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Does Virginia really need a “Bully Bill?”

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Chris and Kim Brancato knew something was wrong when their 12-year-old son came home with bruised ribs. Teachers “thought it was horseplay,” and the boy never told his parents he was being bullied. So the bullies kept beating him up, his grades began to slip, and the Fluvanna Middle School honor roll student tried to kill himself. Only after the Brancatos noticed ligature marks on their son’s neck, did things begin to happen.

The Brancatos went to court and won. Now Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle County) is pushing a bully bill that would require schools to teach about “the inappropriateness of bullying, intimidation and harassment of others,”and would make schools report to parents with guidelines for filing a juvenile petition and contacting law enforcement.

Aside from being more skeptical about their son’s injuries early on which in turn, led to more than “$30,000 worth of medical bills, suicide watches and emergency hospitalization,” the Brancatos did what they should have done. They went to court and got justice. And they didn’t even have a bully bill to back them up.

Let’s imagine if the Brancatos did indeed have bully legislation on the books when their son was being beaten up. If the teachers thought the activities were horseplay, would there ever have been a phone call? Not likely. The Brancato’s son would have kept getting bullied until his parents’ curiosity over their son’s bruises, neck ligatures and bad grades, turned into anger and action.

Despite its good intentions, what we’re left with is a bill based on a heap of what-ifs. What if the school had known better? What if the school had called the Brancatos?

The bigger – and more delicate – what-if question is this: What if the Brancato’s son had spoken up?

For whatever reason, the victim stayed silent. His injuries were physical clues. His slipping grades were more clues. It took a suicide attempt for the 12-year-old to break his silence.

The boy did not deserve the suffering. However, there is an important lesson to be learned that is being ignored: If you are attacked, you must defend yourself, or expect more attacks.

“Defending yourself” doesn’t have to mean being a black belt in Karate. Telling a parent or other authority figure matters most.

Though we can sympathize with the Brancatos’ story, Del. Bell’s bully bill transfers the burden of parenting from parents to schools and that’s a bad, ineffective idea. Let schools take care of math and reading lessons. Let parents take care of life’s lessons.

*****

Read The Daily Progress coverage of this story here.

This post first appeared on Reporterette.com.

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  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    No disrespect to the victim or his family, but sometimes, I wonder how we ever survived.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Schools can’t just address math and reading because children aren’t just emotionless empty vessels into which you can pour knowledge. Schools have to address the social development of children — it’s a package deal. So a bully bill might help schools prevent some kids from becoming bullies.

    The psychology of the abused is pretty well documented: it’s not easy for adults to report physical abuse or to take a stand against it. This story is really very familiar, isn’t it? It’s the battered wife syndrome applied to middle school.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Reporterette, interesting and difficult story. I’m not sure how I feel about it, other than an overwhelming urge to kick the shit out of bullies

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    We can file ‘Bully Bills’ right next to hate crime legislation under ‘redundant’.

    Dave

  • Chris Brancato

    Yes, Virginia DOES need a bullying bill and NO it’s NOT redundant.

    Yes, I am the father of the child in the story.

    Read the story again my critical friends. The schools have adopted a stance wherein you send your child to school and you lose virtually ALL of your parental rights. For example, teachers witness this daily assault, interpreted it as horseplay, despite him being injured and were not required to notify me about it. The law in it’s current iteration, gave the teachers/principal TOTAL discretion. Put your self in my shoes…where your kid is so afraid of his safety, he’s afraid to tell you what’s going on.

    Those of you who posted that there is no need…that sounds like something you’d hear from the other side.

    By the way…no offense taken in any of this but think of it in these terms…now my kid is going to a special school costing 4 times the amount to educate just one! and if he needs to go to other PRIVATE school, he will and the taxpayers will pick up the entire tab. So tell me, what’s cheaper and more cost effective? Paying to send a kid to a private school of my choosing at your expense or fixing the damn problem?

    You know my answer. It’s pretty clear that the education lobby doesn’t care about your kid…they care about their money. That’s why the principals, superintendents and school boards oppose this…and the teachers’union publically supports it.

  • Chris Brancato

    And no one ever expects the subject matter to read and respond to thier blog postings.

