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Entries in Bullying (33)

Thursday
Jun212012

Caught on Tape: NY School Bus Monitor Bullied to Tears by Kids

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In a case of bullying gone too far, a bus monitor from Greece, N.Y., was verbally abused to tears by a group of middle-school aged kids, who recorded the incident and later posted the profanity-filled video on the Internet.

Karen Klein, 68, can be seen taking insults and being ridiculed by the students in a 10-minute video posted on YouTube called “Making the Bus Monitor Cry.”  The video has since gone viral, with well over one million views.

Viewers have left comments, mostly condemning the children's actions, and one, Max Sidorov of Toronto, Canada, started a campaign through the fundraising site indiegogo.com to urge people to donate money to send the bus monitor on vacation.

By early Thursday, $100,000 had been contributed from over 5,300 donors and much more is expected until the campaign ends on July 20.  It’s possible that enough money will be raised to allow Klein, who’s been a bus driver and monitor for 20 years, to finally retire.

In the meantime, the school district is looking into the incident and has promised to take action against Klein’s tormentors.

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Copyright 2012 ABC news Radio

Monday
Jun182012

Texas Teacher Allegedly Allowed Bully to Be Bullied by Kindergartners

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(SAN ANTONIO) -- A 6-year-old accused of bullying was supposed to get a taste of his own medicine, but his mom says what his teacher did to punish the child went too far.

Ann Neely remains furious that kindergarten children at Ricardo Salinas Elementary in San Antonio, Texas, were allowed to stand in line to slap her child last month, who was deemed a bully by a teacher at the school.

Neely claims that 24 kids took part in the exercise and said that most of them hit her son twice, who was told to sit in a chair by the unnamed teacher.

The mom says she only found out what happened recently after another teacher from the school told her about the alleged incident.

The Judson Independent School District blames the female instructor’s inexperience for what Neely says occurred and promised that she won't be back in the fall.

However, that's not sufficient punishment, according to Neely, who is looking to have criminal charges filed against the teacher to make sure she never returns to a classroom.

In the meantime, the mom says her son was unjustly accused of being a bully, adding, "He's a kindergartener.  And they never had any problems with his behavior.  Ever."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun042012

Mom Who Choked 14-Year-Old Bully Offers Advice to Parents

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Florida mom arrested for choking a boy who bullied her daughter on Facebook admits she “lost it” when she put her hands around the boy’s neck in the middle of a mall while her daughter watched.

“I said, ‘Stop saying things about my daughter on Facebook,’ and I did use some expletives, and I was told that he wasn’t going to stop and he didn’t have to stop,” Debbie Piscitella said Monday on ABC’s Good Morning America.  “So I lost it.  I really, really did."

“I lost my temper,” she continued. “I wish it would have been another route I had taken.  I don’t go around doing that to children.  I don’t want to sound like I’m a huge monster.”

Piscitella, 46, and daughter McKenna, 13, were shopping at a St. Petersburg mall last Monday when the pair spotted the girl’s alleged online tormentor, a teenage classmate. Piscitella confronted the boy and put her hands around his neck, according to police.  The boy, whose name was not released, had, according to Piscitella, taunted her daughter online after the girl posted a picture of herself taken by her younger brother after a concert.

“It’s the nasty things that he was saying about her [McKenna],” said Piscitella, who admitted that her emotions got the best of her.  “What really, really did it was when she was so upset about it.  She wanted to hurt herself. That, to me, as a parent, seeing my daughter like that really angered me.”

What upset Piscitella’s daughter was not witnessing her mom attack her taunter, but the comments made by the boy.

“Just the things that he was saying about me,” McKenna told GMA when asked about the worst part of her family’s now very public ordeal.

Piscitella was arrested on a child abuse charge a few hours later, after the boy’s mother saw red marks on her son’s neck and decided to press charges.  Piscitella was released on bail.

While not commenting on the child abuse charge pending against her, Piscitella said she and McKenna’s father, Jim, had tried to contact authorities to end the bullying against their daughter before it went too far.

