Legally Confronting Bullying Conduct

asian lawyers

In response to the increasing number of deaths associated with bullying, there have been anti-bullying laws enacted across the country. Forty-four (44) states and the District of Columbia have enacted anti-bullying laws. Seven states have criminal sanctions which attach to bullying. States have created systems to investigate claims of cyber bullying that help police and school officials to better ascertain the circumstances of each occurrence and prosecute or punish the culprits to the fullest extent of the law.

The law enforcement community has responded to this growing phenomenon by seeking to diligently enforce the anti-bullying laws and working with the community to raise awareness about this pressing problem. Additionally, students, parents, educators, administrators, some elected officials and other concerned citizens have been advocating for better laws to address this growing problem. Their collective advocacy efforts have been relatively successful nationwide.

After the death of Tyler Clementi, New Jersey enacted an “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights”. New Jersey’s recently enacted “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights” is intended to eliminate loopholes in the state’s first anti-bullying law, enacted in 2002, that encouraged school districts to set up programs to combat bullying but did not mandate it. The new law requires training for most public school teachers, administrators and other employees on how to spot bullying and mandates that all districts form a school safety team to review complaints. School districts will be graded by the state on their efforts to combat the problem.

Under the Anti Bullying Bill of Rights, administrators who do not investigate reported incidents of bullying will be disciplined, while students who bully could be suspended or expelled. School employees will also be required to report all incidents they learn of, whether they took place in or outside of school. The effective implementation of this law should serve to provide children and youth with a sense of safety and freedom from being intimidated or harassed.

The Obama administration has joined the efforts to combat bullying. His administration is directing resources for the express purpose of reducing bullying in schools and to raising awareness around its ramifications, and, of course, to countering its negative impact. Toward that end, the White House convened a conference on preventing bullying, on Thursday, March 11, 2011. The Obama administration launched of a new website, http://www.stopbullying.gov, devoted to bullying prevention. There are other resources available to combat bullying including but not limited to: the Cyberbullying Research Center website.

The Cyberbullying Research Center website provides information about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of cyber bullying among adolescents. The Center’s overarching goal is to bring sound research about cyber bullying to the forefront; and serve as a clearinghouse of information concerning the use and misuse technology by adolescents. (Cyberbullying Research Center).

For further information on cyber bulling, there are several websites you can visit including but not limited: http://www.fightcrime.org; http://www.bullypolice.org; http://www.healthline.com; http://www.cyberbullying.us; http://www.stopbullying.org; http://www.stopbullying.gov; http://www.isafe.org ; and others.

Source(s): §2 – C.18A:37-13.1 §1 – C.18A:37-13.2 §16 – C.18A:37-15.3 §§17; http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/AL10/122_.PDF. Fight Crime.org; Bully Police USA, Inc.; Healthline.com; Politics Daily; MyFoxPhilly.com;NJ.com; Cyber Research Center; Stop Bullying, Inc.; i-Safe, Inc.; “NJ Assembly, Senate Passes “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights’ in Wake of Tyler Clementi’s Death” November 22, 2010, NJ.com; “Rutgers Student Tyler Clementi Commits Suicide After Video Voyeurism”, October 5, 2010, Star Ledger.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Fathers Day 2014

Fatherless Children

Parents play an integral role in the development of their children either directly or indirectly. In recognition of the important roles played by parents in the lives of their children, we honor and celebrate mothers in the month of May on Mother’s Day and fathers in the month of June on Father’s Day. This year, Mother’s Day was held on Sunday, May 10, 2014 and Father’s Day is Sunday, June 15, 2014.

Each year, for the past thirty-two (32) years, in the United States, on the third  Sunday in the month of June, we honor and celebrate the contributions that fathers make in the lives of their children. Dr. Sigmund Freud is reported to havesaid that, he could not think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.

For a growing number of American children, they have not known the love, protection, and guidance of a father. Social science research has shown the devastating impact of fatherless homes on the lives children. Data indicates that children in fatherless homes experience more major challenges in life than those who grow up with a father at home. The following statistics on children in fatherless homes are alarming and should give any father pause when thinking about his children.

Incarceration Rates. “Young men who grow up in homes without fathers are
twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families…those boys whose fathers were absent from the household had double
the odds of being incarcerated — even when other factors such as race, income,
parent education and urban residence were held constant.” (Cynthia Harper
of the University of Pennsylvania and Sara S. McLanahan of Princeton University
cited in “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration.” Journal of
Research on Adolescence
14 (September 2004): 369-397.)

