SAFER SCHOOLS NEWS-VOL. 161
Pervasive School Violence Concerns Across the Country
New York City Schools
Let’s look at the statistics on violence in the NYC Schools. The total number of recorded episodes dropped slightly, to 6,875 in the 2014-15 school year from 6,950 the year before. During the same period, reports of “seven major felony crimes” fell to 614 from 654. In the 2000-1 school year, by contrast, there were 1,575 of those major crimes reported. The city also educates about 1.1 million of the state’s 2.5 million total students. Yet the argument has flared up as some alleges that the city’s school system has adjusted its discipline policies to lower their statistics by reducing their reliance on classroom removals and suspensions which can explain the change.
The suit also claims that city’s Education Department perpetuates a system “characterized by chronic and deliberate indifference to the pervasive violence, intimidation and harassment experienced by their students.”
Moreover, the suit claims, there is a “‘blame the victim‘ mentality, which often results in de facto punishment of, or retaliation against, the victims.”
The lawsuit is made up with a group of parents, grandparents, and a pro-charter school group. They have sued the New York City Department of Education and Chancellor Carmen Fariña, alleging that unchecked problems with violence and bullying in the nation’s largest school system have created an unsuitable educational environment for students there. They are seeking class-action status for their federal suit.
Individuals in the suit are 11 students, whose ages range from 7 to 14. Their identities are protected in the suit, though the complaint included examples of the types of violence they claim to be the victims of.
Here are some in the suit;
- John Doe No. 2 (JD2) is an 8-year-old who claims that he was bullied, harassed, and physically harmed by classmates. JD2’s New York City mother knew something was seriously wrong when the school called to say her eight-year old son had stabbed himself in the ear with a pencil. He had been bullied relentlessly for months, she said, and when she came to pick him up that day, he told her he had only wanted to make the insults stop. His leg was marked with visible bruises from a bully’s foot. New York City public schools are bound by law to protect children from bullying by investigating and remediating acts of violence. But JD2’s mother said that never happened for her special-needs son. He lost sleep because of stress and anxiety for a half a year until he was finally moved to another class, away from the bully who had repeatedly hit, harassed, and chased him.
- John Doe No. 3 (JD3) is a 9-year-old student who claims that he was thrown down the stairs by his teacher.
Penetanguishene School – Canada
In another other District in Canada, parents file a $50-million lawsuit alleging bullying at Penetanguishene school of their kids. Court documents allege bullies repeatedly harassed the girl, who was seven at the time, by threatening her life and telling her they would attack her in her room at night. They also allegedly encouraged other students to target her and made threats against her stuffed animals.
The lawsuit alleges the School defendants knew about the bullying and were “willfully blind to acts calculated to cause physical, emotional and/or mental harm.” It specifically accuses Seamont of failing to adequately supervise school staff and permitting a school environment that was not free of bullying.
Fairfield Schools – Fairfield, OH
The family of a Fairfield Schools’ student who killed herself – have filed an addendum to their original lawsuit that accuses school officials of not addressing alleged bullying that family claim led to their daughter’s suicide.
The April 22 filing by Marc and Cynthia Olsen – parents of deceased Emilie Olsen who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2014 — in federal court adds details and allegations that were not included in the family’s initial lawsuit filed late last year.
Rutledge Middle School, TN
A federal appeals court has upheld dismissal of a lawsuit filed on behalf of a bullied middle-school student in Tennessee. The case was among a handful of suits filed in that sought to hold schools accountable for failing to stop bullying.
The court acknowledged that the school did not eliminate DS’s (a student identified only with DS) problems. But school officials promptly investigated complaints and took measures to punish the culpable students. That conduct did not rise to the level of deliberate indifference, the court said.
According to the suit, DS was regularly pushed and called names such as “bitch,” “faggot” and “queer.” Older boys demanded money from him. In one instance, DS said three students picked him up and pushed him head first into a wall, causing a compression fracture, wedged vertebrae and back pain. In another incident, DS fell in gym class
New Castle School District, Del
Wilmington High School in Del reported a violent attack leaving one dead which took place in a bathroom — A 16-year-old Delaware girl is dead, leaving her family and town devastated. She died after a fight in a high school bathroom, but it’s unclear how or why.
In a cellphone video, Amy Joyner is seen on her knees before she was allegedly killed by a group of girls in a bathroom brawl.
Wilmington police confirm the horrific attack was filmed — perhaps by more than one girl. Police say no weapons were used. Joyner was airlifted Thursday to a local hospital, where she died shortly after arriving.
Authorities say they have questioned three girls who have now been suspended from school. The girl’s death left the high school community reeling. Students held vigils and mourned their friend’s death and parents flooded school officials with calls about student safety. The school held two nights of parent meetings to allay parent’s fears.
Bullying, harassment, assaults and violent acts are on the rise. Schools follow into three Categories;
- They lack skills,
- They lack support from others in a position to help or,
- They are overwhelmed and stop caring (and give themselves over to chronic and deliberate indifference to the pervasive violence, intimidation and harassment experienced by others.
Let’s Keys’ help a district or youth orientated organization turn this around.
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