Karen Klein Starts Anti-Bullying Foundation to Spread a Message of Kindness

Karen Klein is a 69-year-old former bus monitor who struck mini-fame after a video of a pack of middle school boys lobbing insults at her on a bus went viral last June.

Like many who viewed the video and felt anger toward the bullies and extreme sympathy for Karen, Reddit user Max Sidorov couldn’t watch the horrific event and stand idly by. So, out of the goodness of his heart he started a campaign on the website indiegogo to raise money so Karen could take a vacation.

The initial goal was to raise $5,000, but within days of the campaign’s commencement the effort had brought in nearly $400,000. Needless to say, the goal quickly went from “send Karen on vacation” to “help Karen retire.”

To date, the campaign has raised $703,873, which Karen says has changed her life forever and not only enabled her to go on vacation, but also retire and take care of her family.

Despite the public attention and large sums of money shuffled in Karen’s direction, she hasn’t let the newfound fame go to her head, nor has she felt compelled to “sit” on the money and coast the rest of her life. Instead, she’s using her new “status” as a platform for good. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullying by Numbers: An Infographic Look at Bullying in Schools

Bullying came to the forefront of American discourse in 2011, as an unprecedented number of high school suicides gained national news coverage. In turn, a number of high profile campaigns where started to address the problem. On the national level, the White House held and Anti-Bullying conference, while on a deeply personal level Dan Savage inspired hundreds of individuals from all kinds of backgrounds to create “It Gets Better” videos. Many celebrities joined the effort to speak out against bullies.

Understanding the prevalence of the problem is part of finding the solution. Below is a info graphic created at the University of Southern California‘s Master of Arts in Teaching. It uses data from the Center for Disease Control, DoSomeThing.org, and a number of other sources to show not only the extent of bullying in school, but also some of the negative effects it has on students.
School Bullying Outbreak MAT@USC
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Gay Education Becomes Mandatory in California Schools

Although California was not the first state to legalize gay marriage in the USA, it will be the first to require gay history in its public schools as part of the social studies curriculum.

On July 14, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will require schools to include the contributions of American gays and lesbians in their instruction and textbooks. Schools must start implementing this new change in curriculum in their schools by January 2012; however, textbooks probably will not be updated for several years.

“This is definitely a step forward,” said Mark Leno, an openly gay state senator from California. “I’m hopeful that other states will follow. We are failing our students when we don’t teach them about the broad diversity of human experience.”

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Bullied Teens End Life in Suicide Pact

Middle schoolers Haylee Fentress and Paige Moravetz blame bullying for their suicide pact

In an apparent suicide pact, two female teenagers killed themselves at a sleepover last weekend. The middle-schoolers indicated that they were bullied at their Minnesota school.

Eighth-graders Haylee Fentress and Paige Moravetz ended their lives by hanging themselves. Facebook posts and cryptic notes pinpoint clues of them feeling outcasted and bullied.

Just weeks before their deaths, Haylee posted this disturbing note on Paige’s Facebook wall:

“I’m so nervous and I just want to get it over with … I love you, Paige.”

Though the two friends seemed to be fed up with their fellow classmates, Haylee and Paige found comradeship in each other. A few weeks ago, Haylee was suspended for fighting with a fellow student. Her reason: She was defending her best friend, Paige.

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White House Holds Anti-Bullying Conference

President and First Lady Obama posted a video on Facebook this week to discuss issues of bullying in schools. The message addresses the responsibility of students, parents and teachers to discourage bullying and promotes the anti-bullying conference that will take place at the White House on March 10, 2011.

The conference will include experts from around the country with experience in anti-bullying strategies. Students, parents and teachers will also be included in the event. Discussions concentrating on signs of bullying, outcomes of bullying and prevention of bullying will take place. This conference will be made available to be watched live on stopbullying.gov from 10:30am to 3:30pm EST, and at home viewers are encouraged to participate in the conversation.

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First-Grader Stabs Fellow Student

Evidently, extreme bullying is starting earlier and earlier. How early, you may ask? Try first grade.

There is a first-grade student at a Montebello, California elementary school whom parents say is a danger to other students. These parents want the child expelled from school due to his aggressive acts towards other children. In December, this child allegedly used a utility device to stab one of his classmates.

“I feel really bad,” said Mary Baca, a parent who was volunteering in the boy’s classroom when the incident took place. “I know it’s an emotional situation. And I know if the kid got love and help, he wouldn’t act out the way he did.”

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Mental Health Needs Increasing at Colleges

The New York Times is reporting an increase in the mental health needs of college students. A rising need for suicide intervention, counseling and hospitalizations are popping up across the country. One can’t help but wonder what is causing depression in students and other mental health disorders.

Bullying is a problem among all age groups. The moment you place a group of people together (whether they are three years old or in college) there will be bullies. Toy-snatching and cooties turn into fear and ignorance as we get older. We now know that the acceptance of others can play a huge role in our own mental health. One should never depend on approval from somebody else, but safety and comfort shouldn’t be sacrificed either. Anti-bullying campaigns are popping up everywhere as people start to realize the vital importance of treating each other well.

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Education Trends to Expect in 2011

I’m amazed that 2010 is over. 2011 is here and it feels so surreal. I suppose I’m not the only one who feels this way. To sit here and think about it, I could have sworn that last New Year’s Eve was such a short time ago! Time really does fly and so much changes throughout the years. This next year is sure to bring plenty of exciting things and probably some not-so-exciting things as well. Keep an eye out for the following education trends that made the news in 2010 and are sure to stir up more interest in 2011.

Better school lunches. Proper nutrition for our children was a hot button issue this year, and the improvements will only continue to spread.

Bill Needed to Put Free Water on the California Lunch Menu

Should Kids with Food Allergies be Forced to Homeschool

Whole Foods Campaigns to Put Salad Bars in Schools

D.C. Removes Chocolate Milk From Public School Lunches

Pennsylvania School District Combats Childhood Obesity

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The Laramie Project Welcomed at Catholic High School

Each year brings us greater understanding of each other and a larger scope of acceptance throughout the world. With the eradication of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and a focus on anti-bullying groups at schools, 2011 is promising to be no different. One place where people don’t expect to see tolerance for the gay community is in the Catholic Church. I came across news of a Catholic School, Xavier High in  Manhattan, that put on (for the second time in the last eight years) a production of The Laramie Project.

The Laramie Project is a production based on the life and murder of an HIV positive, homosexual college student named Matthew Shepard. The play was welcomed by most of the staff and students at Xavier High School. School and church officials stood by their support of the production even under the judgmental eyes of fundamentalist protesters and most believe they were right to do so. The New York Times reports that, “Parents who had initially quailed about their children being in the show gave standing ovations.”

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Mom Sent Son to School With Gun to Ward Off Bullies

bullyTeen suicides in response to humiliating bullying from their peers have been headlining many local news reports, causing parents great concern for their children’s safety at school. The topic of bullying has received so much media attention that many celebrities, and even President Obama, have taped video messages encouraging teenagers across America to be brave and rise above the taunting.

But Connecticut 38 year-old mother Sylvia Mojica’s fear for her son’s life may have put her in the slammer. Mojica reportedly sent her 12 year-old son to school with a knife and a BB gun to apparently ward off school bullies.

The Hartford police have charged her with risking injury to a minor and she is presumed to be in court on Friday, October 29, 2010. Read the rest of this entry »


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