The Escalation of School Bullying and Expanding the PREA to Stem the Tide…

Before I begin I am putting a link up here so that readers can see what the PREA is and what it does:   http://nicic.gov/prea

I want to begin  by saying that this act was put into place due to the suicides of offenders in the penal system because their pleas for help after being assaulted and/or raped were largely ignored.  In Texas, one high-ranking administrator was fired after an offender tried to report an incident to him said, “Well, nobody told you to come to prison.”   The young man had written detailed letters home to his family about the violence he endured and the last letter written detailed why he was killing himself.

Now let me tell you how the PREA is used to prevent suicides:

1.  When an assault (whether rape is involved or not), an offender is placed in protective custody and an investigation ensues. Often the offender will not talk about it for fear of retaliation regardless of housing.  News travels faster in prison than it does on a television network. Often offenders know when some riot is about to kick off LONG before anyone else does–on units OTHER than their own.

2.  Once in protective custody, the offender is offered counseling, alternative housing, and in extreme cases, unit to unit transfer. Some of these are offender “trade-offs” where two offenders can be switched out in different states to complete sentences.

3.  When an offender is suicidal, he/she is IMMEDIATELY taken into protective custody and placed in a cell with a suicide blanket only.  Nothing the offender can harm himself/herself with is placed in that cell.   Within 24-48 hours on most units, the offender is then sent to a hospital equipped with psychiatric facilities.  Not all offenders who threaten suicide have been raped or sexually assaulted. Many are bullied for commissary items, money, etc…They are given the same protections as an offender who is a sexual offender when this gets reported.

4.  It provides stiff penalties for staff members who either fail to report such incidents listed above, within 2 hours of the incident becoming known, OR face any number of disciplinary consequences.  It also provides that officers MUST count LIVING, BREATHING bodies–even at night when doing cell counts.  If someone looks like they are asleep, they must wake them–PERIOD.  If an offender is found dead on the next shift, the autopsy will reveal how long he/she was deceased and there is no excuse for failing to attempt waking an offender during count time at night.  They must also make sure that the OFFENDER is in the cell and hasn’t escaped by waking them up as well. Yes, offenders do stuff pillows and mattresses in their bunk and  try to break out.

Now let’s see how this can be applied to the school systems in this country, given the fact that many students now come from families with members who are locked up and/or are part of a gang affiliation.  In fact, children’s visits to a prison should be very limited. I would say no more than once a month for a child visitor.  There are too many sexual predators running around. Families would raise hell at first, but it is not the correctional officer’s job to baby-sit.

As far as school districts go, the barriers that prevent law enforcement from prosecuting these bullying cases need to be removed. Here is how this can be done while expanding the PREA to the public education system.

1.  With the growing number of children of gang affiliated families on campus, the school officials need to be aware of who these students are AND if they are involved in gang activity.  To that end, law enforcement officials, child protective services and the districts need to work together to reduce the impact such families have in the education system if they are known to be involved in illegal activities.   A true zero tolerance policy should always include automatic suspension and/or expulsion of students engaging in gang activity and/or illegal activity on campus.  In short, if they can face free world charges for what they pull at school, then the school district should be REQUIRED to report the activities within 2-4 hours of the details becoming known–unless it can endanger students and teachers–then it should be REQUIRED to bring in the authorities.

2.  If a student is suicidal or is suspected to be suffering from depression due to being bullied–either at school and/or online, the district should be required to immediately get these students to the school counselors so that they can make appropriate referrals to mental health services.  Parents should be notified IMMEDIATELY if this is the case–in a letter and/or in person via a conference.

3.  If a student is known to have been bullied, it is the bullies that should be punished and NEVER, EVER, EVER  the victim.  If the incident involves a sexual assault, then offer the victim a campus to campus transfer option–even if it means the student will go to school in another district.  Make the bullies be put in different schools rather than their target(s) when possible.  By breaking the social unit of these bullies up, the chances of the student being bullied again go down slightly.  Those who commit violent acts on campus should get an automatic jail sentence AFTER the time spent in juvenile facilities if applicable.