Suicide. 63% of youth  suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of the Census)

Behavioral Disorders. 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders
come from fatherless homes (United States Center for Disease Control)

High School Dropouts. 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless  homes (National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)

Educational Attainment. Kids living in single-parent homes or in step-families report lower educational expectations on the part of their parents, less parental monitoring of school work, and less overall social supervision than children from intact families. (N.M. Astore and S. McLanahan, American Sociological Review, No. 56 (1991)

Juvenile Detention Rates. 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988)

Confused Identities. Boys who grow up in father-absent homes are more likely than those in father-present homes to have trouble establishing appropriate sex roles and gender identity.(P.L. Adams, J.R. Milner, and N.A. Schrepf, Fatherless Children, New York, Wiley Press, 1984).

Aggression. In a longitudinal study of 1,197 fourth-grade students, researchers observed
“greater levels of aggression in boys from mother-only households than from boys in mother-father households.” (N. Vaden-Kierman, N. Ialongo, J. Pearson, and S. Kellam, “Household Family Structure and Children’s Aggressive Behavior: A Longitudinal Study of Urban Elementary School Children,” Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 23, no. 5 (1995).

Achievement. Children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes. (One-Parent Families and Their
Children
, Charles F. Kettering Foundation, 1990).

Delinquency. Only 13 percent of juvenile delinquents come from families in which the biological mother and father are married to each other. By contrast, 33 percent have parents who are either divorced or separated and 44 percent have parents who were never married. (Wisconsin Dept. of Health and Social Services, April 1994).

Criminal Activity. The likelihood that a young male will engage in criminal activity doubles if he is raised without a father and triples if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent families. Source: A. Anne Hill, June O’Neill, Underclass Behaviors in the United States, CUNY, Baruch College. 1993”[i]

If you want to make a meanigful difference in the lives of children and youth in homes where the fathers are absent, you can support the very necessary work of nonprofit organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and/or Boys and Girls Club. Big Brothers Big Sisters has a 100 year history of providing quality youth mentoring services that have proven to have a measurable impact in the lives of: the youth served, their families and their community. Boys and Girls Club’s mission is to “…enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”Every day, these agencies are changing the perspectives of children and enabling them to see the world around them in a more positive light. With that newfound point of view, they can see their potential more clearly and dream bigger about their future. Get involved in a child’s life.

Sources: Boys and Girls Club’s website. Big BrothersBig Sisters’ website. Indystar.com. “Father’s absence takes heavy toll on children”, Editorial, June 18, 2011. “Statistics on Fatherless Children in America”. Wayne Parker, About.com Guide. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art.


[i] “Statistics on Fatherless Children in America”. Wayne Parker, About.com Guide

June is National Hunger Awareness Month

National Hunger Awareness Month is held in the month of June. The overarching objective of National Hunger Awareness Month is to educate communities nationwide that hunger exists throughout the year not just during the holiday season. Food security is necessary to lead a productive, healthy, and active life. It has been reported that more than forty-nine (49) million Americans lack reliable access to the food. Childhood hunger is a growing reality in America. In one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the prevalence of childhood hunger is a national travesty and for many a well kept secret.

For families in need, the summer months present special challenges because they rely on the free and/or reduced school breakfast and lunch programs to provide essential meals for their children during the school-year. These feeding programs are either not available during the summer months or offered only at select school locations making it challenging if not  impossible for many families in need to access. With that said, it is important for us to remember to make donations to local community food banks on a routine basis because countless families often turn to these institutions to help feed their families particularly in these very difficult economic times.

Approximately, one in four children in America is food insecure. As is aptly stated in the materials by Share Our Strength i “No Hungry Kid”, “…their bodies may not be rail thin, nor their bellies bloated like their counterparts in other countries, but they’re at risk of hunger all the same. They lack the energy to learn, grow, and thrive.” It is a well known fact that proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of healthy children.