    Beware of us UberGeeks of the world. We know how to reach out and touch someone!!

    /laughing in good humor.

  • http://reporterette.com Reporterette

    Mr. Brancato, I appreciate the feedback. Here, in its entirety, is the reply I posted on my site:

    Chris Brancato, father of the Fluvanna Middle School student who was bullied (here’s my original post) just entered this comment via Blogcritics:

    Yes, Virginia DOES need a bullying bill and NO it’s NOT redundant.

    Yes, I am the father of the child in the story.

    Read the story again my critical friends. The schools have adopted a stance wherein you send your child to school and you lose virtually ALL of your parental rights. For example, teachers witness this daily assault, interpreted it as horseplay, despite him being injured and were not required to notify me about it. The law in it’s current iteration, gave the teachers/principal TOTAL discretion. Put your self in my shoes…where your kid is so afraid of his safety, he’s afraid to tell you what’s going on.

    Those of you who posted that there is no need…that sounds like something you’d hear from the other side.

    By the way…no offense taken in any of this but think of it in these terms…now my kid is going to a special school costing 4 times the amount to educate just one! and if he needs to go to other PRIVATE school, he will and the taxpayers will pick up the entire tab. So tell me, what’s cheaper and more cost effective? Paying to send a kid to a private school of my choosing at your expense or fixing the damn problem?

    You know my answer. It’s pretty clear that the education lobby doesn’t care about your kid…they care about their money. That’s why the principals, superintendents and school boards oppose this…and the teachers’union publically supports it.

    First of all, thank you for the feedback Mr. Brancato. Now, concerning this point:

    The schools have adopted a stance wherein you send your child to school and you lose virtually ALL of your parental rights.

    Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. The level of discretion school officials have makes me very uneasy. However, I don’t think a law will fix the problem. Furthermore, I am concerned that by requiring school officials to report suspected bullying, such a policy would inspire a zero-tolerance approach to all playground horseplay — the real horseplay, not bullying. Will little Johnny get time in Juvenile Hall for teasing little Susie and throwing spit balls at her hair? I think this law would give already out-of-touch school administrators even more power and that’s what we need to avoid.

    Now to this point:

    By the way…no offense taken in any of this but think of it in these terms…now my kid is going to a special school costing 4 times the amount to educate just one! and if he needs to go to other PRIVATE school, he will and the taxpayers will pick up the entire tab. So tell me, what’s cheaper and more cost effective? Paying to send a kid to a private school of my choosing at your expense or fixing the damn problem?

    No offense Mr. Brancato but I think your case is a rare and extreme one: $30,000 in medical bills, suicide watches, etc. My experience being bullied pales in comparison to your son’s. A jealous classmate threw me to the gym floor at our Catholic preschool and split my chin open. A pack of furious nuns, one livid mother (mine) and seven stitches later, that girl never bullied me again. Again, if the school was inept to diagnose the horseplay as bullying, I don’t see it changing its ways because of a law. As for what’s cheaper and more cost effective, kids do not become bullies over night. A kid who bullies is showing a pattern of bad behavior and schools need to deal with that early on. Put bullies in special schools so that good children like the your son can learn in peace. That is the cheaper solution over the long term.

    Now to your final point:

    You know my answer. It’s pretty clear that the education lobby doesn’t care about your kid…they care about their money. That’s why the principals, superintendents and school boards oppose this…and the teachers’union publically supports it.

    I’d say you’re probably right. But like I said before, a bully bill won’t fix this. Until parents begin demanding that problem children be kept from advancing through the public school system, bullies aren’t going to go away. The bully bill is a band-aid fix at best. Del. Bell’s legislative approach needs to be much more aggressive: if problem children/bullies are disrupting the classroom, they need to be taken out of the general student population and placed in special schools of their own. If anything, the measure — albeit well-intentioned –needs more meat and less redundancy.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I was bullied every day at school up until the 5th grade, and I went to an exclusive private school. I didn’t need a bullying bill or a bodyguard or a suicide watch. It just took me a while to figure out that bullies were cowards and that if you stood up to them most of them would back down. IMO parents need to be more involved and more aware of what their kids are going through and be prepared to teach them how to deal with bullies and other difficult situations. My own kids are all girls and I’d like there to be a no cattiness or cliquishness bill, but I realize that’s not sensible. It never makes sense for government to try to do what parents, teachers and the normal process of socialization should do.