4.   Eliminate lunch detention (especially if not held in a classroom rather than the cafeteria) and mass movement at lunch.  Why?  To many gang kids, lunch detention is a badge of honor–much like when an offender gets sent to medium to high custody is.  They will continue to socialize anyway, throw gang signs and act up at lunch, so it does no good.  This is behavior mimicked in prisons too. The problem with mass movement is that things can get out of hand there too.  At the elementary level, have carts with DISPOSABLE trays and utensils  taken to the classrooms.  Using disposable trays will cut costs of excessive water usage.  After they finish eating, let them go to “reading circle” or go to the playground a bit if weather permits.  This will cut some of the garbage that goes on during movement–because it will be almost ELIMINATED.  To enforce a good lunch detention (if a district MUST have that) a separate classroom with cubicles needs to be used for this.

5.  At the upper grade levels (8-12) close campuses for lunch. That way stuff isn’t being brought in as much for them to “sell” and trade.

6.  Go to uniforms!!!! This is important!  That way gang students have a harder time locating each other. Crime rates on campuses with this policy in place have seen crime rates drop by as much as 85% in some districts!   This isn’t about a students’ rights or respecting individuals’ rights–it is about protecting others in a system that is greatly flawed. No wonder teachers burn out within 5 years in many states…

7.  Give teachers the authority to take the classroom back. Have them trained in self-defense if they want and/or make PMAB training mandatory so that they can restrain students who are out of control.  This training is used to teach others how to properly restrain people who are out of control so that they don’t get hurt and it does come in handy for students who are prone to getting out of control.

No solution is perfect but it has to begin somewhere and to me, that place lies within the PREA.  The links below are to other articles related to this issue.  Not all of them involve school bullying, but all the bullying in society needs to be brought to a halt! Many of these were reported on other networks as well.  Thank you for your time.

Reflections on Today’s World, and Becoming a Grandparent

Well, I just celebrated my 49th birthday on 11/25.  Two of my sons, Kevin and Brian went with me to the club and it was great!  We had a party and such.  Now for the wilder part of the day. I opened a present the my son and his girlfriend gave to me.  I thought it was a gag because it was a pregnancy test!  Kevin said, “Mom…Just read it man!”  I looked at it and it said “positive”.   I looked at him and his girlfriend and they told me that I am going to be a grandmother.

I think it’s not really overwhelming me yet, but it is overwhelming my son, Kevin.  He’s still taking in the “I’m going to be a dad.” bit. I admit this inspires me to work on clearly defining, organizing my goals and moving forward with plans at a better pace than what I have been.

I do know this much, this woman will never be a “rocking chair grannie“. I’m too head strong for that. I know this much, I am the last person a school wants to encounter if I am the alternate person to pick up my grandchild from school, or the one who is on the list to help care for the child and I end up having to deal with some administrator who says that bullying is just something kids have to deal with and they should get used to it.

Schools are not prisons.  To me that is the same thing as when an officer in a prison tells an offender who has been assaulted, “Well, you shouldn’t have come to prison.”  Well excuse me but public schools are the only institutions that are MANDATORY for anyone who has never broken a law–e.g:  OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN,  so that is the LAST comment any teacher or administrator had better make in my presence.

If the system wants to treat these children like little offenders (which is what this amounts to) then they should be held accountable for deliberate indifference when a child gets assaulted and/or killed on school property if it can be shown that there was an ongoing problem and it was NOT addressed effectively.  IF the legal departments are the ones creating the problem by tying the administrators hands and threatening to not represent them if THEY don’t agree with discipline methods–then the district should be able to fire them and hire independent attorneys.

The same holds true if the bullied child commits suicide and the school KNEW there was a problem and failed to act.  If they are held liable for not reporting child abuse/neglect, then they should be held to the same standard when they allow children to be terrorized on their own territory.   They may be part of the government machine–but they should not be above the law by any standard.

See what is happening here? My grandson or granddaughter is not even on the planet yet and I am already concerned for the future of that child. At least I’ll get some days where I can color and teach him/her how to do a dream board.   I know that when I’m around, I’ll shelter that child from as much as I can and so will Kevin and his beautiful girlfriend, Daphne…She is one tough mama and she will not fail to protect her young!

Now I think it is time that she and my son get pics of themselves together with her other 3 kids…For one, they call me grandma anyway and for two, they are part of this family.   THAT’S what they should do–GET FAMILY PICTURES!

