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Warning Signs of Bullying: An Interview with Internationally Recognized Bullying Expert Michal Kolář

Feb 8 2018in Uncategorized, Whats New admin Comments Off on Warning Signs of Bullying: An Interview with Internationally Recognized Bullying Expert Michal Kolář

Dr. Michal Kolář is a psychotherapist who has been treating bullying for more than 30 years. He has created a special theory and methodology for the diagnosis and treatment of bullying at schools. He also works with the International and European Observatories on School Violence.
In my interview with Michal Kolář, he talked to me about the difficulty parents have when their children suffer from bullying. In his book, A New Way to Treat Bullying, Michal writes about the signals parents can look for if their child is a target of bullying. Michal says bullying signs can be difficult to detect and parents who notice that something is wrong with their child often find that it is very frustrating to get help from teachers and administrators.

Michal explains that when a parent tries to talk to teachers or administrators, they are quick to point fingers and tell them that their child provoked the situation or in some instances started it. It is common for a parent to hear there was not enough evidence, their child yelled or pushed the bully and no witnesses. Additionally, often times, when the target and the bully are both suspended and then come back to school, there are no consequences in place to protect the target from the bully or their friends.
If school polices are in place but do not provide teachers with specific consequences for bullying behavior, children are in jeopardy of being harmed. Many children, whether they have a good relationship with their parents or not have a difficult time admitting that other kids are mean to them or carrying out a campaign to ruin their reputations. A target of bullying often believes that somehow they caused the bullying or in some way deserved it. Michal says, “Admitting to an adult that other kids laugh, push or make fun of you can be a very shameful experience.” Making matters worse is a home environment where siblings or parents put down or ignore the child’s feelings, increasing their insecurities and low self-esteem.

Weekly, there are stories about parents who are shocked and saddened to learn that their child was a target of bullying. Their cries for help do not have to go unseen or undone by parents. In fact, “Individual signals do not necessarily denote bullying“, he explains. He places much more significance on the context of the situation, the repetition and frequency of symptoms. His work was written up for the Ministry of Education. (Guideline Minister of Education, Youth and Sports to prevent and address bullying among school pupils and school facilities)

Signs and Signals of Bullying
• The child does not have friends over or seems to have no friends.
• The child is subdued, sad and depressed.
• S/he suffers from poor sleep, sleep disorders and nightmares.
• They have a lack of interest in participating in sports, family dinners or events.
• Before going to school or after school, complains about headaches, stomach aches, etc.
• Many children visit a doctor or say they are sick before school to avoid bullies.
• Children may go to school or from school using detours.
• Students may come home with torn clothes, damaged or missing backpack & school aids.
• Make different excuses for losing lunch money and require more money.
• Children may be hungry after school even when snacks and lunch were provided at school. (Bully may have stolen lunch money.)
• Child cannot satisfactorily explain his injuries: a black eye, scrapes, bruises,
slight concussions, a broken or pulled bone, burns, etc.
• Sudden drop in grades and no interest in studying
• Threatens suicide or attempts it

”There are some children that do try to talk to their parents about their difficulties at school,” Kolář says. “In the beginning stages of bullying, there are cases when the child finds the strength and courage to talk to their parents. It is very important that when a child opens up about a humiliating experience that a parent should listen, show emotional support and take everything they say seriously. Unfortunately, many parents are act surprised when they first learn about the bullying. They often react inappropriately. The only right attitude is to stand firm in love for the child.”

Written by, Melissa Sherman, Executive Director, Beyond Bullies www.beyondbullies.org

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Sexual Bullying: Intimidation and Coercion on the Playground, Online and in the Media

Nov 17 2017in Home Page, Whats New admin Comments Off on Sexual Bullying: Intimidation and Coercion on the Playground, Online and in the Media

Sexual bullying is a form of bullying and harassment that humiliates a person physically, verbally or emotionally.  It includes unwanted touching, pinching, grabbing or slapping of body parts that are often downplayed by boys and girls. While it may be the first attempt at flirtation, the target may experience toxic shame.  This type of bullying is covert, underreported, overlooked by adults and happening every day on school campuses and online.

What we see now in Hollywood with Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and influential men in banking, media and congress, is merely a droplet in a very large pool of people who have used their power to intimidate, devalue and manipulate those that yield less power.

Bullying by definition is an imbalance of power and just like harassment, it is not consensual.  When girls tear each other apart, they usually make fun of another girls’ body or spread rumors about a real or perceived sexual encounter. A very common tale is spreading that someone is bisexual, gay or a lesbian.