    Dave

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    I didn’t need a bullying bill or a bodyguard or a suicide watch.

    But you’re not everybody. This boy might have benefited if the school was more proactive about addressing bullying within their school. If they’d addressed bullying by teaching about “the inappropriateness of bullying, intimidation and harassment of others,” then perhaps this child would have either not been beaten up or would have felt that he could report it and be listened to.

    It sounds like in the case of this bill that the government would be making sure the teachers were doing what they should do, not doing it for them.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    bhw – are we gonna get into the teachers doing their jobs discussion again???

  • Eric Olsen

    I don’t have the answer myself, but I very appreciate the discussion and wish Chris and his son nothing but the best. Yes, this case is extreme but it isn’t unprecedented, and as I said earlier, my impulse is topersonally intervene and physically assault the bully myself, which is probably not the best universal answer.

  • Chris Brancato

    For the sake of rebuttal, let me respond.

    Believe me, I fully understand where you’re coming from.

    Here’s the cogent point that drove this…The teacher’s witness most of the events and through thier misguided interpretations, thought it was horseplay…not as the Judge interpreted as A and B. If the incidents had been reported to the school and we, his parents, it would have been VERY easy to see the pattern of behavior that was inflicted upon him that lead up to his suicide.

    Let’s face it…say what you will, but schools ONLY do what the law MANDATES them to do. Very little more…and most often times less.

    Ergo, if I send my child to school, what in the hell gives the school the right NOT to notify me if my kid is physicially bullied but not necessarily meeting some poorly trained teachers understanding of what A and B is. (I’m a former cop).

    The statute contains NO reference to what bullying even is…so you’re stuck with a sitation where if someone did to YOU…what the bullies did to my kid, you sure as hell would have involved law enforcement.

    What difference does it make if it happens on school property or it’s between two kids? These aren’t the kids like we grew up. Not by a long shot. These kids bring guns and knives to school, have sex in the closets and buy and sell drugs, IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL.

    None! and that’s exactly my point.

    Pardon me if I state your point of reference is more libertarian and certainly baseless considering the apparent lack of situational awareness of the typical middle school and teacher education.

    Sure…you’ll retort that where you live in Afton, they do it better. (By the way, I live in Fluvanna and I know for a fact, Nelson County DOESN”T. you might want to brush up on the stats.)

    Again, for the sake of rhetoric…because the all don’t do a good job (some are doing NOTHING!), the premise that teachers are sufficiently educated to discern assualt and battery from bullying is flawed.

    Agreed, no law will cease bullying. However, the reliable data that’s out there (remember data as opposed to conjecture) CLEARLY shows that bullying programs such as the law will mandate reduces incidents by at least 50%.

    And…give all that to support my case… I’m not sure there’s any compelling reason to have more than a moment of pause thinking this one through.

    Thanks for the discourse.

  • Chris Brancato

    I had to run…but lastly…

    Please don’t take offense to anything I wrote. It was not to be demeaning or written in the least bit of anger. I just wanted to give this the proper context, sometimes it’s hard via postings. I do take exception to the serious myopic view of the poster who said ” I never needed a bullying bill, suicide watch or bodyguard.” Well pardon me sir/madame. Your arrogance will take you very far in this world. Have YOUR nine year old daughter find YOUR 12 year old son after he tried to hang himself and slash his wrists. And then come back and talk to me you arrogant prick. (emphasis on the last and pardon the language, but I felt owed that.) If you’d like to discuss this further in person, I’ll be happy to and express my true feelings to your cognitive impairment. (PS. look it up!)

    While I rightly have animus toward the school adminstration, I bear little toward the teacher’s. I just sat in Jury Service all day today until 7:15 PM. After what I saw the defense attorney do to a women who was injured by his client, I’ll never put my kid through that…for ANY amount of money.

