious that the typical misguided advice that children being bullied should 'defend themselves' is especially wrenching, as well as useless. Third, it should also be evident that even before this particular study was published, any reasonable and responsible educator and school should have been expected to be aware of the suffering of this population and to be taking steps to prevent that suffering by preventing and addressing bullying. The only possible 'out' one could find in this study is - being extremely optimistic - to note that the data is from 2001. The optimism would consist of believing that in the years since then, educators and schools have been very 'on the case', doing their utmost to support and protect children with autism and other special needs in their schools. Is such optimism warranted? What's your experience?

bullying and autism Times 9-4-12

8/8/12 New Advisory Document!

Here is the Coalition's newest document from our Expert Advisory Group, along with an accompanying press release about the group. The document is about bullying and LGBT issues, including bullying of gay, lesbian and transgender students, or those perceived as gay, or those not meeting stereotypical gender role expectations. These students are among those most targeted for peer (and sometimes adult) mistreatment. The document's primary author is Paula Rodriguez-Rust, PhD, an Advisory Group member. The document is the third issued by the Group: the other two documents are an overview of bullying issues, and about bullying of students with special needs ('disabilities'), whose primary author is Millicent Kellner, PhD. The documents are initially edited by Coalition director Stuart Green, with further review, input and editing by the other Advisory Group members. The Group's coordinator is Prof. Maurice Elias of Rutgers.

Advisory Group Document 3

Press release - Advisory Group

Here also are the other Advisory Group documents, and an explanatory note copied from an earlier posting on this site:

Advisory on Bullying - from the Coalition's new Expert Advisory Group

See the attached documents: an advisory for school leaders and staff, and a second document providing more detail about the Group. The document is now being widely distributed through NJ education and community organizations, and shortly via media. While guidance is coming to schools from many sources, including DOE, we felt it important to create a series of documents which provide evidence-based, bedrock guidance for schools. The Advisory Group consists of college and university experts on school climate, bullying and related issues, along with various other (Coalition) experts. The first document is an overall guide to the issue, all in a neat two pages, easy to reproduce. Subsequent documents will address multiple aspects of the problem (and its solutions) in even more detail, released over the coming weeks and months. The Group is led (Coordinated) by Dr. Maurice Elias, of Rutgers University, a widely known and highly acclaimed NJ (and national) expert on in issues of school climate, and bullying.

Advisory Group Document 1

Cover Note for Advisory Document 1

Advisory Group Document 2


7/16/12 NEW ITEMS!

1. A Comment on Penn State (and similar) ...

Is there a relationship between the child sexual abuse outrage at Penn State and childhood bullying in school? See the attached (below) by Coalition Director Stuart Green, published in the Times in July. The Times editorial, to which this was a response, is also attached below.

letter re penn state - times 7-13-12

Penn State editorial Times 7-12

2. Bullying and the Law: A Conference on August 8th

We've organized the 2nd annual conference on bullying and the law, for NJ Institute for Continuing Legal Education, of the NJ State Bar Association, being held at NJ Law Center in New Brunswick, on August 8th. The all-day (9am-3pm) conference for lawyers includes expert presenters on a wide range of bullying-related legal issues. A highlight is a talk by Jeffrey Youngman, Esq., who recently won a $4.2M settlement from Ramsey School District. For more information, contact ICLE at

3. An All-Day Workshop for Social Workers on August 9th

SG is doing a full-day presentation on bullying for NASW-NJ (for social workers). For information, contact NASW-NJ at



6/20/12: Involving the community

We regularly get calls from community organizations (e.g., faith communities, civic organizations, etc.) who want to arrange a talk about bullying for their constituents/members. Those of us who are advocates have provided many such talks. But now that the ABBR (the new NJ law) has mandated the establishment of new roles - the designated anti-bullying coordinator in the school district, and the designated anti-bullying specialist in the school, there is a new and important option. The staff in those roles should be the ones providing (or arranging for members of their mandated school safety - climate, really - teams to provide) such talks. Lack of school/community relations, not only in regard to bullying, is a common gap in the functioning of schools. In most communities in NJ, there is no ongoing meeting or communication between school staff (e.g., the district superintendent and staff, schools and their staff) and such community entities are the interfaith clergy council, or the town recreation department, or the local business organizations. Such relations - ongoing - are an important source of support for anti-bullying efforts in schools. At the least, this is because parents can be reached and engaged through their involvement with these community organizations. At the most, town organizations can provide many forms of concrete help and other support to school-wide school climate and anti-bullying initiatives and strategies. In fact, it should be a routine 'part of the job' for the safety teams, specialists and coordinators to reach out to community organizations and be engaged with them. This would include providing updates and talks about bullying and related issues. Now that there are designated staff at the district and school levels, such community organizations should routinely be receiving outreach from the school or district. In fact, either because it is only the first year of the law's implementation, or - less optimistically - because districts and schools are still not motivated enough to form such relationships, those calls do not often occur, we believe. And instead we - Coalition - get the calls. I have begun advising organizations which call to give their districts and schools the 'gift' of reaching out to them for help engaging and raising awareness about bullying. If schools and districts take on this responsibility more actively, good things will happen. At the least, there should be town-wide bullying awareness days (and related ongoing activities) taking place in every town in NJ, reflecting a collaboration between the school district, the interfaith clergy council and other town-specific civic organizations.