These types of rumors have devastating consequences. At a time when girls are developing and are grappling with their feelings, wanting to fit in can become more important than standing up for someone who is being bullied.

In many cases, being a bystander can leave as many emotional scars as being the target of bullying. And not knowing how to intervene or what to do when you are a target of bullying can be humiliating. According to experts, more than half of bullying stops when someone intervenes. (Hawkins, Pepler, & Craig, 2001). Middle school girls are more likely to speak up but become less confident when no action is taken to stop bullying by adults.

While gossiping and spreading rumors is more common among girls, boys put more pressure on girls to send them a naked or a semi-naked photo otherwise known as sexting. Boys are more likely to disseminate these sexts to their friends when they breakup.

The consequences of sexting can be devastating and have resulted in many girls taking their own lives. The peer pressure to send sexts is very real. Think of it now as the equivalent of going steady. Sending a sext is very common among middle school and high school students today, and it is a way for boys and girls to show that they like each other.

Not going along with peer pressure can make you stand out, which is far worst for many girls than snapping a photo. In today’s fast-paced world, where youth are gleaning more of their self-worth from Instagram, celebrities and their environment, they need to learn proactive social skills and empathy to help them thrive.

Beyond Bullies works with schools, hospitals, counseling centers, city and county employees to identify, prevent and handle bullying.  For more information or to schedule a training, contact Melissa Sherman, Executive Director of Beyond Bullies at Melissa@beyondbullies.org.


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Presentación Para Los Padres Del New Heights Charter School in South Los Angeles

Mar 5 2017in Uncategorized, Whats New admin Comments Off on Presentación Para Los Padres Del New Heights Charter School in South Los Angeles

¿Cuántos de ustedes tienen un niño o niños que le han dicho que han sido intimidados?

Presentado Por

Melissa Sherman

Directora Ejecutiva

(424) 253-6702

Presentación Para Los Padres Del New Heights Charter School (click)

Beyond Bullies (BB), es una organización clasificada 501 (c) (3)sin fines de lucro y dedicada a objetivos como la intimidación y para empoderar a los jóvenes, padres y personas que trabajan con ellos mediante la creación de programas educativos y de prevención.

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SnapChat-New Platform for Bullies

Mar 5 2017in Uncategorized, Whats New adminTags:
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SnapChat is an extremely popular photo-messaging application (“app”), which allows users to send photos or videos and deletes them after 1 to 10 seconds. The idea, deleoped by Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy, was to take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of people. Once the Snaps are sent, they are presumably gone forever, and the sender nor the recipient has to worry about them afterwards. However, like everything else on the World Wide Web, users can skate around this feature-this time by taking screen-shots. SnapChat has recently admitted that the photos take several hours to be deleted from the servers.

Additionally, some hacks use the phone’s screenshot capabilities. Once a picture is sent to a contact, then that person can keep a screenshot of the image before it self-destructs. Then the contact has full control of the picture and can send it to anyone.  The person who sent it will have no idea that the picture still exists.  Recently, hackers have recently targeted SnapChat and it vulnerabilities. In one case, details of over a four million users were leaked to prove that it was possible to hack. In another, photos of smoothies were shared to all SnapChat followers without the user getting to know about it.


Some youth use SnapChat for sexting and sending suggestive or nude pictures to their peers. However, such images of children are illegal and minors can be charged distribution and possession of child pornography.


Like all the other murky corners of the Internet, SnapChat is also used for cypberbullying. A photo can be sent and after a few seconds, all evidence of the action is lost. Unfortunately, most victims forget to take screen-shots in the heat of the moment and this is another point that reduces the risk of being caught. Embarrassing photos, or photos comparing the victim to a derogatory item are the most common methods. For example, a photo of a classmate alongside a picture of a horse with large teeth could be sent to all the people in the school and my trigger more intense bullying toward the student. Moreover, threatening photos like those posing with weapons, can also be sent by bullies and succeed in silencing the victim.

What can parents do?

Children need to know early on that this is a problem, and that they will have to face consequences at some point. In fact, research shows that sexting has become a big problem among teens. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project as many as fifteen percent of teens between the ages of twelve and seventeen say that they have received a “sext” from someone they know. Meanwhile, 4 percent of those teens indicate that they also have participated in sexting by sending nude or nearly nude images of themselves to someone else via text message. Another study found that twenty-eight percent of fourteen to nineteen-year-olds said they had sent a nude picture of themselves through text or e-mail.