I am also starting to do some more soul-searching again…It’s almost like the same thing I did when I was having Eric (my oldest son) who was born on my 20th birthday…I guess this means I need to take a considerably less “charged” tone with my blogs too.  However, it will be very, very difficult when talking about bullying because I am so vehemently passionate about it.

However, pursuing one’s dreams is very important also. I want to impart to this grandchild that only he or she can choose the greatest path for himself/herself in life but it is important to make decisions one can live with and sleep with at night because nobody will walk in those shoes but him or her.

If there is one lesson I have learned in my life, it is that it is one thing to put your dreams on hold–but another to let them die.  Nobody should ever to the latter because that is when that word called “regret” haunts one until the end of their days because they always wonder what might have been.  I really believe now that I can have my dream.  I won’t share what that dream is here, but I know it will one day come true.

I will also be giving that book “The Alchemist” to Daphne’s oldest son, “Jabez” when he gets older.  I think that will open that boy’s eyes to a lot of things.  The Universe has really blessed me, but I’ve got $10 in my pocket that says I am one of the few that has learned to be content with what I now have for the simple fact that I definitely know that a good change is coming.  I can feel it and it will be good for me when it comes.  I also think that this is true for some friends of mine and I am usually not wrong when I feel it this strongly.  2012 is going to be a great year for a few of my friends! I feel it!

Take care and have a great week! This was one Thanksgiving Holiday for which I am expressing a lot more gratitude to the Universe!

I Am One Pissed Off Mom! CHILD ABUSE SHOULD NEVER, EVER BE TOLERATED!

Before reading this, I need to forewarn you that what you are about to watch is CHILD ABUSE.  This is a form of bullying I endured at home, but I knew the difference between a spanking and a beating.  My dad “spanked” me.  My stepmother would beat me by throwing me into walls and cabinets and such–literally…She picked me up off of the ground and threw me around.  This video rivets me to the core.  The language this man used with this child took me back to my own stepmother’s abuse.   The beating (and yes it is a beating) was totally uncalled for.

As a sergeant in a correctional facility, I saw men in that unit who did serious time for this kind of shit and this guy is a judge?! C’mon! People need to quit defending  Neanderthals like this! He is an animal!  I am brutal and to the point when I make these statements, but I was totally incensed at the cruelty of this man. If he has any minor children left at home, I hope to hell Child Protective Services (CPS) takes steps to protect them.  This was assault and battery of a child–pure and simple. Unfortunately, if this video is 7 years old, they can’t charge him for this beating, but if there are younger children around him, CPS can still investigate–and they should.

IF I were this young woman, this bastard would not come within 2 feet of any child of mine–I promise you that much.  If he did it to her, he’d do it to them.  If you don’t want to watch the video, I’ll understand, but please take my word for it–this guy is so full of bullshit that if he ever got locked up on a charge like that, he would spend his entire time in protective custody for what is on this video.  It is disturbing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl9y3SIPt7o&feature=youtu.be

How I Handled the Bullying and How it SHOULD Be Handled Now…

First, I want to say here that my previous blogs on bullying sum up a lot of what I dealt with and how I feel this issue should be dealt with now… I dealt with being bullied in a different way since I endured the crap all the way up to my senior year…I cut off a lot of my classmates.  I don’t attend reunions.  There is no point.  I never got an invitation to any of the reunions anyway.  I was told that they didn’t have my address, which was a lie. They knew my mom’s address which is where anything I get from them goes.  With the advent of FB, a few of them could have notified me there, too.

Several of us in that class didn’t get invited to any reunions.  It is true.  Three of my classmates have since died–one was a friend who died from cancer.  I found out about all of them well after the funerals.  One of them I didn’t know about for over 2 years because NOBODY bothered to email me or call–and my family didn’t want to “upset” me.  My best friend was one of the three, and I had talked to her just prior to her death.  That is what did it for me.   At least NOW my family lets me know stuff.

Do you remember the Walt Disney movie “Sleeping Beauty“?  I often wonder if Malefacent did the things she did because she was treated like crap, but then again, I always think outside of the box–and we only have ONE side of that story…All the bullying I endured–not to mention the abuse at home led to that little thought.  I know a few of my classmates went through some hell that changed their lives, but we are so fragmented and diverse that very few of us communicate.  The only two  reasons I keep going back to my hometown are my sister and my mother.

