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Stuart Green on Needing More Bullying Laws

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Stuart Green, Director of NJ Coalition for Bullying Awareness, Talks to NoBullying.com about the importance of raising awareness on all things Bullying from hazing, cyber bullying to Bullying Laws. 

Below is a transcript of the full interview on Bullying Laws done by Ciaran Connolly, Co-Founder of NoBullying.com, also found here and here

Introduction

SG: My name is Stuart Green and I am the founder and director of New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention whose website is www.njbullying.org . We do a number of things explained on the website but a good way to describe what we do is we are an informal networking association of organizations concerned about bullying, primarily childhood bullying , almost all of which is bullying in schools. So, that is our focus and the mission of the organization is really to heighten awareness of bullying as a common serious problem of school age children and to advocate for effective bullying prevention approaches primarily in New Jersey. So, the organization itself started right after Columbine. So, that was April 20th 1999 in the US. I should say that my sort of the work I do with the coalition is essentially volunteerism; it is not something I get paid for. My day job so to speak is medical education. I direct a part of a medical education function for a health system in New Jersey. The hospital where I am based where I also see patients and at the time right after Columbine, I was looking for a way for the hospital to use its resources in helping addressing the issue of childhood bullying, just a sort of corporate citizenship in community development, and as soon at the time there was a coalition of some kind that we could join and participate in addressing this issue.

Again, right after this terrible violence had taken pace in Columbine that seemed bullying related and when there was no such organization but everyone I spoke to said they wanted us to call back if any one started such a thing, so we started the coalition and since then we have had regular sort of education functions for hundreds of people at a time, some smaller meetings that bring together people to do specific projects. Example of those projects are we can be in an advisory group of educator concerned about bullying from almost all of New Jersey’s colleges and universities and together that advisory group generated three core documents about buying which are on the website and which are widely distributed in New Jersey and other states as well . Several of our organizations came together and formed a pro-bono or charitable law project for families whose children were hurt but could not afford private attorneys and that initiative has helped a number of families with private legal advocacy in their situations. I organize an annual conference that brings together lawyers from across the state to be educated about bullying and encouraged to address the issue. So, those are some examples of some of the projects we do. There is also a hotline that is maintained and everyday for the past fourteen years, that hotline rings with a few calls from parents of children who have been hurt. Sometimes also from schools or others looking for information or help and I would say those phone calls from parents of children who have been hurt is a major continuing driving force behind this work and attention to the issue they are in. So, those are some introductory marks about the coalition and myself and I will be glad to answer any question that you may have or discuss any issue you want.

At some point if you like I can restate the point about the concept of who bullies who that we were talking about a little bit earlier (a gap talking about echo on the line ). The issue has to do with the concept that is sometimes put forward by people that says that children, such as students in the school, bully teachers and I had that concept come up here sometimes in meetings with our own. I was in a meeting once with our own department of education in New Jersey and someone at the meeting from the department of the education raised the issue of students bullying teachers and from my point of view and our point of view, that is really a misunderstanding of what bullying is. Bullying is primarily, at least according to our reading of the literature and understanding of the issue, bullying is primarily an institutional phenomenon. It has to do with the social environment   that people find themselves in or have to be in. That would apply to any institution; students in a school, children in a youth correctional institutions, adults in prison adults in workplaces. Any social, any institution, of course all institutions have environments like what we call.