“I went to the school.  I went to the SRO, the School Resource Office,” she said.  “They [McKenna's father] contacted the police even that night and they were like, ‘Oh, there’s nothing we can do about it.’

“They have all these anti-bully laws but, when it comes down to it, it falls on deaf ears.”

Piscitella said there are lessons that other parents can learn from her experience.

“I want people to, obviously, try to go through the proper channels,” she said.  “I want you to monitor your children and what your children are doing on Facebook because, obviously, if you look on the Facebook of the children in question, the things that are on there, as a parent, I would shut it down immediately.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun012012

Mom Chokes Bully Over Facebook Comments

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- A Florida mom said she regretted choking a boy who bullied her daughter online, but said his “nasty” and “disgusting” comments about the girl on Facebook had gone too far.

“The boy tells my daughter that she is a fat f*****g whale and didn’t deserve to live because she is so nasty that he wouldn’t even rape her,” Debbie Piscitella explained on Facebook.

When Piscitella and her 14-year-old daughter were shopping at a St. Petersburg mall on Monday, the pair spotted the girl’s alleged online tormentor, a teenage classmate.

Piscitella confronted the boy and put her hands around his neck, according to police. The boy’s name was not released.

Piscitella was arrested on a child abuse charge on Tuesday and was released on bail.

“I just snapped. I didn’t put both hands on his neck it was just one hand, yes I shouldn’t have done that, but you all do not even come close to understanding all the torment they have put my child through,” Piscitella wrote.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr192012

School District Pays Out $4.2M to Student Paralyzed by Bully Attack

Comstock/Thinkstock(RAMSEY, N.J.) -- Sawyer Rosenstein’s life changed on May 16, 2006, when he was a 12-year-old student at Eric Smith Middle School in Ramsey, N.J. That day, another student punched him in the abdomen, sending a blood clot to his spine, and eventually paralyzing him from the waist down a week later.

Rosenstein, who has been in a wheelchair for the past six years, is now a college student, and the case he and his family brought against the school district was settled this week for $4.2 million.  The family’s attorney, Jeffrey Youngman, told ABC News that this case is unique; he doesn’t know of any other bullying case that has resulted in a larger settlement based on personal injury.

“This was a three-pronged case,” he told ABC News. “We had to show that his paralysis was a result of the punch. We also found that the school knew Sawyer had been regularly bullied, and didn’t do anything about it, and that the other student had showed violent propensities, and they didn’t do anything about that either.”

Rosenstein had sent emails to several school administrators in the months before the paralyzing punch telling them he was being bullied, at one point even saying he wanted to get it all “on record” in case anything happened to him in the future. He addressed emails to both the school guidance counselor and assistant principal, informing them of the bullying and asking for help.

Youngman found that there had been at least three separate reports, one involving police, of the other student violently bullying his classmates, but the school didn’t keep any paperwork documenting investigations or any documents showing disciplinary actions.

After the settlement was reached, the Ramsey Board of Education released a statement denying any wrongdoing, and saying that the district’s insurance carriers agreed to the settlement and will pay it out.

The family chose to make this case public, Youngman said, in order to help educate students and schools about what should be done about bullying.

New Jersey enacted a tough new anti-bullying law last year, but Youngman says such laws are useless unless they are enforced and adequately funded.

A separate, confidential settlement was reached with the family of the student who punched Rosenstein.

Rosenstein decided to study communications at Syracuse University after he attended last year’s final space shuttle launch as a credentialed media member.

“This is a case of triumph and moving on,” Youngman told ABC News. “Bullying is a real problem, and hopefully this family’s courage can help show people what can happen, and how to stop it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr042012

'Annoying, Offending' Language Online Would Be Crime Under Arizona Bill

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Distasteful comments and online insults are a mainstay of many social networks and online comment boards, but a new bill passed in Arizona could send people who "annoy or offend" to jail for up to six months.

House Bill 2549, which had bipartisan support, passed in the state's legislature and is awaiting one final vote on a minor "technical change" before the bill is sent to Gov. Jan Brewer.

