October is National Anti-Bully Awareness Month, and school districts across the country are engaging in creative ways to educate students on the destructive and long-term effects of bullying.  Last week, a school district in Connecticut serving Beacon Falls and Prospect hosted an online safety seminar for parents to learn how to safely monitor their children’s online activity and report any bullying activity.[1] 

Just this week, the Ouachita Parish School District in Louisiana hosted a cyberbullying seminar, run by Keith Dunn, a former police officer who now travels around the world in an effort to educate others about cyberbullying.[2] 

The seminar came in part in response to the sad statistic that there have been seven suicides in the past two years out of the Ouachita Parish District, some of which may have been due to bullying, according to Superintendent Bob Webber.  In Washington, D.C., Delaware Senator Tom Carper’s office hosted a cyberbullying seminar this week that explored ways in which Facebook can help protect against bullying.[3] These types of seminars are occurring across the country, highlighting a nationwide recognition that educating students and parents is the best way to prevent bullying behavior.

A story out of Des Moines, Iowa hit the news cycle last week when a local news anchor addressed a letter from a viewer who made negative comments about her weight and its purported effect on her audience.

Jennifer Livingston spoke on camera in response to the letter, stating to its author, “You don’t know me. You are not a friend of mine. You are not a part of my family, and you admitted that you don’t watch this show so you know nothing about me besides what you see on the outside — and I am much more than a number on a scale.”[4] Her poignancy and candor served as a reminder that sometimes confronting bullying directly is the best response.

The novelty and uncertainty surrounding cyberbullying makes it that much tougher for parents and students to know what to do when they become a victim.  Though the ultimate goal is to better the safety of children in schools, and educate them on the values of responsibility and kindness, legal assistance may be necessary.  If so, an attorney experienced in navigating the school district system should be consulted.

If you find yourself with questions relating to education law, bullying, or cyberbullying, do not hesitate to contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq., in our Westport office, at 203-221-3100, or at JMaya@mayalaw.com. Our attorneys serve clients in the Fairfield County region, and are well-versed in all facets of education law.


[1] http://www.rep-am.com/articles/2012/10/08/news/local/674944.txt.

[2] http://www.knoe.com/story/19767830/teachers-schooled-at-cyber-bullying-seminar .

[3] http://wp.wgmd.com/?p=70412.

[4] http://westdesmoines.patch.com/articles/tv-anchor-criticized-for-obesity-has-poignant-message-during-october-anti-bullying-month#youtube_video-11575574.