6/16/12: Updated items:

1. Pro bono law project

As a reminder for site visitors: a year ago, Education Law Center of Newark, and staffer Elizabeth Athos, Esq. in particular, with Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, began a program we had first talked about a decade ago - a project to provide legal representation for families of children bullied in school who would otherwise not be able to afford a private attorney. We provided training for about 40 lawyers interested in childhood bullying who agreed in return for the free training to provide pro bono representation for families. At this point, there have been a number of such cases, with favorable settlements reached in each one resolved to this point. The strength of the new law is an important (critical) background factor, with the law - as law does - expressing society's strengthened attitude (negative) toward bullying in school. At this point, finance-limited families of children terribly mistreated can not yet obtain representation on a contingency basis (or it is certainly uncommon, if it occurs at all), so the only realistic chance of obtaining legal advocacy from a private attorney is through this project. (Government legal services can sometimes be obtained from the state's Divsion on Civil Rights, if the bullying is bias-based, and some assistance has been available from Legal Services of NJ - though such government and funded services have been severely cut back in the last several years.)

2. The new task force!

In reponse to the challenge shamefully posed to the new law (Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights) by two school districts essentially demanding to be paid to do things which ought to be basic and essential to what it means to be an educator and to have a school - that is, protecting and supporting vulnerable children in their schools, and strengthening school culture and creating a welcoming, engaging school climate - the Governor and Legislature revised the new law in two main ways. One change was to put $1M into the law's Bullying Prevention Fund, with the money designated for 'paying back' schools for expenses associated with the new law. (As an aside, one of the two districts which brought the 'unfunded mandate' complaint to the Council on Local Mandates, was complaining that obeying the new law cost them a huge $12,000, and - by implication - that it was too much to ask them to protect children adequately going forward unless the state provided that money. The other change was to create a new Task Force, with seven members, and a three-year mission to meet regularly and provide guidance for training and implementation of the law, and any recommended changes in the law, and to start by submitting a written report to the Governor and Legislature by 180 days from the first meeting, which is scheduled for July. Of note is that three of the members - I won't name them - are likely to be solid advocates for mistreated children and families, and we're very happy with their appointments. One of the other four is a strong advocate for the interests of schools and administrators - a perspective which is often problematic for truly helping the children and families most affected by violence and lack of support in schools. The remaining three are not well known to us. So it remains to be seen whether the Task Force can effectively maintain and carry forward the intent of what is presently the strongest anti-bullying law in the country (not that it's perfect). Good Task Force work will be very welcome. Let's see ... 

See the Governor's April 25th announcement (below) for additional background. His four appointments are Rutgers University’s Bullying Prevention Institute Director Bradford C. Lerman, Psy.D.; Bancroft President and CEO Toni Pergolin, CPA; East Hanover Township Public Schools Superintendent Joseph L. Ricca, Jr., Ed.D.; and New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association Executive Director Patricia Wright, Ed.M..The other three appointments (by the Legislature) include Luanne Peterpaul, Esq., a private attorney in Springfield and a leader of Garden State Equality; Phillip Meisner, Esq., former aide to Senator Loretta Weinberg and other helpful legislators; and former Montclair Councilwoman Jessica deKoninck, previously the Legislative Director for the New Jersey Department of Education, and now in-house counsel to the South Orange-Maplewood school district. In my view, the priority for anti-bullying work is the plight and pain of vulnerable, hurt, isolated and disengaged children. Understanding and prioritizing this results in the intensity of advocacy needed to make things better. Alternatively, one can be very understanding and supportive of the plight of the adults who run and staff schools and our institutional systems of education and care. Ideally both perspectives could co-exist. In my experience, they rarely do. I am concerned ...