The need for educating children is dire. Be sure that kids know that once something is sent or posted, they have no control over where it goes or what happens to it, This is the internet, and so everything leaves a digital footprint and there is nothing as’ disappearing content.’

For more information about how to protect yourself or someone you know click http://beyondbullies.org/safety-zone/social-media/.


Written by Ravneet Sandhu

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Confessions of an ex-Bully

Jun 25 2016in Home Page, Whats New adminTags: , , , , , ,
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Confessions of an ex- bully

On many occasions, I have acted with hostile intent toward another. I have never expressed myself through physical aggression, but I have often used violent words against others. I have remained silent when I could have spoken up. I have reinforced belief systems that say certain people are better than others. I actively participated in a culture that valued the stereotypical- that is the beautiful, the wealthy and the powerful. To be cool was my primary purpose. Why did I do this? I wanted to be seen as all of the above. I wanted to be all of the above. I was unable to see my value in life without other people’s approval.

I excluded people from things I wanted to do and became deeply resentful if someone tagged along with my crowd who wasn’t a good representation of what I wanted to be associated with. I would be cold and indifferent, avoiding any intimacy. I would quickly find ways to get rid of them, and condemn them behind their backs. I considered outsiders, trying to get inside, as wannabes. They irritated me and their efforts embarrassed me. Why? Because I was just like them. I too felt like an outsider trying to get in. They reminded me of me- I detested the reflection. My personal effort to “belong” involved extreme dieting, years of bulimia, editing what I said to avoid judgment, editing what I wore to seem “cool”… I didn’t participate in school activities that were considered weird, I forged an identity according to the status quo and let everyone else define me.

I treated many of the people I went to high school with indifference, with a “justified” apathy. It was only years later I heard that my detachment had actually affected someone. A friend informed me that his brother’s girlfriend had attended school with me. She remembers me as a bully. Upon hearing this I felt defensive, but the truth eventually settled in. She was a victim of a culture with persecuted you for being different. I was a perpetrator of this culture. At best I kept silent and didn’t stand up for those who were struggling, at worst I wanted them to struggle. She didn’t tick all the boxes that we demanded you tick to be cool- therefore I treated her as inferior for my entire time in school. No, I didn’t say it to her face or taunt her actively. But I passively made her life hard, and for that, I take full responsibility.

What made me change? I suppose life happened and it served me a lot of humble pie. I struggled with alcoholism, ruined all my friendships and got asked to leave my educational institutions. I hit a dark bottom; emotionally, physically and spiritually.  At 19 I decided to try a new way of life, a sober one. As a result, I have made a full commitment to making amends for the harm I have caused others. In the past 4.5 years, I have really examined my part in the various judgments, resentments, and negativity I had fallen prey to. I see the ugliness of a life lived trying to meet standards that are not fair. I see the value of being kind, of trying to treat everyone as equal- of trying to get to know someone who I might initially see as “different”.

Whenever I am disturbed I am responsible for that disturbance, and it is my commitment to live from love, not from fear. When my fear says- run! Judge! Gossip! Love says stay, be curious, speak kindly. Ultimately, what helped me change was this: I realized that my desire to be beautiful, powerful and strong is not the problem. The issue lay in my definition of what it meant to be beautiful, powerful and strong. I saw beauty as a certain weight, a certain external aesthetic quality…having beautiful friends, meeting the standards of those who are living in denial or fear. I saw power in other people’s protection, and strength in the appearance of strength. Whatever the majority called strong, I called strong. I then dressed myself to look the part and threw nasty glances at everyone who failed to do so too. I was mad because it had cost me so much of my integrity to meet the standards of the dominant paradigm.

Today I see beauty in kindness, in compassion, in being original – in not living according to standards that reproduce prejudice, domination, and cruelty. I see power in humility, in striving to be true to myself. In being authentic. For what it’s worth, I have always admired the brave- before I ever knew I could be brave myself. Courage is not a feeling- it’s a choice, an action. I admire those who stand up for other people in the face of adversity. True strength lies in treating others as equals- regardless of race, creed, color, weight, class, sex, it lies in owning your own stuff. In asking yourself what motivates you. Fear or love, fear or love? One life- how do I want to live it?

I was miserable condemning people for not meeting standards that were flawed to start with. What sort of life is a life that demands you look a certain way, have a certain amount of money…the right sort of friends? I couldn’t decide what environment I was born into, what color my skin was, how tall I was back then or how tall I am now! How dare I make someone feel ashamed of any of the above? It says a lot more about me than it does about them!