    Pardon the crassness of what I’m about to say but I’m an old Navy brat…You can be pissed off and do something to better your fellow man, or you can be pissed on and benefit no one.

    Personally, pissed off gets a lot done that measured reason often can’t due to systemic paralysis. While the cadervaric exhumation of these events in my life might be helpful, most of the observations I’ve read rest purely on uninformed speculation. The article didn’t mention that while the school superintendants, school boards and principals lobby stated their objections, they have been in on the drafting of the bills since the beginning. That’s why it passed out of the house without being contested. I’ve been in everyone of those meetings and there wasn’t ONE educator who voiced any thing resembling the idea that we didn’t need to do something in the law to address this. The objections always centered around how and process. My point is that event the EDUCATORS know the system is broken. You have to start somewhere and they agreed.

    I can see the civil libertarians point of view. However, laws are based on mores and values. Lawyers and courts have created havoc to where you need to create such specificity on the law to actually enforce it. I personally find that maddening and wish it wasn’t so.

    So…let’s say I didn’t push for the bills…one of which grants immunity to the teachers. So that leaves me to a civil process for significant award to exact what? More tax dollars out of my pocket? Did it change anything in my situation? Sure…it paid my bills…for now. Great…let’s say I’m awarded 1 million dollars of which the lawyers take most of it. This is pretzel logic of the highest order.

    Sorry for the length.

  • http://reporterette.com Reporterette

    Thanks Mr. Brancato for replying. Overall, on whether the bully bill as proposed will be effective, I think we have to agree to disagree. My bottom line belief is that we already have laws on the books that address bullying: Think assault. Think harassment. My ex-cop husband could throw out even more.

    One more thing. When you said,

    “Sure…you\’ll retort that where you live in Afton, they do it better. (By the way, I live in Fluvanna and I know for a fact, Nelson County DOESN\”T. you might want to brush up on the stats.)”

    I am quite aware of the stats Mr. Brancato. When my husband and I do start a family, our plans are to either home school or enroll our children in private schools; public schools just aren’t an option for us right now. And that’s difficult for me to say, having graduated from one of the top public high schools in Virginia, if not the country. I never saw bullying at TJHSST. Its students – whose parents are very much involved in the academic lives of their children – chose to focus on academics (210 National Merit Semifinalists in 2004) rather than the sort of nonsense typical of most public schools. Ultimately, the power of educating children in an environment conducive to learning rests with the parents, not with the government. Nevertheless, I wish your family well and God bless.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    I have one question for Mr. Brancato. I believe that if one of my daughters was having a problem like you son was having, they would approach me or their mother and say something. Why didn’t your son, do the same?

  • barherbs

    some people clearly survived bullying and are ok, but not clear to me why they want somebody else to suffer also. the question for me is: what can we do to decrease the violence the most vulnerable and littlest members of our culture have visited on them.
    there is a significant increase in 8 year olds coming into hospitals after either trying to kill themselves or trying to kill others. why wouldn’t we want that to stop?
    libertarians often whine about solutions; rarely offer new solutions; maintain a nostalgia about how tough they were. what’s the value of tough? what’s the possiblity of trying to figure out something to do to stop the violence?

  • Chris Brancato

    Reporterette,
    Thank YOU for your reply. While I am again going to try to redirect, we might just have to agree to disagree.

    I think maybe I should be more direct in stating the purpose of the bill. While the bill received a bullying moniker because it defines bullying in a legal term not presently in the code, it is in essence a misnomer. It truly is more a parents right to be informed bill when you kid is involved in a PHYSICAL altercation on school property. Let me state publically…MANY people wanted this bill to included the verbal forms of bullying but I could not sign on to that simply because you throw discretion BACK into the educators hands. If they can’t decide the difference between A and B and bullying, how in the world you expect this same educator to figure out what was a violation of the first amendment (which by the way is pretty well established in case law…you really don’t have in school anyway.) or verbal bullying? You simply can’t as my case exemplifies.