The full text of the law and revision is in the link, below.

Revision 2012 to ABBR



Task Force Part of Bipartisan Legislation Signed in March Aimed at Strengthening Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights (4/24/12)

Trenton, NJ – Acting on his commitment to ensure schools provide safe learning environments for children, free from harassment, intimidation and bullying, Governor Chris Christie today named his four members to the state’s Anti-Bullying Task Force called for in the Anti-Bullying Law of Rights. Originally signed into law in January 2011, portions of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights were found by the Council on Local Mandates to pose an unfunded mandate for school districts. Working in a bipartisan manner with the legislature, Governor Christie signed a legislative fix in March 2012 to address concerns cited by the Council. In addition to the creation of the Task Force, the measure also appropriates $1 million into the “Bullying Prevention Fund,” to financially support school districts as they implement the law.

The Governor’s four appointments are: Rutgers University’s Bullying Prevention Institute Director Bradford C. Lerman, Psy.D. (Westfield, Union); Bancroft President and CEO Toni Pergolin, CPA (Penn Valley, Pennsylvania); East Hanover Township Public Schools Superintendent Joseph L. Ricca, Jr., Ed.D. (Morristown, Morris); and New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association Executive Director Patricia Wright, Ed.M.(Spring Lake, Monmouth). These direct appointments do not require Senate confirmation and members will serve without compensation.

The Anti-Bullying Task Force is composed of seven members with experience or expertise in issues related to school bullying who will review and assist with the law’s implementation. The Governor appoints four members with the remaining three individuals appointed one each by the Senate President and the Speaker of the General Assembly, as well as one appointed jointly by the Senate President and the Speaker of the General Assembly. 


It's probably the "4.2 million dollar" figure that catches the eye, and that's ok. The amount is actually very meaningful. It's large enough to signal by itself that bullying cases can now not only be won by advocates for the bullied child, but that the level of school district risk is very high. Sometimes only lawsuits can produce the level of change needed beyond what social movements alone can do. This settlement is notable for reasons beyond the amount. For one thing, the fact that we're hearing about the case at all is notable. What it means (I believe - but I'm not a lawyer) is that a confidentiality agreement was not part of the settlement. There have been a number of other settlements in NJ over the years, but every one of them was covered by a confidentiality agreement. That meant the public wasn't allowed to hear about the outcome of the cases and the victim's voices were essentially - wrongly - silenced. So here's the other remarkable and laudable element of this case - that the child who was hurt - Sawyer Rosenstein - chose to speak up and share his story. It's a remarkable, inspiring story, the progress he's made - and meaning he continues to make - out of tragedy. He almost died as a result of the bullying incident - and in fact he is paralyzed (the incident occurred when he was 12 - he is now 18). He has had the strength and family support to move forward, in notable ways - as a college student, a journalist, and now as someone helping draw attention to the problem of bullying in school. Attached below is an article about the case from I chose this article (by Miranda Leitsinger) from all the other coverage because it does the best job of conveying Sawyer's own perspective. The lawyer on the case, Jeffrey Youngman, deserves appreciation for his work, in addition to the monetary compensation. This is a helpful achievement. What is frustrating about the case, and the response to it, is that the Ramsey School District is taking such pains to take no responsibility for the bullying or the outcome. According to the school district, the insurance company insisted on settling, implying that Ramsey - in its virtuous view of itself - would have fought on and did nothing wrong. In fact, statements by Ramsey officials proclaim the school district's sense of pride in its anti-bullying work. While it's true that this harm occurred six years ago, and things are presumably (and hopefully) somewhat better in Ramsey, it's an outrage for them to take that stance at this point in regard to this case. They could at least acknowledge that there were problems back then. And no district of which we're aware is functioning perfectly in regard to this issue, though Ramsey apparently feels it is. Read the article ...

Ramsey case 4-19-12

4-17-12: More on "Bully" - a caution!

While the movie "Bully" is undeniably powerful and is helping to increase awareness of the problem, we've previously expressed concern about the plans to show the movie in schools or - an even wider impulse - to ensure that all children (including of younger ages) see it. There are two risks: that the movie ends up functioning as a "one-shot" approach to bullying, in which kids are hyped about the issue without having good measures in place to address the problem, and the risk of copycat suicides. Attached below is a very helpful, solid set of points about the movie, along similar lines, with resources, written by Beth Reis, an anti-bullying advocate from Seattle's very good and longstanding Safe Schools Coalition.