The bill's sweeping language would severely inhibit First Amendment rights, David Horowitz, executive director of the Media Coalition in New York City, told ABC News.

"Even in talk radio, saying, 'I know this will offend my listeners' is a common practice. It's a tradition, speech that challenges the status quo," he said.

The bill states it would be a class one misdemeanor for anyone to "terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend" through electronic and digital devices. It does not provide definitions of the terms and what would be considered annoying or offensive.

In a letter to the governor, Horowitz urged a veto "to allow legislators to craft a narrower bill that addresses their concerns without infringing on the right of free speech."

He said her office acknowledged receiving the letter and said it would include it in a pack of materials for the governor to review before she makes her decision.

The governor's office said it would not comment until the legislation reached Brewer's desk.

State Rep. Steve Farley, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, said the intention is not to stifle free speech, but to protect victims of stalking and bullying.

"It doesn't mean that the person is instantly going to be fined or put away," Farley told ABC News. "But if the judge determines it relates to other circumstances in the case then they can use this as another tool to make that decision."

Including Arizona's existing law, 38 states have enacted legislation against electronic bullying, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center.

"I'm a defender of the Constitution like anyone else, but the First Amendment doesn't give you the right to harass or terrorize someone," said Justin Patchin, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. "This certainly doesn't or wouldn't restrict one's freedom of speech. If it does, it will be overturned."

Patchin, who primarily studies cyberbullying in the adolescent community, said he has heard from an increasing number of adults who have been victims too and welcomes the legislation.

"We need to step back and realize there is some harmful stuff that is said out there," he said. "And it really needs to be stopped."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb142012

Mom Claims Teen in Columbine Hammer Attack Was Bullied

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LITTLETON, Colo.) -- The mother of a 14-year-old girl accused of assault after allegedly attacking two other students with a hammer said Tuesday that her daughter was the victim of bullying.

The girl’s mother, identified by KDVR-TV only as Liza, told the station that bullying recently had her daughter looking at herself in the mirror and crying. The girl recently asked her, “Mom, do you think I’m ugly?” Liza told the station.

“I’m upset about the fact that they claim that there’s a no-tolerance bully policy, when that’s a big Littleton lie,” the teen’s mother told KDVR.

Although the attack is still under investigation, the public information diector at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Jacki Kelly, said that there had been no evidence of the accused student being bullied at the school.

The accused teen, a freshman at the school, had recently enrolled at Columbine from another high school.

The attack happened on Monday morning, when police say the 14-year-old allegedly pulled a hammer and struck a 15-year-old female student. She also allegedly hit a 16-year-old male student who came to his friend’s aid.

Aaron Flowers, the 16-year-old student, told KDVR that prior to the attack the accused teenager threatened to beat him and his friend with a bat.

“[We were] like how are you going to get a bat at Columbine?” Flowers told the station.

Flowers said that he was struck in the hands and the ribs, while the 15-year-old student was struck on her hand. Both students were taken to a hospital for treatment and later released.

The 14-year-old student was arrested and charged with first-degree assault. She is currently being held at a juvenile facility.

According to police, one of the school resource officers from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was able to reach the teenagers within a minute of the incident and stop the attack.

“Whenever something like this happens we do a thorough investigation,” said Lynn Setzer, director of communications at the Jefferson County Public Schools.  "If things need to be changed we change them. We’re always looking to keep our kids safe.”

In 1999 Columbine, located in Littleton, Colo., was the site of the then=worst school shooting in U.S. history, when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris shot and killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves in the school’s library.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan102012

FAMU Drum Major Targeted Because He Opposed Hazing: Lawyer

Robert Champion Sr. (L) and Pam Champion, along with their attorney. (ABC News)(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- The parents of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion, who police believe died after a violent hazing, said Tuesday that their son may have been hazed more severely than other students because of his opposition to the practice.

"Robert Champion was the poster child of anti-hazing. He threatened the very institution of hazing in this band," said attorney Christopher Chestnut, a lawyer for Champion's family.

