Dear [Congressman *, Senator *, etc.]:
I am writing to you as a parent of a [5 year old, 10 year old, – note ages of children here], and to ask for your support to help with a movement to improve national legislation that will give more power to our education system to help improve the protection of students from being bullied (including Cyberbullying) and harassed in all California schools.
In July 2011 Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Bills AB 1156 and AB 9. The signing of these two bills was a giant step in the right direction to protect bullied and harassed children, but more has to be done to protect those that are bullied. More programs need to be implemented to help train our school administrators, school educators, and, yes, even parents. Without programs that help us learn how to educate our children from a very early age, I fear the bullying epidemic will continue to grow and get worse. As you know, for many reasons schools today are not what they used to be. Our children of the future are having opportunities taken away from them solely due to educational programs being cut. In this instance, programs to educate students about the importance of standing up when it is right to do so will have a domino effect in other areas of their lives. We know that peer pressure over the years has become dominant in our students’ lives and many kids that give into peer pressure do so simply because of the fear. We know that students follow others students’ leads. If we can provide training to our educators, parents and volunteers to help teach our children about the importance of unity, everybody wins!
I, for one, would like to see programs that teach about warning signs that may indicate that someone is affected by bullying – either being bullied or bullying others. We all need to be able to recognize such signs so that the steps can be taken against such behavior. Because of fear, we know that not all children being bullied or are bullying others seek help. Warning signs that can be taught in such programs can also point to other issues or problems, such as depression or substance abuse. Communication is the key and talking to our children will help identify the roots of such problems so that additional help can be provided in other areas, if needed (i.e., counseling, tutoring, etc.) The bottom line is we need to educate everyone, not just students, on how “not” to be just a bystander, but to be able to have the courage to stop bullying on the spot if ever put in such a position.
I am a supporter of a non-profit organization known as Beyond Bullies (“BB”). Its mission statement is dedicated to helping youth who have become the targets of bullying and cyber bullying by providing them online real-time support from E-teen leaders, viral campaigns to engage youth to take action and to implement prevention/educational programs to create awareness to stop it.
BB’s goal is to provide youth who are the targets of bullying and cyber bullying online and offline support in order for them to feel safe and comfortable in their surroundings. BB provides prevention programs for students, teachers, administrators and other school personnel. BB also trains professionals who work with youth in order to bring more awareness about the harmful impacts of bullying and ways to prevent it.
Programs such as BB need our support, not only on a state level, but on a national level so it can continue with the necessary programs it provides.
Lastly, California was previously given a grade “D” with respect to anti-bullying legislation but has since been upgraded to a “B” due to the implementation of Bill No. AB 719 (Bullying Prevention for School Safety and Crime Reduction Act of 2003). However, the bill still needs to be improved. Still missing from this bill are 1) any definitions of bullying and harassment, 2) protection against reprisal, retaliation or false accusation, and 3) school district protection against lawsuits upon compliance to policies. Additional review of anti-bullying bills is needed in California.
The way Senate Bill 250 was written for the State of Georgia has earned Georgia a grade of “A++.” We should be strengthening California’s anti-bullying legislation in order to protect students, teachers and the people who care about them most.
Thank you for your time in reading my letter. I am grateful for your past support and I urge you as an elected official to consider taking the lead in steps to improve California’s bills with regard to anti-bullying and harassment legislation.
On behalf of Beyond Bullies, please contact me if you would like to attend a training session to learn what we do to educate in the area of anti-bullying. We look forward to welcoming you. To learn more about Beyond Bullies, go to www.beyondbullies.org