    The goal was to clarify the law for the schools and by the lobbies of the respective special interests groups..we would have NEVER gotten this far without THEIR support and approval. By the way…the bill. That doesn’t happen unless all the stakeholders have been apeased. If the educators didn’t think we needed ab bill, do you really think we’d have come this far? Give me some credit for the mastery of the process and the consensus. Since you don’t know me, you can’t possibly know just how much I want government out of my home and bedroom and body, however, this is not my home, body or bedroom. It is a PUBLIC, TAXPAYER FUNDED, SCHOOL. The employees serve at the will of the Commonwealth.

    By the way, the bills passed without one decenting vote, except for the education subcommitte and he voted yea every other vote. You can review my previous comments to how the code reads presently (and it appears not for very much longer.)

    And I might agree with your statement that the education rests with the parents however, I think you’ve overlooked several details that flaw that logic.

    First, my son’s decay happened between December and February; a very short time frame. There were no signs acutely. After this happened hindsight provided 20/20 vision.

    Secondly, unless I misread your last post..you’re assuming that we weren’t involved…and you’d be very wrong. In fact, my wife was the school nurse for a while. Don’t interpret this as a defensive response. I’m simply providing facts that you don’t have.

    Again, I could agree with your premise provided you allowed for the exception to the rule. That being, school officials clearly excluded us, his parents from the dialog simply by not informing us that these incidents were occuring without staff assigning an order of magnitude judgement on what they say. A simple phone call would have provided enough data points for both us and the school to intervene before it got to this point. Hopefully you can at least recognize the importance of this in the events that subsequently transpired.Again, that’s the point.

    In closing, God Bless you too. We felt pretty strongly that our involvement in our childs education would have fostered the environmental utopia you seek. It didn’t for the reasons explained.

    Let me state this emphatically. the crystal you see the world in right now will change dramatically once you have a child. I’ll bet my entire life’s salary on it.

    I would strongly recommend the home schooling consort in Charlottesville as a good option. If you ever need an introduction, contact me and I’ll get you together with them.

    God Bless you and thank you for the discourse. I truly mean that as I have no problem mounting a defense of my public positions. I do feel strongly that if one states a public position, one best be well prepared to defend it or one shouldn’t speak. And as you can see, I am and will always be, ready to do just that.

    My parting shot: There was a quote I heard when I was younger that I’ll use to illustrate where I am. There are two rules in life. 1) There is ALWAYS a victim. 2) Don’t be it.

    And another that my Vice Admiral father pounded into me…I wish I could put 40 year old heads on 20 year old bodies.

    I do too!

    Andy Marsh,

    Sir, that is a VERY fair question. He was afraid for several reasons. The first being he was afraid of retrobution by the bullies. They made several statements to him, substantiated by kids who witness this, that if he ever told..they would kill him.

    The second was…he admittedly said he tried to survive this by trying to befriend these kids. Well…you know how that turned out. The bullying simply got progressively worse because he didn’t fight back. I truly wish he had.

    I’ll leave this by saying…

    Sorry Mr. Brancato…we did everything we could. But your horse died.
    :)

  • MSpinks

    I am an active, involved homeschooler in Northern VA. Quite a few homeschoolers are homeschooling because of the bullying problems in our schools, although that is not my reason.

    To assume parental involvement will make a difference is wrong. Many of these families come to homeschooling after months, and sometimes years, of trying to work with the school systems regarding bullying. The children often wind up in need of therapy, and many of the parents could use it themselves as they are angry, bitter and very, very frustrated.

    I don’t know when bullying became confused with socialization, but that seems to be the attitude of many educators and, surprisingly, parents. When parents find out that I homeschool, often their first question is “What about socialization?” Since I have a lot of experience with this question, I now understand that very few people actually know what the word means or that it has different meanings depending on context. Hence, my standard response is “What do you mean by socialization?” To which the reply is usually “You know, dealing with bullies.”

    (I saw this confusion of acceptable social behavior in action recently. Child A complained to the responsible party, a teacher, that Child B was kneeing other children in the genitals. The teacher’s total response was, “Well, that’s how Child B is.”)