My sister has great memories of the place–but her experience was different from mine.  After Mom is gone, all that will be left are the memories that one clings to, and because of my own memories, I don’t ever plan to live there again.  I MIGHT move to Weatherford or Ft. Worth, but I refuse to move back to the mausoleum, which is what that entire town is slowly becoming.  I love my sister, but other than that, I would be totally miserable in that place.  I left it for good at the age of 23 and have no desire to return there.

The only saving graces in that town were the teachers I had in school, and a few of the police officers and a few administrators and counselors that knew what was going on.  I’d break curfew and hang out in front of the station.  There were pastors, doctors and a few other people I looked up to as well. They all knew why I left town too.  All I can say is that when my book comes out, I will change the names of the town, but when a lot of my classmates figure out who was who, they will be the ones who get very angry.  I told them all (especially the bullies) that I can do more with a pen than they ever dreamed possible…When it comes out, they will know it for a fact.  No, I’m not seeking revenge on them because the fact that my life is good does that already.  I just think things need to be shared as they really were and that they need to quit trying to sell this bullshit fantasy of theirs that all was just hunky dory in that place.  It was far from it from my point of view.

Writing was my refuge from all the crap that went on and I spent many days talking to counselors about what I wrote.  They finally figured out that it was therapeutic to write a lot of what I voiced about the students who made my childhood a miserable living hell in that place. They also figured out that my fictional characters were the students bullying me.  The bullies were very fortunate that I chose the pen deal with them being that some of the bullying was severe…The kids of today have no qualms about harming the bullies because all they want to know at  young ages is that they simply want their pain to stop.  To them jail or prison is a haven compared to what they are enduring–and unfortunately many feel that violence or suicide are the only options that  they have to make that pain go away.

When I was young, there were consequences–real ones for the actions one takes.  Now the schools seem to think that what they call “lunch detention” actually works…NEWSFLASH:  IT IS A BADGE OF HONOR TO A BULLY TO BE IN THAT!  Why?  There is an ever-growing population of students who have close family members who are incarcerated.  Many of them come from gang families and are groomed to be in a gang position.  This carries over into their lives at schools as well and it must not be tolerated. Uniforms are a start. If they can afford to get designer colors and shoes, their parents can afford simple pairs of pants or slacks and a solid colored top.  I really don’t want to hear about a student’s individuality because most of the time they are always being led by someone else anyway, and if it is not the parents, then it’s probably someone else in the neighborhood–and it most likely isn’t a decent role model either…

One of the topics that will set a school administrator off is facial hair on a male student.  They will waste 30-40 minutes of learning time each day each time he doesn’t shave to try to make him shave and/or call his parents.  Offenders in a Texas prison 99% of the time are NOT allowed to have facial hair.  Instead of trying to make our schools reminiscent of penal institutions, I say let the kids dress as their parents would allow them to–within reason, and only make them wear the uniform or jumpsuit when they do stupid things–like fighting, cursing at teachers, etc…Their lunch period should not be in the same lunchroom with other students either if doing lunch detention.   They should have to be in a classroom with nobody sitting next to them, or in the ISS section in their own booth.  I get sick and tired of pscyho-babble that says that they must have that time to socialize.  They socialize almost everywhere on campus because nobody will stop them.

I think that in America schools have become not places of refuge and of learning, but of controlling and containing–two tasks at which schools fail miserably.  They are in some ways just like penal institutions and students with families in jail (or prison) will not be phased by the discipline methods being used now.  They will readily tell you that they see the same stuff going on when they go to a prison visitation. If they don’t tell you that, parents and other relatives can.

IF anyone wants to challenge my opinion on this, they should look at any offender disciplinary plan/procedure in the state they are in the state that they live in and compare it to any school’s disciplinary plans/procedures.  It will shock them as to the contents of it being like that of a school disciplinary plan with some differences. In prison there is solitary confinement, loss of commissary, loss of contact visitation (or all of it depending on what happened)  and sometimes food loaf for 3 days (if severe infractions warrant it).  So now the question just begs to be asked:  Why is the United States training its school children to be offenders?  No wonder the bullying continues!  Watching students fight day after day  in the halls on the playground is like watching offenders go at it on the recreation yard or in the wings!