I was useless at sport, just didn’t have the right coordination skills. The people who loved me anyway, despite my lack of coordination paved the way for me to treat others with the same respect. If only there were more people who could see past the badge of honor we wear for all the wrong reasons in high school, to the stuff that actually counts. I was ashamed of who I was. Thankfully I know better today, and try to live better. I try to be a woman of integrity and I build self-esteem by taking estimable acts. I am no longer ashamed of who I am, but this is contingent on me continuing to behave in a way that is loving, tolerant and open minded. In practicing self-honesty and honesty with others. For me, having the mindset of a bully left me miserable and lonely. I am sure it contributed to my alcohol abuse and undoubtedly left me with a lot of self-loathing.

I lacked consciousness of my behavior on many occasions. Unwittingly I made choices that hurt others I was at school with. Once I got sober and started to value consciousness, (we only have one life- why not be awake for it?), I developed greater empathy, compassion, and consideration. I don’t have to be drunk to be living half blind and asleep, and it is within everyone’s power to try and be present. Trying is all I can ever claim to do! Through trying to be present I have discovered that life is riveting, beautiful, fast and unpredictable. I realized there was a lot more thrill in being unconventional, in standing up for decency and in fighting bigoted tyranny.

The weak ones are the bullies, the hostile and the judgmental. The ones who proclaim strength and trample all over people who are unable to defend themselves. And I was one of them, driven by my need to be a cool kid. Thank God I realized that life is too short to be living from fear, living from a need to protect what would fade anyway. Material things will come and go, looks will fade, power relations will shift- but what remains is our connection to self and others. I believe in being the best version of myself, someone who I am proud to hold hands with every day for my entire life. I am not proud of being a bully, but I am proud of being someone who takes a stand against it.


Written by, Scarlett Moberly



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Ideas and Resources for Teachers

Jun 6 2016in Whats New admin Comments Off on Ideas and Resources for Teachers

Discipline Help Ideas and Resources
by Alan Haskvitz

Discipline is probably the most difficult of all areas to deal with as it encompasses issues that may be related to a vast array of difficulties that can try the expertise of the most experienced parent and educator. Contributing factors may include personal problems, improve medication, self-esteem issues, and peer pressure.

Indeed, in my 45 years of teaching at every grade level and nearly every subject I have had my fair share of problems all of which were unique in some regard, but needed to be dealt with in a manner that resolved the issues for all involved. With this in mind I put together a variety of free resources that may be of value in being proactive and help to prevent a discipline problem. If you have additional sites that you would like to share please email me at calcascares@gmail.com

Be Proactive
Essentially there are three main ways to deal with these issues starting with being proactive. First, let the students know behavior expectations early. From the start of the year be positive. Always look for ways to reinforce good behavior. Developing rapport with students is also essential. I used an information card that included the usual contact numbers and such items as favorite games, people, family pets, and other information that would enable me to get to know the students better. If students feel you are approachable it helps eliminate problems and also encourages them to confide in you of concerns that would otherwise be kept secret.

Consequences are important, but they need to be appropriate and consistent, but always leave yourself room for accommodations depending on the circumstances. The ideal combination is to be firm and fair and calm.

Perhaps the most important way to prevent behavior issues is to establish good communications with the student, parent, and administration. Keeping them informed of issues can help prevent an escalation that can take the joy out of teaching. I try to contact parents the first week of school and have a handout for Back to School Night that explains classroom expectations. As well, I document what I have done to keep the parties involved aware of the situation.

Expect the Unexpected/Teachable Moments
One day some students in my classes jumped out of their seats and ran to the back of the room. Some were screaming. Now this could have been a planned event to challenge me, but from experience I knew I had to remain calm. I walked over and saw a large spider had entered the room and caused the students’ reaction. I quickly handled the situation, but the students were unsettled. And so I turned it into a teachable moment by asking them to describe what they had seen and their actions. Some indicated a fear of spiders and were swept up in the reaction of the crowd. The appearance of the spider provided a teachable moment that even extended outside of the classroom. Most importantly it turned what could have been a behavior problem turned into a learning opportunity.

Here are a variety of sites that can provide ideas and resources to help you with discipline related problems. They run the gamut from simple to complex, but each of them does provide insights from teachers, students, parents, and theorists.

This site provides insights an overview of common problems and ways to handle them and includes administrator actions as well.