When we talk about schools, we talk about culture and the climate of the school. So, the culture is the way we do things here and the climate is the ceiling that the place has to the people in it or visited it. How warm, how cold, how welcoming, how not and it’s really the culture and climate of institutions, meaning the way institutions do things, that is a primarily determinant of whether bullying takes place and how adequately it is addressed or not when it occurs and it really is the people who run the institutions, in case of a school the administrator and staff, more than the children in the institution for example that determine the culture and climate. Bullying of course, as we understand, is always a power phenomenon. The person being hurt having less power than the person or people hurting them. That phrase “the imbalance of power” that characterizes bullying. So, there is no doubt that teachers can and do get hurt sometimes by youth and just as sometimes police get hurt by people they are dealing with in the public and correctional officers in the prison can get hurt by prisoners. So, it is not that harm doesn’t occur but the issue is bullying. That is a proper way to understand it. We would argue that it’s not, that really the power imbalance that always reflects the culture and climate of the institution, the way the institution does business and the adults in charge of the place that create those conditions and are primarily responsible for it. So, that’s is really what bullying is and the analogy that I used before is that some people talk about minorities being racist towards majorities and I think that is a similar kind of misunderstanding because racist behaviour, just like bullying behaviour, is basically about power and it’s the people in charge of institutions, the majorities in a setting, that really determine the way that institutional power flows. So, that is my issue with the concept of teachers bullying and I comment also that the nature of what bullying is.

On Bullying

CC: Very interesting! A great service and your website is amazing. We spent many hours on it and it is good to see a service like that being provided for fourteen years. Do you see bullying as big an issue today as it was fourteen years ago when you started your mission?

SG: Well, there are problems with that issue in sort of numbers and the problem is that of course over the past years, since the issue started to be addressed in the modern era in Norway and in the US – we have only been addressing the issue seriously since Columbine, so that’s only these fourteen years and awareness of the issue and of its importance has really only occurred over these last, I would say, ten years or so. If you go back for example and look back at the literature, the academic literature, you look at a journal such as pediatrics or you look at any of the academic journals in medicine or psychology, you find that once you go back more than ten to fifteen years ago, there is virtually no mention of the issue under any guides. Very little mention of the issue of institutional violence or violence in schools or peer violence or bullying; virtually no articles.

Also going as far back as you like and then of course over the last ten or fifteen years and increasing every year, there has been a flood of the articles reflecting all the studies that are now being done or have been done for a little while on bullying. It is an amazing literature when you look at it as a whole because virtually every new study that comes out confirms the incredible importance of this issue, of the violence of which people are exposed to, of which bullying is really the most common form of violence and as a recognition of the importance of it has grown particularly on the part of professionals, physicians, psychologists, others and educators. There has been more and more attention paid to it including the laws that now have been passed now I think exist in forty eight states in the US but as recently as five or ten years ago, only existed in twenty states and before that in none.

So, there has been more attention paid to the issue and when you pay more attention to the issue of course you have an impression that the phenomenon is happening more and you begin collecting data on it for the first time. So, that gives you the impression that there’s more of it is happening but the issue of whether there is more bullying going on now than there was in the past is very difficult to determine. You know psychologist have a concept called ceiling effect and that concept, what that means is a statistical phenomenon. It says that if you have something that is occurring at a very high rate, it becomes very difficult to spot differences in the way in which it varies because the entire phenomenon is sort of in its prevalence, its numbers, its occurrences, up in the ceiling. It is very high, all of it. So, it becomes very hard to spot the variability and bullying is like that. It is so common, so incredibly common, that to say that there is less of it still means that there is an awful lot of it at any point along the line and we don’t have the data really to know because prior to the 1980s, everywhere in the world nobody was looking at this. There wasn’t even a concept for it really and the only concepts we had about buying prior to about the late seventies or early eighties were so mistaken, so misunderstood, in term of understanding peer violence. We usually refer to these concepts sort of the lord of the fly myth about bullying, the notion of Tom Brown’s school day sort of notions.