Bully the movie - a caution

3/30/12: "Bully" (the film)

You have probably seen the vast media coverage of the pending release to theaters (and schools) of the documentary "Bully", by all reports a compelling and motivating telling of the stories of several targeted youth. The documentary was assigned an 'R' rating by the Motion Picture Association of America, a rating which most believe would keep it from ever been shown to students in schools, a widely projected use of the film. So there have been very active attempts to get the MPAA to reverse (lower) its rating (e.g., to PG), some of those attempts led by students (one in particular, in California). One issue the wide coverage doesn't address is whether the film is good for students to see. Our (Coalition) position on schools' use of various media (e.g., theater productions, or what we call 'auditorium programs') to address bullying is to question whether it is always appropriate to do so. We've generally felt that unless the school adults (e.g., staff, admin) have first done strong work to strengthen school culture and prepare to support targeted students, bringing in outside media or presenters to dramatically highlight the issue of bullying can be problematic. If the issue of bullying is highlighted, but in fact the school is not prepared to adequately address the issue, we've felt that students who are vulnerable or hurt may actually be harmed to some degree by the combination or the focus on them and their own heightened expectations and the school's inadequate response. We anticipate that the documentary will be widely deployed. Let's see what happens and whether it helps ... Meanwhile, here's a good article about the situation from the LA Times.

the "Bully" documentary

Now that the film "Bully" has opened, to very, very wide publicity, with some (e.g., AO Scott in the Times) saying that its release is a significant step in the growth of anti-bullying work as a "social movement", the initial feedback (e.g., reviews, viewer response) has been so far extremely positive. The headline on today's NY Times review (by Scott) is especially pleasing, from an advocate's point of view: The emphasis on adults (called "clueless" in the headline) who run and staff schools, as well as other authority figures, is exactly right. In fact, we (adults) are all responsible for what we allow to happen to kids, and I distinctly don't mean parents. The primary responsibility actually belongs to us when we are in our 'work' or 'community' roles, and our responsibility extends to all the kids who aren't 'ours' (as well as our own, at home). Anyway, here's the Scott/Times review.

Times review of Bully 3-30-12

3/12 (new items on 'News' page - see link at left)

3/10/12: A concern about suicide.

       It is hard to dispute - and I wish it were not so - that in these past decades of increasing awareness about bullying, we have seen an increase in school shootings linked to bullying, and an increase in suicides in which bullying has been identified (including by some of those who died by suicide) as a factor. In fact, in the U.S., that increased awareness of bullying is primarily post-Columbine, which means only since 1999, or 13 years as of next month - April 20th. Fortunately, both school shootings and youth suicide remain uncommon events. But each one is still a huge event, not only for the families, but for all of us. The field of bullying prevention is, in fact, notoriously tragedy-driven. If it were not for the close-in-time suicides of three youth about 40 years ago, Dan Olweus - the founder of the field - would not have had the necessary support to do his groundbreaking work. And in the U.S., it is arguably only because of Columbine that we have had an adequate focus on this problem. Each new tragedy - including the suicides - spurs a new wave of focus and effort to address the problem.

        It has been pointed out by multiple writers - it is widely believed - that it was the 2009 suicide of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi that led to the 2010-2011 enactment and signing of NJ's new anti-bullying law. That law was passed with the widest bipartisan legislative support of almost any bill in NJ history (only one 'no' vote), passed by a Democratic party majority legislature and signed into law by a Republican Governor. In the two years since Tyler Clementi's death, we have seen - all over the U.S. - a number of new suicides (as well as a few more school shootings). We must consider these deaths, not only in relation to efforts to address bullying, but fully. A full consideration would lead us to think about the context for these acts, and the responses to them, and confront fully the issue of whether the attention being part to those acts - both the quality and the intensity of that attention - is leading to so-called 'copycat' homicides and suicides.

         To start, we know that the phenomenon of suicides spurred by attention paid to suicides is real. When celebrity suicides occur, for example, there is often an increased rate of suicides which follow. When suicides attract positive attention, the effect is increased. When one can identify with the suicidal act and person, the effect is increased. Especially when suicide seems to accomplish a desired outcome, such as a Tibetan monk suicide making a well-noticed protest statement against Chinese occupation of Tibet, or the suicide which seemed to be a starting point for the 'Arab Spring' protests, other suicides follow. Suicides which attract major positive (however tragic) attention to bullying would seem poised to engage the same dynamic. When a huge celebrity such as Lady Gaga focuses the world's attention on the death by suicide of a teenage fan, honors the youth and cites the death, among other factors, as a spur to powerful (and helpful) ensuing acts, and when the suicide of a Rutgers University student is commonly cited as a spur to the development of a great new anti-bullying law, one risks capturing the attention of others who may think of emulating the suicidal act.