    I then usually pose three questions to the questioner. “Do school children learn to deal with bullies by being bullied?” It has been my observation that most children, including teens, simply do not have the emotional and intellectual maturity necessary to deal with bullies. They usually can’t deal with it, regardless of all the advice, counseling, and how-to books.
    “Is it even desirable for us to want or expect children to have this particular maturity?” There have been a lot of reports regarding the desensitization of children due to media violence. I don’t know why we condone their desensitization to first-person real-life violence in our schools. Lastly, “Why are our school considered *the* place to encounter bullies?” They’re everywhere. On the playground, next door, on the team, in the troop, at the mall, at the pool, on the bus, etc. etc. There are plenty of other opportunities for exposure. Surely it’s not unreasonable to want our schools to be safe havens for learning?

    Regarding Dave’s post: Not all bullies are cowards. When a friend’s nephew, age 13, stood up to his tormentors, he was slammed headfirst into a brick wall for his efforts, resulting in concussion, plastic surgery, neck injuries, and hospitalization. The parents had been trying to “work” with the school for many months to put a stop to the bullying, and the advice the child received, ie, to stand up to the bullies, turned out to be the wrong advice. Additionally, Dave, that you consider bullying to be a “normal process of socialization” should be a red flag to you. You’ve been sold. Bullying is not a normal social behavior.

    It’s unfortunate that some parents haven’t, can’t or won’t take the time to teach their children to be respectful, kind, and considerate to others. It seems that the schools, for whatever reasons, are not able to make up this lack, even with the heavy emphasis they put on the importance of the “socialization” they provide. The victims, at present, have very little being done for them. I’m not sure what could best be done regarding legislation, but a start is better than nothing. We require teachers to report suspected child abuse to authorities. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to require them to report another form of child abuse taking place under their very noses.

    Apologies for the long post.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple A. Stark

    This is Mr. Brancato NOT angry? He is fully entitled to anger – it is a healthy emotion at times. But you said this is you NOT angry.

    By the way, I would fully support a bullying bill of sorts, if you (not “you”) could clarify what “bullying” is for the rest of us.

    Another fair question – Did you ever talk to your son about what to do in the face of bullying?”

    If you say yes, but he forgot, didn’t feel he could do it, well then I would say children will react in different ways. So do teachers. Teachers should be trained better to perhaps report any kind of repeated taunting to parents.

    But bullying bills won’t achieve much. Just like with drug use, it’s behavior and choices that need to be changed through better environments and better parents.

    I think we’re coming to a point where “better parents” is going to be a pipe dream.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com andy marsh

    that’s when karate class has to come into play…

    When I was in around 1st or 2nd grade, some kid in the class put an IN at the end of my name when it was on the board…the teacher (nun) made that kid call my house that night and apologize to my parents! Of course, he called the house, asked for me and I let him off the hook. Then, are you ready for this, I LIED to the nun! That’s right sports fans, I’m destined for HELL! Goes right up there with sounding out S-H-I-T in first grade, on the playground, in chalk, in 3 foot letters!

    HA!!! Rotten little bastard!

  • only email if you can help

    We really do need a bully bill because i was a victim of battery at TJHSST (Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology)and yes as reporterette has said it is one of the top schools in the country – unfortunately reporterette has no clue about any of the social scene at TJ especially as of late and has no right to make such comments. I assure you that bullying happens, drugs happen (HARD drugs), stealing, hacking, rape, character assassination – and this is not all by the students, it comes from the staff too.

    The problem with TJ is that there is no protection, the reason we dont hear bad things about it is because the kids get thrown out and their records erased.

    So right now where am I, i was beaten several times at TJ – on school grounds and during school hours, with kids and teachers present – an ambulance was called and then the principal says that she has “know knowledge of this ever happening” hmm is several the same as 6…6 beatings is extreme…i think

    I am a child without a school, i have no future, i am blind in one eye now because of this kid, and the school covered up the crime so now the law cant handle it – i would call this getting screwed…please dont send your kids to TJHSST – half of them end of being seen by shrinks – in fact the students that attend or have attended TJHSST make up more than half of the patients at local mental health facilities…

    so if you can help then great you can email me @ mylifeasacookie@yahoo.com

    till then – let a bully bill pass and make sure that va legislature does not give immunity to the school systems – because right now they have it … meaning that if your kid (god forbid) in the most extreme case – shot by a teacher, the teacher is protected under va law and well you are left with a dead child…

  • Chris Brancato

    Yep, I understand the comments that my posts were angry. My reply: that wasn’t nearly as angry as I have been. That was a smidge of anger.