Importance of protecting yourself California Casualty Umbrella Policy

For more a more complete list of free material and ideas on student discipline go tohttps://mycalcas.com/2016/02/discipline-help-ideas-and-resources-for-teachers/

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Dealing with Hate in the Classroom

Sep 13 2015in Home Page, Whats New adminTags: , , , , , ,
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Dealing with Hate in the Class and School
Posted by carfamily under education, educators, home schooling, student teacher, teachers, teaching | Tags: hate |
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Dealing with Hate in the Classroom
by National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz

Almost every classroom has incidents where a prevailing moment reveals hate. This is not unusual, but it is a teachable moment. A very teachable moment for the parent or educator willing to take the time to consider the various cause and effects aspects and act accordingly. This is where experience pays. In many cases the issue has surfaced previously and the actions taken at that time may have worked, if nothing else by pure luck. However, the speediest method is to gloss over the episode, push the incident into the future, and move on with the lesson at hand.

It is important to note that criticism is not hate. One of the most counterproductive comment is that a criticism of something is being negative. Nothing could be further from the truth. Calling someone negative may make the caller feel better, as name calling frequently does, but in fact, the name caller is the one being negative. Criticism is meant to improve something. It may not be accurate, but it is certainly needs to be carefully studied as it roots can reveal a great deal about how others see an issue and fresh viewpoints can result in positive improvements. There is a quote by Robert Ingersloll. We Rise by Lifting Others that reads, “Being critical means one cares.” That being said, negativity may just be the result of not being able to see another person’s point of view. In A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy there is a segment where a gun is revealed whose sole purpose if to fire at someone and inflict on them the ability to see things from the gunner’s point of view. A very valuable weapon. I am sure that every teacher would own one for classroom use.

Hating is something difficult to evade. For example, if you are a good teacher and someone acknowledges that there may be another who feels he or she is just as good they could turn that feeling into hate. A great deal of hate can be traced to someone being jealous of another and seeing that individual’s success as not deserved. Something as simple as someone getting a better grade can result in negative, hateful remarks. Being successful nurtures hate. Call it human nature. Even those who profess religious tolerance and obedience have difficulty avoiding hatred. Here are several quotes from the Bible about hate

This is not to delve into the freedom of speech quandary over hate. That is another issue. This essay is about how to deal with hate based on your background and those of the individuals involved to the best of your ability. To mention the fact that dealing with hate is complex is an understatement. At best dealing with hate in a productive manner can nullify, perhaps for the moment, hate and turn it into a lesson that others may benefit from. In other words, a teachable moment.

The number one rule when dealing with hate is that although it is universal, it is not universal. In other words, not everyone hates someone or something, but someone is going to hate. Indeed, that is what makes people so attuned to it. You can have 35 students in your classroom but the one who hates you is the one who gets your attention. And since hate is usually learned, it may well mean that his or her parents may also support that hate. So your ignore the good and turn to the squeaky wheel that needs attention . So rule number one is to confront the issue by trying to find out the cause. That does not mean you have to agree with the cause, but you need to understand what caused it before you react. One of the most dramatic causes is that haters may feel that they are the center of the world. It revolves around them and this may well be fermented and brewed at home. At school it can be a leading cause of bulling. Bullying is essentially a display of hate for others that must be learned behavior. Babies are not born with it, to the best of my knowledge. Bullying is encouraged by those whose self-esteem is built upon expressing their disdain for others. It could be a fear of being low man on the totem pole or the belief that putting someone down enables their status and enables them a step up on their self-esteem chart. Thus is it imperative that you find out the cause of the hate by asking the hater for his or her feelings on the manner. They may not know why, but by opening their eyes to the possible results of their actions it may stop hating in the future. I broke up a student fight one day and after pulling the two participants apart asked them what caused it. One boy said the other deserved it. The other boy had no idea what caused it. I warned and dismissed them with the usual warning. I didn’t make it a teachable moment. I regret that now. What if I would have sat down with both of them to get to the bottom of the disagreement? Maybe nothing would be resolved, but at least they would understand each other better and I wouldn’t have to get my Hitchhiker gun.