           In reality, suicide is typically multi-determined. That is, most suicide is an outcome of multiple factors, commonly including a history of depression, and multiple stressors. Having said this, there is also no doubt that bullying as one of those stressful factors can be a spur to suicide. See the linked article, below, for the very latest (March 2012) study to show a strong link between bullying and suicide. From a social norms theory perspective, one could argue that it is critical, when apparently bullying-related youth suicides occur, that the information conveyed to the public, and especially to other students, should clearly convey the facts mentioned above, prominent among them being that suicide is uncommon and that suicide is multi-determined.

            So ... this is a complex issue to raise. And it is not clear that even if we are right to have concern about a link between shootings and suicides and the attention we in the anti-bullying movement pay to such tragedies, what, if anything we can and should change in our approach. The ideal, of course, would be to address bullying so thoroughly and effectively that we remove bullying as a stressor capable of contributing to youth homicide or suicide, or at least that we identify the stressor of bullying so early in a target's experience that the bullying is ended and the youth supported long before suicidal thoughts arise. In the meanwhile, it could be argued that responding to a tragic bullying-related death by helping those still living, in the name of those who have died, is a way of giving meaning to the death. It is mainly for the families of youth who have died to decide whether this is so, of course, but some indeed have already said so.

            I write this mainly to make the issue visible. It is worth thinking about.

bullying and suicide study 3-12


3/7/12: A month's worth of items (catching up ... ).

1. GREAT NEWS!! (We need more details, but a great development ... )

As the attached article describes, there was an announcement yesterday that Governor Christie and Legislators (bi-partisan, we're told), have decided to provide initial funding (a million dollars, as a start) for the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, and reaffirmed their commitment to the law. This is a wonderful development (and a fine response to the recent Council on Local Mandates ruling). Not surprisingly, the press conference featured Governor Christie standing next to Steven Goldstein, Director of Garden State Equality, who has played a critical role in every aspect of the law's development (and now preservation and extension). GSE is NJ's largest civil rights organization, and has had numerous legislative successes in NJ. Bullying in schools is a severe threat to the quality of life, and life itself, of young members of the lgbt community, and it is a very welcome sight to see such public acknowledgement of Steven's work and influence on this issue. The announcement indicated that a Task Force will be formed to address the further implementation of the law, including any changes that may be desirable. Our hope is that any such changes will only strengthen the law. Here's an article about the agreement.

announcement on the law 3-7-12

2. DOE recommends an anti-bullying program:

Last month, Assistant Commission Cerf of DOE sent out a letter to all schools (public and charter) suggesting the schools consider using an anti-bullying program called "Roots", the work of a Princeton University psychology professor, Betsy Paluck, who has expertise in approaches to public health issues using a social norms approach. Simply (perhaps too simply) put, such approaches attempt to influence behavior by providing messages to specific groups (eg students) about what behaviors are normative (e.g., commonly occurring) for people in the group (and what are not). Social norms interventions for bullying have included, for example, conveying to students messages (eg thru posters, etc.) indicating that most students do not bully peers. Social norms advocates believe, for example, that the widespread and increasing attention paid to bullying inevitably conveys to students that bullying is common (more common than it actually is, such advocates believe) and that such beliefs lead to more bullying occurring. This is not to say that Dr Paluck specifically has any of those beliefs - I'm just trying to explain the general approach. Dr Paluck indeed has a project which addresses bullying, called "Roots", and this is the program Commissioner Cerf is encouraging schools to explore/bring in. It's not clear how Dr Paluck would be able to respond to multiple requests, if many came - for example in terms of funding, staffing, supporting, etc. But it's still striking that DOE seemed to be outright endorsing a particular approach - among the many available - which, while reasonable, would not yet be considered by most to have established efficacy for addressing bullying. The other issue has to do with how DOE makes use of available resources. That is, there are a number of key experts on bullying who would be willing to help DOE ramp up its efforts to strengthen schools to address bullying, whether involving specific pre-designed approaches embedded in research programs (as "Roots" is), or providing technical support and guidance to organize and focus bullying-relevant and school climate-relevant aspects of schoool functioning. Such experts were taken by surprise seeing the Cerf letter. Nonetheless, we appreciate the intent of any DOE efforts to help schools address bullying, and Dr Paluck is certainly an expert who could contribute much. Anyway, here is the letter and some material about Paluck's work.

