Posts tagged with "ridicule"

“I Have Nobody… I Need Someone”: A Teenager’s Haunting Legacy

I’m struggling to stay in this world, because everything just touches me so deeply. I’m not doing this for attention. I’m doing this to be an inspiration and to show that I can be strong. I did things to myself to make pain go away, because I’d rather hurt myself then someone else. Haters are haters but please don’t hate, although im sure I’ll get them. I hope I can show you guys that everyone has a story, and everyones future will be bright one day, you just gotta pull through. I’m still here aren’t I ?

-AmandaTodd

In a heart-wrenching video[1] posted to YouTube five weeks ago, 15-year-old Amanda Todd revealed to the world the bullying, abuse, teasing, and ridicule she endured on a daily basis by her peers at school and on the Internet. At the end of her nearly 9-minute index card confession, she simply wrote: “I have nobody… I need someone… My name is Amanda Todd…” On October 10, 2012, Amanda took her own life.[2]

Prevalence of Bullying and Effectiveness of Anti-Bullying Legislation

Over the past couple of weeks, a colleague and I have gone into fourth gear posting articles regarding bullying and, as I’ve described it before, its technological brother, cyberbullying. Nearly three out of every four students face some form of bullying, with 5-15 percent characterized as “chronic victims.”[3] 

Though nearly every State has some form of anti-bullying legislation, many have questioned its effectiveness and sources: to quote Jennifer Livingston of CBS WKBT, “this behavior is learned… We need to teach our children to be kind, not critical, and we need to do that by example.”[4] A Canadian social psychologist described Amanda’s death as the consequence of “a generation [raised to be] passive bystanders,” indicating the problem as one of community rather than institution.[5] Thus, despite the laws on the books, bullying tactics will undoubtedly remain pervasive and claim more victims.

Bullying and its impact on children and young adults is no joke, and both the short- and long-term effects can be devastating. We need only remember Tyler Clementi, Phoebe Prince, Megan Meier, and now Amanda Todd as harsh, stark reminders of this lesson. As a parent, it is imperative that your child understands that he or she ought not view their self-worth through the eyes of their tormentors.[6]

By Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Should you have any questions regarding school bullying or any other education law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

 


[1] “My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm,” by Amanda Todd. September 7, 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOHXGNx-E7E

[2] “Bullied teen Amanda Todd took her own life, B.C. Coroners Service confirms,” by Tiffany Crawford. October 12, 2012: http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Bullied+teen+Amanda+Todd+took+life+Coroners+Service+confirms/7381793/story.html

[3] “Bullying: A Module for Teachers,” by Sandra Graham, PhD, of the American Psychological Association. Accessed September 24, 2012: www.apa.org/education/k12/bullying.aspx

[4] “Star brother Ron Livingston defends ‘fat’ anchor sister, Jennifer,” by News Limited Network. October 5, 2012: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity/tv-anchor-jennifer-livingston-takes-on-bully-who-criticised-her-weight/story-e6frfmqi-1226488835303

[5] “Bullying victim Amanda Todd’s death a consequence of ‘passive bystanders,’ says expert,” by Misty Harris. October 12, 2012: http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/national/Bullying+victim+Amanda+Todd+death+consequence+passive/7382674/story.html

[6] See Footnote 4.

Teacher Placed on DCF’s Child Abuse and Neglect Registry

Case Background

Twelve-year-old Kyle G., while attending MicroSociety Magnet School in New Haven, Connecticut, was subjected to repeated harassment and bullying, amounting to child abuse and neglect.  However, Kyle’s bully was not another student, but rather his teacher Nicholas Frank.  The witnesses, Kyle’s classmates.

Mr. Frank subjected Kyle to constant ridicule in front of Kyle’s classmates, calling Kyle “cheeks,” “birthing mother,” and “fish out of water.” Mr. Frank even resorted to physical harassment, by pinching Kyle’s cheeks.  Mr. Frank limited Kyle to asking only ten (10) questions a day, and if Kyle went over, Kyle could choose his punishment: have his cheeks pinched or lunch detention.  As a result, Kyle became terrified in class, as he was afraid of how Mr. Frank was going to make fun of him next. Kyle’s grades started slipping from A’s to C’s. He had trouble sleeping and started wetting his bed.

Kyle’s mother became alarmed and reported her concerns to the school administrators. Upon learning of Mr. Frank’s actions, the school advised him to stop calling Kyle names, stop pinching his cheeks, and to minimize contact with Kyle.  When questioned, other students confirmed Kyle’s story. Students reported that Mr. Frank called Kyle “pregnant” due to his weight.  As a result of the investigation, Mr. Frank was suspended for eight days without pay.

The Charges

Connecticut Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) learned of the incident and charged Mr. Frank with emotional neglect. A hearing officer substantiated the finding, holding that Mr. Frank “subjected Kyle to ‘acts, statements, or threats’ that would have an adverse impact on Kyle, including referring to his facial appearance and his weight. After substantiating the findings, DCF had a separate hearing as to whether Mr. Frank should be placed on DCF’s central registry of child abuse and neglect.

In deciding to place Mr. Frank on the central registry, the hearing officer determinate that Mr. Frank “in light of the attention given to anti-bullying in the school context, should have been aware of the implications of his statements. Kyle suffered an adverse emotional impact from the plaintiff’s [Mr. Frank’s] behavior as his grades dropped and his fear of school increased.” The hearing officer found that Mr. Frank had a pattern of abuse.

On Mr. Frank’s appeal of the DCF’s findings, the Superior Court rejected Mr. Frank’s arguments that the decision was not based on substantial evidence. The Court stated, “the court defers to the conclusion of the hearing officer who noted that teachers through the schools districts are on notice that poking fun at students is inappropriate behavior.”

By: Leigh H. Ryan, Esq.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of bullying or harassment, please contact a knowledgeable attorney.  At Maya Murphy, P.C., we have decades of experience dealing with Education Law, harassment or bullying, Special Education Law, and discrimination– often in situations where they run concurrently.  We handle all types of issues, in a broad geographic area, which includes Westport, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, and the entire Fairfield County area.

If you have any questions regarding bullying, or any education law matter, contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.