Lesson number two is not to let hate get the better of you. Google fight reveals that there are 100 negative student comments to one positive comment. Although not clearly an academic study, it does reveal that is negative clearly gets more attention. I had an assistant superintendent of instruction who didn’t like me at all despite my successes or, perhaps, because of them. When I was being interviewed for a mentor position she asked me what day would be best. I said that Wednesday wouldn’t be good for me knowing that I had classes on the other days. She told me that Wednesday was the only day she could make it. I told her I would try and make arrangements. I took great pride on how I didn’t let her hate get the better of me. Of course I was rejected, but her use of her position enabled her to do so and left me powerless overall. This is the same bullying that rears its ugly head when students who are viewed as more popular use their “power” to regale others with negative views. Learning how to deal with hate sometimes requires a support group, but always requires the individual learn how to cope without endangering themselves mentally or physically.

Lesson number three is to not underestimate the danger of hate. It lingers and can cause damage to all concerned. Glossing over even something as simply as name calling can manifest itself in lifetime of harm and thoughts of retaliation. Indeed, there is a clear need for a battle plan for dealing with hate. First, invest in a good anti-bullying campaign such as http://beyondbullies.org/ and use it for the entire school. Using peers is always best as there is inherit mistrust of adults by some. Secondly, there should be a procedure to follow and it should be part of a staff development plan. First, investigate the cause or causes. Secondly, don’t make judgments. Third, don’t blame. Fourth, support both parties by educating them to the potential impact of their acts. Fourth, make a time line to follow up with those involved. Don’t let the matter drop. Finally, see how widespread this hate might be. Talking to students without naming names can provide depth.

Often time the problem with finding the cause of hate isn’t easy to ascertain. Online videos of students who have been bullied or the victim of hate are shown and yet students frequently miss the point. They think it was terrible, no doubt, especially if the featured child commits suicide. But they don’t understand that people react differently to hate. Was it the child’s fault that he or she couldn’t “take it?” Studies of the impact of hate on an individuals all point to its negative and dangerous nature. What is missing is what should have been done to stop it. There are many instances where a student or parent complained to the school and nothing was done. Unfortunately, it was probably because those involved were too busy, thought they had solved the problem, or wanted the problem to go away. So the final rule is get feedback and act on it. I would suggest that dealing with bullying and hate be part of standardized testing. Having students read about it and write conclusions clearly fits into Common Core standards and yet such reading lessons are non-existent at present.

Last rule: You must do an anti-hate/bullying program school wide using a quality program. Everyone must be involved from classified to certified in the training. Changing attitudes is not a one assembly or staff development program. That is why it is critical to have administration support such causes with time and funding. A district wide policy would be even more effective. Using student mentors is essential as well. And, to gain the maximum benefit the program should give students the opportunity to write about concerns and learn how to deal with them. The program should develop a cadre of students who are trained to help curtain hate and bullying.

Conclusion: Haters are going to hate. They get satisfaction from that and the notoriety may provide the support they need to continue to spread hate. When you see images, read articles, and listen to rhetoric against groups or individuals by adults you have to question what happened to them in life and in school that empowered them to be so hateful. Perhaps just one teacher’s caring remarks and follow up might have made the difference. Regardless, the issue of dealing with hate should be part of every teacher preparation program and every district’s mission statement. There are rules of behavior posted in nearly every school room and yet there are few posted about hate and bullying. Perhaps it is time to move dealing with hate up a notch in the curriculum hierarchy and treat it as a crime against humanity.


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Yik Yak and the Abyss of Total Anonymity

Jun 5 2015in Whats New adminTags: , , , , , ,
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Mobile App Yik Yak Takes No Responsibility for Any Content Posted

Anonymity and the worldwide web get a bad rap. But what about a mobile app that offers total anonymity and local posts? Perhaps the most interesting, Yik Yak is a free location-based app that allows users to post short text-only messages within a 10 mile radius.

Yik Yak is like a virtual bulletin board, where users are automatically connected via GPS tracking on their phones. Users are limited to two hundred characters for posts called “yaks” and pictures or audio content is not allowed. Yaks are up-voted or down-voted and are commented upon. After -5 down votes, the post can no longer be seen on the message board.

Users earn reputation points, known as “yakarma” with more the positive votes they receive. To keep updates relatively recent, yaks have a lifespan of 100 days before expiring. Although the app was intended for college students, younger users can easily sign up because the app does not ask for any profile information. Also, there are no user-names involved; only a phone number is required to register. A new feature, “Peek”, has recently been added which allows users to view yaks from any college in the US, but doesn’t allow users to reply or vote unless they are within the one point five mile radius.