Roots and the DOE letter

Paluck work

3. "Bully" the documentary:

You have probably seen the vast media coverage of the pending release to theaters (and schools) of the documentary "Bully", by all reports a compelling and motivating telling of the stories of several targeted youth. The documentary was assigned an 'R' rating by the Motion Picture Association of America, a rating which most believe would keep it from ever been shown to students in schools, a widely projected use of the film. So there have been very active attempts to get the MPAA to reverse (lower) its rating (e.g., to PG), some of those attempts led by students (one in particular, in California). One issue the wide coverage doesn't address is whether the film is good for students to see. Our (Coalition) position on schools' use of various media (e.g., theater productions, or what we call 'auditorium programs') to address bullying is to question whether it is always appropriate to do so. We've generally felt that unless the school adults (e.g., staff, admin) have first done strong work to strengthen school culture and prepare to support targeted students, bringing in outside media or presenters to dramatically highlight the issue of bullying can be problematic. If the issue of bullying is highlighted, but in fact the school is not prepared to adequately address the issue, we've felt that students who are vulnerable or hurt may actually be harmed to some degree by the combination or the focus on them and their own heightened expectations and the school's inadequate response. While of course the enactment of the new law in NJ has increased the likelihood of an adequate school response, no law can ensure that is the case. So, looking ahead, we anticipate that the 'R' rating will be changed and that the documentary will be widely deployed. Let's see what happens and whether it helps ... Meanwhile, here's a good article about the situation from the LA Times.

the "Bully" documentary

4. Minnesota settlement in bullying case:

The story of what happened in Anoka-Hennepin school district (near Minneapolis, Minnesota) is both strange and sad. Giving in to misguided (and biased) pressures, the district took stances which seemed to justify inadequate support of lgbt youth. Six families sued, and an expensive (for the district) settlement ($270,000) was reached. It took a federal investigation (Departments of Education, and Justice) but the district agreed to strengthen its approach to bullying, with a specific focus on lgbt students, and to hire a f/t staffer to work on bullying prevention. Here's an article about the settlement, from the NY Times.

Minnesota settlement - Times

5. A great! new book: "The Bully Society"

I'm midway through reading a brand new book I wish I'd written but I'm thrilled Jessie Klein, the author, did: "The Bully Society." The author, a sociologist and social worker from Adelphi University, with K-12 in-school experience, convincingly argues (with data, interviews and analysis) the case we've repeatedly made here - that childhood bullying is both a marker and cause of a host of societal problems. She presents an interesting review of school shootings, suggesting that the problem is rapidly increasing. The author clearly 'gets it' and consequently the book is strong on all issues: She points out the relation between homophobia and inadequate addressing of bullying by school staff, talks about hazing and its relation to the culture of all sports, describes the wide range of ways in which bullying exists and the subtleties of its expression, and never loses her focus on the responsibility adults have - and especially those who direct and staff schools and other youth settings - have for children's violence. She's especially strong on gender issues, the impact of bullying and its antecedent conditions on gender identity and the role bullying plays in the lives of both boys and girls. Klein's sociologist perspectives allows her to make sense of a complex phenomenon, and integrate a wide range of theories and views, while her clear writing lights up every point for the reader. She is definitely an advocate, but the passion is anchored by the quality of her reporting - the details of her interviews and research. This is a great book! We should promote wide readership of it - it's directly helpful to the cause. In addition to the praise I render here, here (linked below) is a good interview with the author, from Salon, that also makes clear why the book is so good:

Salon interview with Klein

6. NJDOE training materials:

This is a very belated posting, but it seems evident that parents and professionals would benefit from access to the attached Powerpoint (100+ pages!) which DOE used in its anti-bullying coordinator trainings conducted back in September. The materials are reasonably comprehensive, starting with a breakdown of what's required (from DOE pov) b/o the new law, but including attention to the critical underlying issue of strengthening school climate. The material has some oddities and inadequacies in places, and conveys a very legalistic feel, but on the whole is a helpful, exceedingly detailed overview (as DOE documents tend to be). For a parent who feels unclear about what is 'officially' expected of schools, this document will answer some questions. One point parents may find striking is to compare the elements officially required to what their school actually has in place. One concrete but important example of a common discrepancy is the law's and DOE's clarity about schools being required to post on their websites (on the home page, no less) the anti-bullying policy (which posting should also - by any reasonable standard - include the contact information for the school's anti-bullying specialist and the anti-bullying coordinator at the district level). Any scan of several school and district web pages will easily identify schools (and districts) in which that information is not visible. (And there are other 'discrepancies' of course.) But nonetheless, this is potentially helpful, and therefore posted here.