To stop a lot of this, educators need to be taught (evidently) that bullying is no game.  It is not just “kids being kids” and it is causing violence and death.  Bullying should no longer be used in today’s vocabulary because it has, in recent years, gone beyond taunts and teasing.  It is now deep psychological abuse and physical assault.  It is not just students engaging in it, but there are times educators engage in this as well by saying things like “Well don’t say anything to Johnny (or Jenny) because she might run home to tell her mommy and we’ll all be in trouble.”  Yes, I know a teacher who did this.  She should lose her bloody license because what she did by doing that is set the stage for that student to be “pressured into silence” by her peers.  The result for this child is that there is a high chance that she would have been  bullied also because this teacher is well-liked by the students. Her mother withdrew her when the teacher humiliated her in class a few days after this was reported.

Note:  This is also the type of game offenders play in the wings to turn other offenders against each other–and sometimes officers do this too.  IF an educator lowers himself/herself to this level, they don’t need to be drawing a paycheck on the taxpayer dime.  They are committing psychological and emotional abuse–which is a CRIME people!  If the districts do not wish to handle it and take care of it, then they should be reported to the state licensing agency and to the police–period.  Get it documented if this is happening to your child.

Educators who know of this type of behavior are required by law  to report this also.  If you are an educator and you see this happen, and your district is doing nothing–abuse of a child can be anonymously reported.  If they end up going to jail and such, and your testimony is needed in this country–then the district cannot retaliate against you without being subject to the “Whistle Blower’s Act”. While this act was originally filed to give the power to the courts to deal with government officials who are committing various crimes, it can also be used to address people who abuse authority and/or become a danger to public health and safety.  Educators work for the state, therefore, if they engage in behavior that needs to be addressed, then this law also protects officials who actually report them.  Officials in the educational field are not exempt from RICO laws or anything else so I do not know how they could be exempt from this…Read about it here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistleblower_Protection_Act

This teacher had gotten into a spot because another parent reported her.  The district failed to act so this parent is now home-schooling her children, who were also severely bullied.  Prior to this, the teacher I spoke of  humiliated one of the children in class (openly) and this is why the other student went to her mother. The other parent withdrew her child also (as I mentioned earlier) when the teacher started focusing her anger onto that child.

I think it is funny that the school district tried to threaten both sets of parents with calling CPS until their lawyers got court orders to  knock off the harassment and filed a formal complaint with the state board for educator certification against the district since it is not against the law to home-school a child.  I think the real reason the district decided to have a cow is that they lost $1500 per head per term  for each child taken out of school.  Between the two families involved, that is a total of 7 children.  That translates into a $21,000 dollar a year loss to the district.

This also tells me the district is less interested in stopping the bullying than it is in losing the almighty buck.  If they cannot stop the bullying, parents should be able to move their children to ANY other district without question and/or home school them–especially if it is a special needs child that is the victim.

I have seen one movie recently that deals with the bullying issue from the victim’s perspective.  It is a movie called “Mad World” with Gary Cairns II.  When I watched it, it took me back to my experiences.  I could relate to two of the characters in it, but my parents were NOT like Jevon’s parents…However I was the bookworm type.  I was the quiet one.  I stayed in my room for my safety and to hide from the world. I made good grades and such while half the bullies screwed up.  I think I could relate more to both Cory and Jevon–but I did have a classmate that reminded me a lot of  Will…That quacking thing really cracked me up and we had one kid in class who cracked me up like that when he opened his mouth.  Once in a while he teased me, but he didn’t really get whacked out like the bullies did.  I am thinking that he should be a comedian.  He would be great at it.

Anyway, here is the trailer for “Mad World”. I strongly recommend it because Cory Cataldo is the only writer I have seen that takes this issue from the point of view of the bullied and from the abused in a film–and these guys went through abuse at school and at home.