Anything goes on Yik Yak. In fact, the app allows about almost anything, including sexually explicit language, messages about illegal substances and allows users to post messages about anyone.
In one case, after a bomb threat was made on the app about a college, the campus police had to contact the cellphone provider to get the student’s name. Even if a post has been deleted, police are still able to get the information by obtaining a court order, a search warrant or a subpoena. Yik Yak states that it will help authorities when there is a threat, but does not interfere with most cyberbullying complaints.

The app is barely more than a year old (it was released on November 2013), but it has cemented its reputation for being a hotbed of cruelty and gossip. Myriad threats of violence, sex crimes and hate crimes have been reported, including a mass shooting threat and the circulation of a sex tape. Even high schools have been on lock-downs after bomb threats.

In spite of being embroiled in such controversies in colleges and universities in America, the app depends on community regulation. Posts down-voted enough times by users disappear- especially if they contain racist, homophobic or violent messages. Users can “flag” yaks as inappropriate, but its unclear what happens to those flags and how quickly they’re removed and addressed. Additionally, the down-voting algorithm can assign down-votes on a regular basis, which are actually censored by Yik Yak.

In an extreme case, representatives of Yik Yak claimed to have disabled the app in the Chicago area amid worries of high-school and middle-school principals who had seen rampant bullying of students and teachers on the app. Many schools had also sent emails warning parents to delete the app from their children’s smart-phones and banned the app on school networks. But many fear that teenagers would find another way to access the app.

In a bid to stop the complaints, Yik Yak founders geo-fenced all high-schools and middle schools in the United States. The company teamed up with a data provider to make the app inaccessible to students in those areas. The founders maintain that the app was for college students. In a sense, Yik Yak is a descendant of JuicyCampus, an anonymous online college message board that enjoyed a brief period of popularity several years ago. The founder of JuciyCampus, Matt Ivester closed the app after it gained a reputation for cyber-bullying. However, with plans for expanding to other countries, Yik Yak is here to stay.

Written by, Beyond Bullies Volunteer, Ravneet Sandhu
High School Senior

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Burnbook is a Breeding Ground for Cyberbullying for High School Students

May 18 2015in Whats New admin Comments Off on Burnbook is a Breeding Ground for Cyberbullying for High School Students

Burn Book and the Problem with Anonymity

Anonymity may enable people to say whatever they want online without any consequences. This has become an ever increasing reality among high school students who cyberbully by mocking other people, revealing secrets and even threatening them, knowing that they won’t be caught. This phenomenon is being perpetuated by an online app called Burnbook. The app is predominately used by high schools students who use it to cyberbully other high school students at their high school or within a 10 mile radius.

The concept of a Burnbook was popularized by the film, Mean Girls, in which a group of girls wrote mean comments and reported rumors and gossip in a physical book about other students. In the film, one of the girls prints the book and leaves flyers all over high school, allowing the writers to be anonymous. This leads to a game of blaming, even causing a teacher to lose her job over false drug allegations printed in those flyers.

Users of the Burnbook app don’t even need to sign in or create a username. Once they join an online community, they are free to post on any topic within ten miles of their location. They can share texts, photos, and audio with other community members. Other users can comment, like, or vote on the content, deciding what stays in the app and what gets removed.

Most of the posts tend to be very personal as comments about private parts, weight and other physical features are quite common. The Burnbook app blurb seen when the app is first downloaded seems to encourage cyberbullying by enticing youth to divulge information they wouldn’t normally. “Together, we can share a secret.” In this vein, users can anonymously send inappropriate pictures, violent threats and spread rumors, while remaining anonymous.

Jonathan Lucas, the CEO and developer of Burnbook, changed what they call objectionable content, which would violate the terms and conditions of the app and get the removed after a student threatened to bring a gun to Del Norte High School in San Diego, but bullying still continues at the school, with name-calling and negative gossip being very common. According to Lucas, low-level bullying that is non-violent or threatening will continued to be allowed.

The main problem is that teens think that they are actually anonymous while in fact each post can be linked to their phone number “As long as you don’t post anything illegal, we will never give your digits to anyone,” reads the app description.

One cannot have complete anonymity on the Internet. In fact, whatever one does online will leave a digital footprint. If the developers find anything illegal posted on the app, one can expect the prospect of legal action. Kids commenting about having sex with someone without their consent, or sending writing death threats to their teachers are all actions that could cause legal action against them. Moreover, as most of the users are under eighteen, sending naked images of themselves to others is considered child pornography, something most children are unaware of.

As of April 1, the app is not available on iTunes but can still be downloaded on Google Play and other third party mobile markets.