Statistics on Childhood Hunger in the United States:

  • According  to the USDA, over 17 million children lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2009. ii
  • 20%  or more of the child population in 16 states and D.C. are living in food insecure households.  The states of Arkansas (24.4 percent) and Texas (24.3 percent) have the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food.(Cook, John, Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008. iii
  • In 2009, households that had  higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included  households with children (21.3 percent), especially households with  children headed by single women (36.6 percent) or single men (27.8 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (24.9 percent) and Hispanic households (26.9 percent).v

These heartbreaking facts about the prevalence and the face of hunger in America have drawn the attention of many people including but not limited to Oscar winning actor, Jeff Bridges. Jeff Bridges is serving as the national spokesperson for the “No Kid Hungry Campaign”. To ensure that every child has the opportunity to achieve success, we must first ensure that their most basic needs are met.

To get involved in an anti-child hunger campaign or to gain further information on the prevalence of childhood hunger in America, visit www.share.org, http://www.feedamerica.org, and http://www.nokidhungry.org.

Sources: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; U.S. Census Bureau; Feeding America (online); Rhoda Cohen,  J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010; Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008 and 2009; Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008; www.share.org; www.feedamerica.org; www.nokidhungry.org; and Food Research and Action Center.

Photo credit Microsoft Clip Art

______________________________________________________

iIn 1984, Share Our Strength, was started by the brother and sister team of Bill and Debbie Shore started the organization with the belief that everyone has strength to share in the global fight against hunger and poverty, and that in these shared strengths lie sustainable solutions.

iiRhoda Cohen,  J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010.

iiiNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008.

iv Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States:2006-2008.

vNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.

Memorial Day 2014

Today is Memorial Day—a time to honor and remember the lives of fallen U.S. soldiers. Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of the month of May which commemorates U.S. soldiers who died while in military service. Initially, Memorial Day was enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War. After World War I, the decision was made that the holiday would honor Americans who have died in all wars.

Memorial Day is also a time to honor the sacrifices made by living veterans as well. After returning home, many veterans are forced to live under deplorable conditions. A little known fact is the number of homeless veterans in the United States. Under George W. Bush Administration, the number of homeless veterans peaked around three hundred thousand (300,000) on any given night in 2002-03. During Bush’s tenure in the White House, this figure was reduced by approximately half via an increase in supportive programs for veterans.

President Barack Obama understood the importance of continuing the gains to end homelessness for veterans made under the Bush administration.  President Obama not only undertook the mission to help America’s homeless veterans but to transformed their lives. By Obama’s directive, and with the continued support of Congress for our nation’s veterans, our nation is now committed to ending veteran homelessness by 2015.

According to the most recent U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Administration count determined that on a single night in January 2009, about seventy-six thousand (76,000) veterans were homeless. This number is down from an estimated two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) reported eight years earlier, according to the annual VA CHALENG (Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups) reports.

 Who are our nation’s homeless veterans?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) states the nation’s homeless veterans are predominantly male, with roughly five percent being female. The majority of them are single; come from urban areas; and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. Roughly fifty-six (56) percent of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 12.8 percent and 15.4 percent of the U.S. population respectively. About one-third of the adult homeless population are veterans.

Data indicates that America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF/OIF), and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. Approximately half of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era. Two-thirds of homeless veterans served our country for at least three years, and one-third were stationed in a war zone.

Much needs to be done to truly honor the lives of our veterans. In my next post, I will write about pending federal legislation that is designed to do just that.

Sources: National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Washington Post. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development. U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development. Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

International Nurses Day 2014

 

Doctor with Patient

Each year, on May 12th, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, nurses are celebrated on International Nurses Day. This day was established to recognize the contribution nurses make to the health and well-being of our society. Inspired by nurses like Florence Nightingale and Elizabeth Fry, the International Council of Nurses started this annual event forty-six (46) years ago. Every year, there is a different theme for the day.

On International Nurses Day, we honor the life-saving abilities of nurses around the world. Whether by putting you at ease while you wait for your doctor or taking your health history, the variety of critical health related services nurses provide is seemingly endless. Every day, nurses take care of countless patients. Each May 12th, we can demonstrate our support and appreciation for nurses world-wide by acknowledging their important work.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Source(s): International Council of Nurses.

Mothers Day 2014

 Mothers Day 2014 is fast approaching. In the United States, Mother’s Day has been celebrated on the second Sunday of May for almost eighty years. This wildly popular annual holiday seeks to recognize the positive contributions that mothers have made and continue to make in the lives of their children. Not only is Mother’s Day celebrated in the United States, it is also a national holiday in several other countries including but to limited to: Mexico, Canada, South America, Japan, and China.