    Ooppss…looks like I dropped the blessings…You might need to count them to make sure they are all there.

    My new tag: If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.

  • http://www.bullywhys.com JC

    I, too, live in Virginia and had a son who was bullied. I have a web site devoted to bullying information for parents, and have just started a new Yahoo group for Virginia parents. Info on the Yahoo group is on my Web site. My goal is to help other parents, because we’ve “been there, done that.”

  • Nancy

    I hope wholeheartedly that Mr. Brancato & other parents of bullied kids not only sue the schools, but the bullys’ parents/families as well, and strip them bareass nekked as far as assets are concerned. Nothing teaches as strongly as a good kick in the wallet.

  • Diana Spencer

    My daughter has been the victim of a bully and her “cohorts” since 8th grade last year. I tried repeatedly to deal with the bullying through the school administration which only resulted in the bully finding more creative ways to bully without getting caught; through, phone calls, e-mails, and instant messages. Each time we would block the user, she would create new usernames and the bullying would continue. She enlisted the assistance of other students in her bullying antics, so the trail could not be followed. In my contacts with the school I learned she had been kicked out of two other schools, held back twice for suspensions and behavior, and was apparently now living with a grandparent so she could attend 8th grade at my daugther’s school. She was 14, dating an 18 year old, not ashamed to inform other students she had gotten pregnant and miscarried twice, and the school administration placed her in classes with 12 year old’s. After spending the year harrassing my daughter, we were relieved for the summer to arrive in hopes that the bully would grow out of her behavior before entering high school this year. I found out that rather than discipline her for her bullying, she was rewarded, after the year ended, by allowing her to catch up to her actual grade(10th)and skipped 9th grade altogether. No extra work, no reprimand, just a free pass to the tenth grade. Well, the bullying has continued everyday since school started. The bus ride to school and from school are hell for my daughter. The reason that the victims of these bully’s don’t speak up is because the harrassment they receive as “snitches” is worse than if they’d keep their mouth shut and endure the basic bullying. My daughter who was originally called names, hit with paper balls, and made fun off, is NOW labeled as a “snitch”, and the entire bus has joined in the bullying simply on the basis of being a “snitch”. The bus drivers are too worried about staying on the road and avoiding a potential accident to be a babysitter and referee on a bus. The administration thinks that intimidating the students with a warning will curb the behavior. It obviously has not worked for two years, so why would they assume it would work now. My daughter and I are fed up with these bullys that obviously have no interest in their future, and are not interested in advancing to college. They spend their time emotionally abusing those that are working effectively for a successful future. I absolutely believe there needs to be a “Bully Bill” to punish students, and hold parents/guardians financially accountable for the behavior. I was told by my daughter’s counselor to petition for a restraint order if the behavior happens again. Basically, that tells me that the school is not going to handle the situation, and I have to handle it myself, through the legal system. It will cost money to file the petition, hire a lawyer, etc. etc. You can bet that if I am having to pay out of my pocket to handle an issue caused by a bully, I am going to ensure I receive every dime of it back from the bully, and her family. So that is what it has come to. If I have to use the law to protect my daughter so she can focus on her education, then there needs to be a bill to support it, that will award compensation for all the money put out by the victim to protect themselves. Not to mention, a punishment that will remove them from the school where the bullying is taking place. That is just common sense. The bully policy at the schools are failing our children, and they have the right to attend school without fear of ridicule or degredation. In response to the person who mentioned spit wads as “horseplay” not bullying: I know that I certainly don’t want spit wads in my hair. That may be fun for the person spitting them, but not so fun for the girl on the receiving end. Fun at the expense of others feelings is emotional abuse, and it needs to stop!

    I commend Mr. Brancato for taking the necessary steps to protect his son. I thank God your son was unsuccessful in his suicide attempt. Your efforts have opened the door for other victims like my daughter to protect herself, and accept being a “snitch” rather than a victim. Thank you!

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