Mean Behaviour and Bullying Laws 

The idea that this kind of mean behaviour was endemic back then and natural for children to engage in. So, also the idea that we can do anything about it was an entirely new concept basically introduced by the work of Dan Olweus in Norway in the late seventies and early eighties. I don’t think anybody was looking at rates of bullying until very recently in the modern era and in The United States maybe for the last ten years or so. So, for us to be able to say whether this was more common in the past than it is now or less common in the past that it is now, is very difficult. The one thing we can say is when there are new forms of bullying that literally didn’t exist before and an example of that would be cyber bullying, bullying via electronic means. Obviously, that wasn’t even possible at a certain point in the past and we do seem to have some data that suggest that electronic form of bullying, what we call cyber bullying, are the fastest increasing sort of forms of bullying. On the other hand, there is a little bit of a misunderstanding to that issue to think of it as something entirely new. When you take a look at this forms of electronic bullying by cell phone, texting, sexting,  alterations of web sites, postings, fake postings, all those kind of means. What you find when you look at these phenomena is that these negative relationships occurring in cyber space are anchored almost in most cases by negative relationships occurring in real space.

In other words, most of the cyber bullying that is going on is not occurring between strangers across vast distances, although that will sometimes occur, but almost all of it is occurring between kids if we focus on kids, between children who know each other from the same school buildings and the same communities and the electronic forms of bullying are either following or preceded by these negative relationships in real time and real space in those same buildings by negative behaviour in person relationship, accompanied by or exacerbated  by being in an electronic space. That’s one perspective on trying to answer this question of whether bullying is more or less common than it has ever been. There is another aspect to it. I can talk about it if you like and that aspect has to do with the way bullying is assessed, the way in which data on bullying is collected and the fact is we, as a whole all societies but the US is what I know best and I know New Jersey best of all, we do a very poor job of collecting data about bullying. Just talking about New Jersey for example, despite all the efforts and our efforts and others efforts on this issue, New Jersey still, the entire state and of course the department of education is primarily responsible for this sad state of affairs although they make some good efforts and there are some good people there but as a whole, the state of assessing bullying in New Jersey is terribly and completely inadequate. The major method we have for assessing the frequency of bullying in the state of New Jersey is a self-reporting mechanism, believe it or not. You may have the same thing going in Ireland if you have anything at all. It is a self-reporting mechanism in which school, school administrators specifically, are asked to voluntarily self-report to the state and to the Department of Education, incidents of violence that have occurred in their schools and the mechanism that is used to do this is called the EVVRS (The Electronic Violence And Vandalism Survey Of The New Jersey State Department Of Education) and all schools have access to this and they are supposed to use it to report violence, not just  bullying but all violence; all fights and violence.

I should say all violence and vandalism and harassment, intimidation, bullying everything. You may, I am not sure if this is similar in Ireland or not, but certainly in The United States there is a direct relationship between how safe the schools and communities are perceived to be of course are in reality, but are perceived to be and real estate values. In other words, when somebody is contemplating buying a home or moving to a place, they want to move to a place where the community is very safe where there are low rates of violence, where the schools are beautifully well-run and kids behave themselves and you can imagine what happens to real estate values, among other things, when a school reports that it has a significant amount of violence. In other words, what I am really saying is that the self-reporting that goes on is for most part a sham. If you look at the results of the EVVRS each year and what it has done each year, it is obvious that this data is sick. On a recent EVVRS, at least 50% of all of the school districts of New Jersey, of which I think there are 600 or so, 50 % of those school districts reported that over the preceding year, there had been 0 to 2 incidents of violence, vandalism, harassment, intimidation and bullying that had occurred in their schools. As our research consultant Doctor Michael Green, no relation just a coincidence, but as he has stated and published, those rates of violence would make New Jersey the most peaceful geographical area that ever existed in the history of the world and yet each year, as required by law, the commissioner of the New Jersey State Department of education goes in front of the legislature, The Assembly Education Committee, and dutifully reports the figures reflecting on EVVRS and the next day all across New Jersey there are big headlines in the newspapers saying “Violence in schools is up” or “Violence in school is down” and it is all based on data that is completely inadequate to capture the phenomenon.