DOE training material

7. Engaging parents:

Attached is a very good, short article from Edutopia focused on how to engage (or involve) parents more in school life. This is a very important issue for anti-bullying advocates. Typically, parents are 'under-involved' in school life. That is, after about 3rd grade, it becomes increasingly hard to find parents physically present and involved in most schools, and school activities. School staff and administration commonly explain this relative absence of parents by 'blaming the victim'. That is, they tend to attribute the absence of parents to parental lack of time or lack of motivation or disinterest. A more accurate, 'systems' (or social environment) explanation would be that schools do not make a sufficient effort to engage parents, including conveying to parents that they are critical to school functioning (and not only by being good parents with their children at home, but in being present at school and involved in daytime school activities) and making them feel welcome. The exemplar of such parental disengagement in schools is the sparse involvement of parents in most 'pta's (parent-teacher associations or parent-teacher councils). That is, in most schools, the regularly held 'pta' or 'ptc' meetings may have 20 or 30 parents present, even in a school with 400 or more kids (the annual 'budget meeting' may have more, but rarely more than twice that number of parents). Again, when asked about this, in our experience, most administrators or staff 'blame' the parents (e.g., lack of motivation or time). But the more accurate explanation would be that there is typically no staff member of the school who has it as a critical element of their job to nuture and expand parent involvement, using a variety of means (including consulting with marketing experts in the community or at local colleges, rearranging and rescheduling ptc gatherings to make them more convenient, creating live streaming options for school activities and meetings, etc. etc. etc. As a most current example, the school 'safety' (or climate) teams which the new anti-bullying requires are rarely adequately 'staffed' with parents (even though the law explicitly requires at least one parent be involved, and sets no limit on how many could be involved). Anyway, this short article (linked below) has some good tips for increasing parent engagement.

parent engagement - Edutopia

8. Compilation of letters on bullying, in NY Times (by Stuart Green)

Here's a Word document compiling the letters. Sometimes short is best, and these letters provide brief commentary to some of the bullying-related events noted in the Times over the past several years. (I'll also post letters to the Times or other publications by other Coalition members. If you're a Coalition associate and have published such letters, please assist me in identifying them, to reprint them here.) Meanwhile ...

Letters NY Times - SG thru 8-11


1/30/12: Great response to a bad decision!

There's been a wonderful response to the recent decision challenging the anti-bullying law as an unfunded mandate by the Council on Local Mandates. Schools have been calling to say that the law has been a success in focusing more attention on bullying, helped student behavior improve and school climate get stronger, and - as we've all moved past the initial adjustment period - that concerns about over-reporting and time management have diminished. Most notable and welcome has been Governor Christie's response (see attached), reaffirming his commitment to the law. Advocates and legislators have already gone to work to address the Council's concerns. Meanwhile, we should all be clear that the law remains in effect!
Gov Christie


1/27/12: Challenge to the new law is upheld! (a bad decision)

An appeal of the new anti-bullying law by several school districts to the Council on Local Mandates succeeded today. See the article from the Record, linked below, and also visit the Council website to review the entire record of the decision (and background documents). In essence, the Council agreed with the school districts that the new law imposes inevitable financial costs on schools/districts without the legislature having provided any funding. Our (Coalition) view is that adequately (excellently!) addressing bullying is fundamental to what it means to be an educator and have a school. This is because bullying - as an aspect of school climate - threatens and diminishes every aspect of student functioning, in all students (not only those directly targeted), including academic performance. Further, we believe it is unconscionable and immoral that adults would create, staff and run a school without ensuring that the children are adequately supported, included and protected, especially those most at risk. If a school spends money on anything, it should be funding and supporting attention to violence prevention and the care of those at risk or already hurt first and foremost. But the Council (and, dreadfully, some school districts and administrators) don't agree. And now a state Council does something essentially bureaucratic, however reasoned, by issuing a ruling which will allow some (many?) schools in NJ to irresponsibly and shamefully avoid taking adequate care of the children they serve. Here are the links:

Record article 1-27-12

And here is the Council website:

Advisory on Bullying - from the Coalition's new Expert Advisory Group

See the attached documents: an advisory for school leaders and staff, and a second document providing more detail about the Group. The document is now being widely distributed through NJ education and community organizations, and shortly via media. While guidance is coming to schools from many sources, including DOE, we felt it important to create a series of documents which provide evidence-based, bedrock guidance for schools. The Advisory Group consists of college and university experts on school climate, bullying and related issues, along with various other (Coalition) experts. The first document is an overall guide to the issue, all in a neat two pages, easy to reproduce. Subsequent documents will address multiple aspects of the problem (and its solutions) in even more detail, released over the coming weeks and months. The Group is led (Coordinated) by Dr. Maurice Elias, of Rutgers University, a widely known and highly acclaimed NJ (and national) expert on in issues of school climate, and bullying.