During the family's investigation into what happened to their son they discovered that Champion was gay, but also concluded that was not a reason for his alleged hazing.

"This is not a hate crime," Chestnut said during a news conference Tuesday. "This is a hazing crime. That is what we are here to say today."

"We don't have all the answers and all the details," Pam Champion said Tuesday. "My son, he loved his music. He loved the band. His demeanor was more like following all the rules, doing what you should do as a band member. He was a perfectionist. ... He expected everybody to do the same."

Robert Champion, 26, was a member of the college's "Marching 100" band when he collapsed and died Nov. 19 on a bus parked outside an Orlando, Fla., hotel after a football game. Authorities said they believed that hazing was involved.

Sources told ABC News on Tuesday that Chestnut had been interviewing witnesses for a legal case when he discovered that Champion was gay. Champion's parents were vaguely aware of his sexuality, but did not know that there were rumors of a connection to his death.

"Robert did have an alternative lifestyle," Chestnut said Tuesday. He said witnesses said that was not a primary factor in the hazing, however. "It's difficult to know the true motives of every person."

The school fired band director Julian White and suspended all performance and engagements of any bands and ensembles. White was later reinstated and put on administrative leave. Four band members also were dismissed from FAMU, but then reinstated.

During the news conference on Tuesday, Champion's parents said they planned to sue Fabulous Coach Lines, the company that owns the bus on which the hazing allegedly took place, claiming negligence and wrongful death.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan042012

Bullying Blamed for 15-Year-Old's Suicide

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Bullying played a part in the death of a 15-year-old girl from New York's Staten Island who walked in front of an oncoming bus with a suicide note in her pocket, according to her relatives.

Amanda Cummings, a sophomore at New Dorp High School, wrote Facebook messages in the weeks before her death that her relatives said showed a distressed girl crying out for help. Cummings died Monday from injuries sustained in the bus crash on Dec. 27.

Her uncle, Keith Cummings, told ABC station WABC-TV that bullying contributed to her suicide.

"Amanda begged her mother not to say anything for the simple fact that she'd be picked on more, or they'd make fun of her more," Cummings said.

He said that girls at Cummings' high school had been tormenting Amanda, and continued to leave inappropriate comments on her Facebook profile even as she lay in a coma at Staten Island University Hospital.

The bullying was apparently never reported to the school. New Dorp High School did not immediately return calls from ABC News seeking comment about Cummings' case or its bullying policies.

The note found in Cummings' pocket after the crash, according to her relatives, spoke of a failed relationship with a boyfriend, which family members believe added to the girl's stress. In the note, Cummings said, according to her relatives, that she could not live without the boyfriend.

The New York Police Department confirmed that a note was found on Cummings at the time of the crash, but would not comment on its contents nor the accusations of bullying in Cummings' death.

Cummings' suicide is the latest in a string of recent youth suicides, including those of Massachusetts high school student Phoebe Prince and Rutgers University freshmen Tyler Clementi, who was bullied for his romantic encounter with another man. Prince hanged herself in a closet, and Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge in New York, bringing widespread outcry for schools to crack down on bullying.

Since Clementi's death, New Jersey has led states around the country to enact tougher anti-bullying programs, including stricter punishments and better preventative education, in school districts.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec072011

Tyler Clementi's Family Starts Foundation to Discourage Cyber-Bullying

Students pay their respects on October 01, 2010 to first-year student Tyler Clementi, 18, who killed himself shortly after being filmed and broadcast over the Internet during a gay encounter, at Rutgers Univeristy in New Brunswick, New Jersey. EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(RIDGEWOOD, N.J.) -- The parents of a young suicide victim whose death sparked a national conversation about bullying hope to create something positive from the tragedy.

The parents of Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman who jumped from the George Washington Bridge after his encounter with another man was allegedly streamed online by his roommate, have started a foundation in his name to discourage cyber-bullying.

In a statement the Clementis say they were devastated by Tyler's death 15 months ago and want to help "reduce the anguish" of those who are tormented because of their sexual orientation.

Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi, has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him. He is scheduled to go on trial in February.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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