CC: Amazing! I don’t even think these figures are recorded here. So, while [they are] recorded and not accurate in New Jersey, we don’t even record those data at all. So it’s quite amazing that so many institutes are in denial or afraid to report the real figures for the impact it will have on their institution.

SG: So, hopefully, Ireland will soon rise to the level that you too can collect and report safe data. That will be a significant advance for you, right?

Media Attention to Bullying Laws and Cyber Bullying Laws

CC: Well, I don’t know again if you can say that. Paper exercise have no value at all, we all know that. We don’t even need to look at that. And do you think that the current media coverage, because of course we mentioned some incidents that are very famous or infamous around the world, do you think this media attention is helping raise awareness in America and other countries?

SG: Yes, I think the media attention on the whole is very helpful. The only time I become concerned about media attention is when uncommon phenomenon, for example the suicides that are seen bullying-related are given the tremendous attention. Sometimes I think that can have some harmful effects in terms of social norms and copycat violence and things like that and I do become concerned when I see the lives of children who are hurt very vividly portrayed in the media because of the media’s desire to always tell the story of course. I think that can have some harmful effects but generally I think it’s a good Idea when the behavior of schools and social institution that are not adequately addressing this issue are exposed. So, yes. I think overall the media has been helpful in these efforts.

CC: Since we’re talking about these incidents, we get to see of course when there has been a tragedy with gun related incidents and maybe it has often happened in the school where a young person went back to a school or into a school and taken the lives of others. Is that being collated to calling bullying or is that a different problem?

SG: Oh, no. It is not a different problem. In fact, there are studies over the last few years that clearly show that bullying, in other words the perception of children in the school that violence in the school is not adequately controlled – not being adequately addressed, is the number one cause of children carrying weapon to school. Now, in almost all those cases, these are children carrying weapons to school because of their feeling that they may be attacked and won’t be able to defend themselves. So, the school as a whole or school officials and teachers are not going to offer them that kind of protection and support which is not to justify it of course. No child should ever carry a weapon to school but at the same time there is definitely a relationship to this phenomenon of inadequately controlled school violence again of which the most common form is bullying. Now, the relationship with the sort of infamous school shootings that have taken place is not a hundred percent for sure. The Secret Service in The United States studied the relationship between bullying, victimization and school shootings and if I recall, the figures were high and their analysis is seventy five or eighty percent of the shootings is contributed to that but it wasn’t a hundred percent for sure. Of course, there have been some question raised by reporters or writers as to whether even the Columbine shootings were primarily bullying related. In my view and from what I’ve heard, they were significantly. Counterarguments do get made based on further follow up and reporting. So overall, I would say the answer is yes but of course there are some exceptions to that.

CC: Of course and have you seen or are you aware of long term effects on people who are bullied? Are we in a vicious cycle where we are taking young people and making them into adults who are teaching our young people, the next generation again, how to bully and we are in a cycle that we can never possibly break?

SG: This is absolutely true. The strongest literature we have, the strongest studies we have, are studies that repeatedly and consistently show the harm that this kind of victimization and exposure to violence have and there have been several threads of that over the years. So, one thing is the mere exposure to violence even if the violence is done to others. For example, literature that shows very important negative impact on children of even witnessing violence done to others even if not directly to themselves. There was an interesting study within the last few years that found and suggested, if the study findings are replicated, that children who were exposed to violence in the home for example, occurring to loved ones but not directly to themselves, suffered even more psychological damages than if they themselves were victims.