Every year, children and adults in countless countries seek ways to honor their mother for giving them life, direction, hope, and love. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant. Like dining out, the giving of cards, flowers, and other gifts are also very popular methods for honoring your mother on Mother’s Day.

An emerging trend on Mother’s Day is to give your time or financial support to nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life for indigent children, youth, and adults. In this particularly challenging financial period in our nation’s history, nonprofits are called upon to serve an ever increasing number of families in crisis. This Mother’s Day, in honor of your mother, please consider providing much needed support to nonprofits serving indigent children, youth, and families in crisis. Very Happy Mother’s Day!

Sources: Wikipedia. National Restaurant Association.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

No Resting Place: Violence At Home & Violence In The Streets

Stress
The month of March has long been recognized as Women’s History Month. Domestic violence continues to pose a clear and present danger for women and girls. To highlight that fact here are some alarming facts shared on the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website:
“Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner. In 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder. Less than one-fifth of victims reporting an injury from intimate partner violence sought medical treatment following the injury. Intimate partner violence results in more than 18.5 million mental health care visits each year.”

With that said, not all homes provide a safe haven. For far too many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Many incidents of domestic violence go unreported. What data that is available indicates as shared previously that domestic violence continues to pose a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of countless women and girls. Yet, domestic violence is a subject that we, as a society, are reluctant to talk about. As a result, victims often suffer and sometimes die in silence. It is important to know: what constitutes domestic violence, how you can help, and available resources.

What constitutes abuse? Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including but not limited to physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that people use to gain power and control over their intimate partners. Research indicates that domestic violence is common and affects people of all cultures, religions, ages, sexual orientations, educational backgrounds and income levels. Domestic violence is not a private family matter as was once thought but rather a crime against society. Abuse takes many forms.

Abuse comes in several forms and, while some define abuse as a physical attack, it can also be emotional, financial, or sexual. Physically abusive behavior can escalate quickly and have lethal consequences. Emotional abuse is considered a psychological or mental attack on another, including name-calling, destructive criticism, harassment, isolation, intimidation, or humiliation. These emotionally destructive behaviors by the abusive partner can be detrimental to the victim’s mental well-being both in the short-term as well as long-term without counseling. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy the victim’s self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make the victim feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and the first step to breaking free is recognizing that the relationship is abusive.

Are there other forms of domestic violence? Other forms of domestic violence include but are not limited to financial and sexual abuse. Financial abuse, also known as economic abuse, results from one partner’s attempts to gain and maintain control over their partner’s finances. Taking many forms, financial abuse includes disallowing a partner from obtaining a job, purposely hurting a partner’s credit, limiting access to funds, and demanding that a partner ask for money for every expense. Sexual abuse results from one partner forcing his or her will on the other, often causing physical and psychological harm in the process. When a partner is afraid to say no, he or she suffers from abuse. Once the victim acknowledges the reality of the abusive situation, then she or he can get the much-needed help.

Is this an exhaustive list of the forms of domestic violence? Although lengthy, the aforementioned categories of domestic violence do not comprise all forms abuse. Stalking is another form of emotional abuse. With the rise of technology, many abuse their partner by stalking them with the aid of cell phones, computers, and the Internet, or using technology to monitor a partner’s activity. Research indicates that this type of abuse is especially common among teenagers and young adults. The immigration status of the victim can also afford the abusive partner an opportunity to control the victim. When the abusive partner, often a spouse, holds control over the victim’s immigration papers, threatens to call immigration authorities, or refuses to let his or her partner to learn English, among other things this behavior constitutes abuse. More than ever before, society must guard against domestic abuse in all forms, paying special attention to non-traditional forms of abusive behavior which all too often go overlooked.

How can you help? There are several ways that you can help a person in an abusive relationship. First, you must be a patient and non-judgmental listener. Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. Secondly, you can encourage him or her to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Assist your friend in locating a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling and/or shelter. If the person elects to go to the police, court or a lawyer, you can offer to accompany them for moral support. It is important to be mindful that you cannot rescue the person being abused. Although it is difficult to see someone you care about being hurt only the abused person can decide when to take the requisite steps to secure a life free from the violence and turmoil which occurs in an abusive relationship.

The pervasive problem of domestic violence takes everyone to make it stop. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, keep in mind that expressing your concern for their health and well-being will let the person know that you care and may even save her or his life.

Sources:NCADV website and PCADV website

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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