Written by, Ravneet Sandhu

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The Power of the Cell Phone: Fox News’ Analyst Robin Sax Weighs in on Recording Bullying

Feb 2 2015in Uncategorized, Whats New admin Comments Off on The Power of the Cell Phone: Fox News’ Analyst Robin Sax Weighs in on Recording Bullying


Recording Bullying Can Shape the Future of Bullying 

Using Technology to Help Rather than Hinder Students


While schools all over are doing their best at enforcing the “no electronic devices” policy that has been around for some time now, it’s impossible to avoid the fact that almost all teenagers now carry cellphones to school. Texting, web surfing, and the endless games that are now available on a regular phone have turned them into a common distraction. Teachers and administrators frown upon them for that very reason. Among all the distractors though, the cell phone can be of extreme help to document an act of bullying.

Most cell phones now come with some sort of recording application, be it a video recorder, a camera, or a voice recorder. Many targets of bullying have lost trust in teachers and administrators who claim there is not enough evidence to expel or punish bullies or cyber bullies.  Recording the incident or taking a photo of a comment online can prove it exists, which will be harder for adults to deny. 

Taking out a cell phone and secretly recording a picture of someone being bullied or cyber bullied is a very simple way of having direct proof without having to personally speak to an administrator about what is going on.

Breaking the no cell phone rule is something some students are hesitant of doing though, and it is because of this that bullies are getting away with what they do best. According to several high school administrators, (school name is being withheld for privacy), in worst-case scenarios, the infraction of cell phone use would be overlooked if it were being used to protect another from bullying. When it comes down to it, an afternoon in detention beats being bullied for years, so it shouldn’t even be question in mind whether or not to document proof of bullying.

Robin Sax, a victim advocate, Fox 11 News’ Analyst, and former prosecutor for the state of California, says simply obtaining proof of bullying on a cell phone is only half  the process.  Sax shares her thoughts below in the Q&A.

Q&A with Robin Sax

Q: Do you think young people should be able to use their cell phones to record incidents of bullying?


A: Cell phone while not going to prevent bullying can be an effective tool in recording incidents that could ultimately be helpful in insuring that there are consequences and accountability when a bullying incident occurs. A cellphone could be helpful to prove what may happen and allows police authorities and school officials to not have to rely on what someone says or doesn’t say, I believe it helps to use cell phones and other technologies to document incidents.  Evidence can also show if teachers are doing or not doing their job to stop bullying, who else was involved in the bullying incident and to provide evidence before it is deleted digitally.

Q: What do you think about bystanders being taught to take out their cell phones to tape or record bullying as a way to support a target of bullying and encourage others to take out their cell phones as well?


A: It is important not only to train young people to take out their cell phones and other recording devices in order to document the incident, but also to teach them what to do with it.  Meaning, that it is important to use this as an opportunity to discuss that the phone is helpful as a tool for memorializing bullying incidents. However, it is critical to make sure kids know that they need to report incidents and use the footage as corroboration. Simply relying on video is not enough…it is a step that must be combined with reporting, follow up, and insistence that people who have the power to do something, do.

Q: Can you explain what you mean when you say they need to document it?


A:  Recording bullying is not enough.  What needs to go along with that is documentation, which may include, talking to an adult, getting a restraining order against the bully, contacting the media or getting help from the resource officer on campus.  The best approach is collaborative, where several people know about the incident and can help to put a stop to it.  

Q: If a school has a policy against students bringing their cell phones  to school, and teachers and principals don’t enforce bullying polices or ignore bullying, how can students protect themselves?  


A: If teachers and administrators were doing their jobs and making sure students were protected, then students would not need to record bullying incidents. There are policies in place at schools that do not allow for students to bring their cell phones to class. I am not advocating that students go against school policy.  Ideally, schools should have surveillance cameras in classrooms to protect students from teacher abuse, sexual abuse as well as bullying. However, schools could face other liabilities and costs by being mandated to have cameras in classrooms.

Q: To paraphrase, you do not think students should break school policy by bringing their cell phones to school if they are in danger of physical, verbal or psychological violence.  


A: I think kids need to learn to make judgment calls. Part of making that judgment all is for students to be able to identify when it’s a situation that warrant taping a situation.  Ideally, schools did a better job responding and being proactive there would be no need for kids to be in the situation that they would have to decide whether they should breach policy or not.

Written by Melissa Sherman, Executive Director, Beyond Bullies


Special thanks to Leda Costa for writing the introduction. 

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