Whether or not that is true on replication, we do know from a lot of studies that exposure to violence as a child which is one of the main adverse childhood experiences that you can have, commonly has lasting effects on into adult life and functioning. I would just like to say something that is a sort of an advocacy, an advocate’s perspective on this issue. I can’t find a study that shows it yet but I will just say what my belief is about this. I believe that issue of inadequately controlled violence in schools, bullying as its most common form, actually is perhaps the major influence on all of our functioning as adults in the world. That bullying, I sometimes refer to it as violence engine, is sort of engine that drives much of the ensuing violence in the world. If you think about it this way, we stand as children and adapt 12 years of our lives in places that, of course having a school system that children can attend is a whole other issue because there are places where children don’t get to attend school and that is worse, but still children who attend school and I will just talk about The United States because that what I know best and Europe of course will be similar, we spend  12 years of our lives essentially locked up in the social  institution of schools in which violence is inadequately controlled, in which there are inadequate levels of support and protection and inclusion and nurturing for mentorship and out right violence inadequately controlled. In school for 12 years, we are required to be there by law, we don’t get leave and I think that exposure, that 12 years of exposure, has profound negative impacts on us as adults. I think that this experience of being in school in atmosphere of violence psychologically and physically accounts for a lot of the racism in the world, xenophobia, the fear of others, the fear of strangers, the tendency as adults to only want to be with our own kind and I think it has a lot to do with inhibited adult risk taking with couch potato behaviour with the reluctance of people to go out an experience life in the world in many cases.

I think it is a huge driving force that replicates itself over and over in adult life has a lot to do with all the other forms of violence that there are. Now, I can give you a study to support that, a border perspective, but there is a huge range of well-done studies that show the potentially lifelong impact of bullying victimization including in terms of many medical problems. Heck! There were just a study that this week came out in one of our American journals in which children who experienced functional abdominal problems that was correlated  with experiences of anxiety – anxiety disorders – and other problems into adult life and the fact is we know that a lot of abdominal or stomach complaints and problems that children come to doctors’ offices with are occurring because of these adverse childhood experiences including violence in school and again of which bullying is the most common form. There is a huge range of conditions in life and medical conditions which are either created by or made worse by harsh treatment by peers in schools. The answer to your question is an absolute very strong yes. We know that this behavior is harmful, sometimes extremely so, and of course the most extreme example of that would be the suicides that do occasionally and tragically occur related to this kind of treatment in schools.

School Bullying and Bullying Laws

CC: Very interesting and going back to your website, and again an amazing resource for anyone who wants to check out anything about bullying, you included verified schools on their anti-bullying policy. What is the most important thing for a school, a school is actually really pro-actively trying to educate its young people in anti-bullying doctorate, what are the most important things that the school could have or should have in place?

SG: Well, the number one thing that a school should keep an eye on is a concept called engagement or connectedness; that seems clear. In other words, the extent to which each student feels engaged in the life of the school and connected to the school. In other words very concretely, the question that ought to be asked of the child is “Is there an adult,” ideally there will be multiple adults but at least there is one, “is there someone in the school – an adult staff member who knows you as a person?”, of course you have to put it in appropriate language for the child, “but who knows you and cares about you?” and that gets operationalized in very obvious ways. Somebody, a staff member, a teacher, somebody whom you feel, from the child’s point of view, knows you, knows your preferences, your likes your dislikes, knows your interests, know things about you, things that are important to you and you are sure, as a child, cares about you. You know, sees you, checks in with you and engages you, helps you engage in the life of the school. We have very concrete examples of this issue inadequately addressed for many students.

For example, every year in school there are kids who sign up for school clubs and activities. You are familiar with that. You must have a version of that in Ireland. You join in this club or that club or you are in the school paper or whatever it is you doing but the fact is that at any given point in time during a year, you could do a chart for the school like a database and in that database you would see some kids who are involved in three-four-five activities and some involved in one or two but in every school in the world, in the US is and it’s what I know best, you would put up a database like that. Off to the right you will see the column zero and these will be the kids in the school who are signed up for no clubs, engaged in no school activities and who just come attend the classes and go home period and don’t do anything in between and those kids are very likely kids who will say no if they were asked that question of whether someone in the school, a staff person, who is a mentor and a caregiver essentially for them from the child’s point of view and those are the students who are very vulnerable and very much at high risk for all kinds of things. Not only being bullied but also for dropping out of school, for not performing academically as well as they are capable of; for all kinds of things and there is a huge percentage of kids in every school that are not engaged in the life of the school, do not feel connected to the school, do not have that kind of mentorship, don’t have that kind of feeling or relationship with a particular staff member or ideally multiple ones. I would say that if a school is going to strengthen its culture and climate in the direction that prevents and address bullying, that would be the number one thing to get a hold of; to systematically identify the most vulnerable and disengaged and unconnected kids in the school and make a plan, a very concrete measurable and actionable and immediate and urgent plan to engage those kids. So, you asked me what is one thing schools can do? Well, that’s one certain thing schools can do.