Advisory Group Document 1

Cover Note for Advisory Document 1

Advisory Group Document 2

New! Rutgers Teleseminar on Bullying of Children with Disabilities

Hosted by Maurice Elias, and featuring Millicent Kellner and Stuart Green.


Items posted 1-12

1. The importance of GLSEN (the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network).

Several recent postings provide another good opportunity for emphasizing the importance of the work of GLSEN to the anti-bullying movement (and therefore to children). First, there is the upcoming (next week!) annual No Name-Calling Week (recently expanded, as you'll read, into a year-round activity). Second, the notice about No Name-Calling Week, attached below, also describes GLSEN's upcoming (March) annual legislative conference in Washington, DC. This activity, fully funded, provides for lots of students and anti-bullying activists to gather in DC, hone their organizational skills and then helpfully pressure legislators to help children by supporting anti-bullying legislation and activities. Third, GLSEN has issued another of its very helpful, influential and well-done surveys emphasizing the harm done to children by anti-gay attitudes and bullying. The notices and survey report are attached, below.

No Name-Calling Week and DC Conf

GLSEN study 1-12

2. Just brought to our attention by an advisor to the Coalition, is an important court decision from July 2011. Here's a comment by Jerry Tanenbaum, Esq.:

The Court applies the Tinker “First Amendment in schools”’ analysis to a student-on-student harassment case as I had hoped would be the case – holding that where the off campus speech specifically targets a class mate in a way that involves other classmates, a school district has authority to punish such speech notwithstanding the First Amendment.

The facts are legally helpful for those advocating for victims of bullying, because as compared to what we often see in our practices, the bullying was relatively tame and had as little to do with school as possible – the bullying was entirely web-based, it occurred entirely off campus, did not involve any school equipment, and lasted only about 24 hours.  The victim went to school the next day to complain and then went home for one day because she was embarrassed.    

The 4th Cir. held that these facts were sufficient to eliminate First Amendment protection from the bullying speech because it was foreseeable that the web page would substantially interfere with the school’s mission to educate the targeted child.

Here is a link to the full description of the case.

W Va cyberB case 7-11

Items posted 12-11

A new program started by Education Law Center (ELC), with Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, with the involvement of the Coalition: Pro Bono Law Project (for bullying cases). This project was envisioned by the Coalition ten years ago but the time has never been right until now, and ELC deserves all credit for getting it done! The project involves providing free training on bullying for lawyers who agree to devote pro bono (charity) time to families who need legal representation in dealing with schools in which their children have been hurt (bullied - repeatedly assaulted and terrorized over months or years, with schools having failed to prevent or adequately respond). This might involve a lawsuit, in the end. The hope is that when parents, most of whom lack the resources to engage an attorney for help, can access legal help more easily, the involvement of lawyers will produce more and better school attention to the problems of the bullied child. Ideally, no lawyers would ever have to be involved because schools would be on top of these issues in a timely and adequate way. That, after all, is the core intent of the new law, and all advocacy efforts. Meanwhile, dozens of lawyers attended the training conducted Nov 29th, hosted by Rutgers Institute for Professional Education. See the attached notice for the training. One case is already underway, more likely to follow. A related project (to begin shortly) involves providing training for expert witnesses who agree to provide service on a pro bono basis.

Pro Bono law project

A federal Department of Education report was just issued this month, in which the nation's anti-bullying laws are analyzed. NJ's is essentially affirmed as the strongest in the U.S., in several aspects. The report is well done and worth reading.

Fed DOE law analysis

NJ Department of Education has finally issued its guidance to schools for interpretation and implementation of approaches to bullying and enacting of requirements of the new law. It's late but well done, full of useful points and discussion. It's an impressive piece of work by DOE. The big missing piece is discussion (and actual availability) of an adequate structure for ongoing technical assistance and support. But DOE still deserves credit for this very detailed (80 pages!) and good in many aspects (e.g., urging - in effect - that schools establish structures for more support of LGBT students, for one thing) report. It's appreciated, even now.

NJ DOE report

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