Here is the link and it is NOT edited for language and such:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v97q-QeQG0w

As a writer myself, I feel this film deserved a lot more attention for Cataldo’s way of bringing this issue to light.  The only issue I had with it is I would have totally left the political slant out of it to reach a wider audience, but that is just the way I would  have written it–and how I am writing my book.  I loved the movie though.  Because it is told through the eyes of the victims, that could be why the political slant is there…The “F” word didn’t bother me either. I’ve heard worse–but I’ve worked in a prison as a sergeant of correctional officers…THAT is one line of work I will never return to either.  The reason for that will come out in my 2nd book.

This movie is available on Netflix now. 

A good reason I like independent filmmakers is that they are really in touch with the audiences they want to reach.  This film did reach me.  Gary Cairns is also in another movie right now entitled “Lost in a Crowd”.  The cast and crew are also making a difference in the lives of homeless students in L.A.  You can see the trailer and info on that stuff here:  http://www.indiegogo.com/LIAC?a=103015&i=addr   and please share the link!

Anyone who would like to friend me on Facebook is welcome to do so.  School bullying is a topic that I speak out against regularly.   Here is the link to my FB page:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002130892797

Anyone in Corrections Should WATCH THIS FILM!

As a former sergeant at a correctional facility, I struggled constantly with trying to find ways to get through to newer officers (many of them young enough to be my own children) what to watch for in the way of offender behavior.  We showed them state videos and had handouts–which are not that effective as learning tools.  I know this because I am also a certified teacher.  The officers (especially those in the late teens through late 20’s age group) need visuals and things that they can connect to in order to fully contemplate what it is that they should be watching for.

I always recommended one movie to my officers.  That one is “Undisputed II: Last Man Standing“.   In this particular film, Ben Cross plays an offender named Steve Parker.  He plays the part of the offender who is often bullied and such brilliantly, but the part that got my attention the most was the signs he was putting out prior to hanging himself.  This actor pulls every sign off to a “T” and if you don’t believe me, watch it–even if it isn’t the genre you prefer.  This movie is set in a Russian prison, but the corruption and such that it deals with is portrayed so realistically, it can also point out to officers what to watch for in others as well.

The fact that this is a drama that is well acted also makes it interesting enough that the officers can actually take what they learn in training and see everything in a new way.  By recommending this film, you will see that officers are actually grasping what it is you are trying to pound into their head and they will stay awake and listen in your turnouts after watching this.  Honestly, how many of you Lieutenants put your workers to sleep reading those boring  ass handouts and watching the 10 minute fake state videos?  I know in TX it happens A LOT!  That is why it is important to hook them up with something they can connect meaningfully with.

Two of my top officers picked out two offenders they thought were suicidal based on behaviors exhibited by this character in the movie.  They turned out to be right on the money and within 4 weeks, both had to be transported.   It also shows why it is important for officers to be alert to possible issues that should lead them to get an Offender Protection Investigation started–and it is not always due to offenders being sexually assaulted.  This can also tie in to those “Code of Silence” lessons you are trying to pound into their heads when it comes to reporting co-workers for engaging in activities that can endanger other offenders and other officers.   Many offenders  are also extorted and such as well.  There are two advantages to recommending this movie:  First, it is dirt cheap on amazon.com   Secondly, if one life is saved after watching it on your unit, it is worth the buck or whatever the officer spent on it.  Here is a link to the trailer, but the trailer’s focus doesn’t do enough justice to Ben’s character in this film.  He definitely should have gotten recognition for playing this character–a man broken in so many ways–so well.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaWj9b1av1o

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Redemption

The mountain I walk on is my oasis in a desert in more ways than one. However, when I travel, I always find a new mountain. We all have to have our “sanctuary” and mine is usually outside because I stayed inside and away from people for so long. Remember that scene in “The Shawshank Redemption” where Tim Robbins is standing in the rain with his arms outstretched? That’s what happened with me when I changed my path last year, and rejoined the human race.

I had a deep seated fear of allowing myself to become involved with life in general, and was dangerously close to becoming a total recluse again. Nothing is better after spending so many years in prisons of other people’s design as a child (or of my own as an adult) than to stand outside among other people and know that there is freedom in walking among a crowd and not feeling isolated in it and forced to be there for other reasons.

Time is a precious gift–and it is best shared and not squandered.  If sharing mine makes a difference, and it is all that I can offer at the moment, then you are welcome to such as I have if we should ever meet one another. 

My current idea of "Heaven" at the moment...