Bullying Laws and Young Adults

CC: Excellent! You mentioned colleges and universities earlier in our talk. Do you think even when young people leave their junior schools and when they go to college and universities and they are young adults, still face as much problems there as they did in school?

SG: I don’t know if as much. I mean we do seem to know that the peak years for bullying are the middle school years. Here in the US, it is seventh – eighth grade but certainly after those years, bullying is still very serious. In fact, there is an argument that the severity of the violence, psychological and physical, actually increases as kids get older. In high school years and beyond, you start to get hazing-related death and assaults. You get sexual assaults that are very severe and at a higher rate than sexual harassment that was earlier. The sexual harassment increases. So, in college as well you can get these kinds of events happening but the frequency of this kind of treatment may decrease, again we have very poor data, but the severity may increase but certainly this still goes on in college and of course in New Jersey we have the very famous and tragic case of Tyler Clementi, the college student at Rutgers who killed himself after being harassed and psychologically assaulted in essence by a class mate.

So, yes this is a big issue in the US and senator Lautenberg of New Jersey before he died was very good at trying to advance laws that mandated colleges to pay attention to this issue and one of the great things about the new New Jersey law, which we participated in developing and passing the anti-bullying bill of rights in New Jersey, it required that colleges participated at least in addressing this issue at the very least provide in pre-professional training on bullying for prospective educators. So, that’s all in a good direction and of course now there is a Tyler Clementi Foundation started by the family that is really helping achieve some things at Rutgers and elsewhere.

Advice

CC: If anyone was listening to us right now and they are being bullied or maybe a family member or someone is being bullied and the child can’t cope and deal, would you have any advice for them? What do you think they should do?

SG: This is a very difficult thing again because the primary reason for why bullying is occurring, most commonly not a hundred percent, is because of the culture and the climate of the place in which the bullying is occurring and even when it is occurring outside the institution. In other words, much of the bullying that takes place outside the school in the life of children is occurring between students who know each other from the same school and most of that, just as with cyber bullying, most of the bullying occurring off site is anchored or preceded or followed by these negative violent experiences occurring in the school. So, the school needs to be responsible for that and again one of the really good things about the new New Jersey law in its second year is that it required schools for the first time ever to address these issues when they become aware of them in the lives of children but this issue of what a child and family is supposed to do when a child is being hurt is very difficult because the way to think of it analogously is if somebody is being assaulted out in the community like mugging , you have that word in Ireland , being mugged. If someone is being hurt in the community, it is almost like the temptation is to have a conversation with the victim and say “What could you do or what could you have done to prevent yourself from having been mugged?”.

SG: And the point is that most of this behaviour that is occurring is not sort of preventable or stoppable through the action of the victims who are typically almost randomly chosen, targeted and focused on. It’s very difficult. What is responsible, of course, is the way the society and its institutions conduct itself, how adequately it addresses – prevention addresses – violence. So let’s focus in on kids in school because that is where most of this is taking place. So, the issue is what can a student who is being hurt by another student or students do to protect themselves and it is very difficult. The main thing that needs to happen is that the parents need to ideally insist, most powerfully insist when they get tighter with other parents, that the school, the administrators and staff adequately excellently prevent and address this issue and that will take care of most of it and when it does occur, the schools have to take a look at the incident that has occurred and take immediate steps to protect and support the student who is hurt, to really go after in the sense of meeting with and consequencing the child and children who participated in the violence and keep an eye on things to make sure that it indeed it stops happening and there is no retaliation. So, those are the things that the school needs to do. The parents themselves are in a very difficult place.

Typically, it is not very helpful when the parents of a child who has been hurt, call and discuss this with the parents of the children who have been doing the hurting. The typical response you get from those parents is some form of denial. It is very difficult for a parent of a child who is hurting other children to take a look at their own beloved child and say “Oh! This is somebody, a kid, who hurts other kids”. The tendency instead is to deny it or rationalize it or explain it away or in many cases of course people end up blaming the victim, thinking or pointing to something about them to which they falsely attribute the violence even though that the kid who got hurt is not responsible for what happened at all. As you can see, I am giving you a very inadequate answer because it is very difficult for people who are being hurt to ensure that they are not going to be hurt.

The best way of course is to have friends, to be engaged in the environment, to be active in the setting or the school and thereby acquire a lot of support but it is very hard for a single child for example who is isolated, hurt, may not have friends, targeted by other kids to change those circumstances by themselves. They need help doing it and it’s unconscionable that adults, educators and particularly the responsible for that child not just academically but socially and emotionally, to not have taken steps preventively or certainly once the incident occurs, to ensure that that child is well-supported including having friends and others to be engaged with and this is something that schools are perfectly capable of doing but they just tend not to do it and the fact is that addressing this issue ought to be the number one priority and responsibility of educators.

It is basic. It is 101; this is a fundamental responsibility of educators I always say and here is the final irony to all this. We now have studies that clearly show that when these issues of a child’s social and emotional status at school and whether they are adequately protected and supported and engaged and connected and so forth in the life of the school, the academics get stronger. In other words, there is a direct relationship between addressing these issues adequately and academic performance. If tomorrow morning all the schools in New Jersey forgot about teaching to the test and all of the money that is wasted on that and instead focused in improving the social and emotional status of the children in their care, test scores would zoom.

CC: And again I think society. I can understand the concept; society as a whole will benefit from the missing out on the long term problems that would be created and all the negative side effects. Actually, probably society as a whole is putting too much emphasis on test scores and results and grades and actually in 5 or 10 years, they are all insignificant but the person that the child becomes is with them their whole life. So, I understand your point. It is a very interesting concept and it actually make common sense when you stand and think about it. Well, we need a mindset change in our whole society to actually put that in place and that’s for sure.

SG: Yes, I think that is very well said. That is beautifully said and I agree with you totally.

CC: You see positive things changing in then New Jersey with the law and the schools starting to understand this? Is it starting to happen in New Jersey or have you a long way to go yet?

SG: I think both things you just said are absolutely true. Things are starting to change for the better in New Jersey. The new law has been very helpful and very appreciative. We are very appreciative to the legislators, very good and wise legislators who passed that law. It is not the last law we are going to need. So, we are thankful to that and things are starting to improve and of course things get better in other areas, that’d really to impact this issue. I mean hopefully soon in New Jersey we will have marriage equality and I think there as there are more legally married gay couples who I think more and more there will be children being raised in those families I think this will be, and in schools, certainly a lot of strength of awareness and good strong expectations for how schools address violence and protects and supports minorities in that population in particular and I think this will create higher expectations and more strength for supporting schools doing something with this issue. So, I think things are changing in a positive direction but at the same time I agree with the other thing that you said. We have a long way to go still. We are much more in the beginning of this social movement than we are at the end of it.

CC: Thank you again for all your time today. It has been such an interesting conversation and again if anyone wants to read more about what your coalition is doing, what is happening in New Jersey and the content that you are producing, we can send them to your website which is www.njbullying.org ?

SG: Yes and anyone who wants can feel free to contact us. It is [email protected].

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