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Schools must enforce rules

Bill will allow expulsion of bullies

Posted: January 13, 2009 7:29 p.m.
Updated: January 14, 2009 4:30 a.m.
 

Bullying expert Derek Randel welcomes California Assembly Bill 86 but says school enforcement, not new legislation, is the answer.

"If schools have rules but don't enforce them, then why have them?" Randel says. "It's never good to involve politicians."

Randel founded Stopping School Violence to help empower students, parents and educators to handle bullying.

Two recent bullying stories and reaction of local educators in the Santa Clarita Valley captured Randel's attention.

In addition to appearing on "The O'Reilly Factor," Randel wrote several books on bullying including "Attacking Our Educators," which addresses the growing phenomena of bullying, cyber-bullying and acts of violence against teachers.

Randel commends the parents of Sean Spalla, the Valencia High School student who was the recent target of cyber-bullying when someone posted violent and pornographic content to his YouTube page.

"The Spalla's going to the FBI was the correct move," says Randel. "I would like to know what actions the school will take to be ‘proactive' in keeping this from spilling on to campus. Chances are this is someone who Sean knows.Holding this person or persons accountable sends a huge message to the student body."

Randel also praised the recently passed anti-bullying program proposed by Jeff Lasater, father of Jeremiah Lasater, a 14-year-old Vasquez High School student who shot and killed himself on campus in October.

"Project 51 sounds like an excellent program and I hope the schools adopt it," said Randel.

The landscape of bullying is constantly evolving.

Randel notes that parents have not lived through cyber-bullying.

Students now intentionally enrage their teachers in order to surreptitiously film content for "teacher screaming," a video gallery on YouTube.

Randel advises parents to involve local law enforcement when their child is a victim of cyber-bullying because schools are often hesitant to press charges.

"If you're still not satisfied you can contact the FBI directly," he says.

"Allowing students to report incidents anonymously is the key to making a real dent in school violence," says Randel. "The message we want to get across is that silence only benefits the bully."

Project 51 includes a toll-free number for kids or parents to call when they witness bullying.

Callers can leave the name and contact information of the school where the bullying occurs.

The Project 51 Hotline is (866) 721-7385.

The William S. Hart Union High School District's Safe Schools Ambassador Program is one of the models county officials might want to look at, said Greg Lee, district diversity coordinator.

The Safe Schools Ambassador Program teaches students to recognize and stamp out bullying on their own and how bullying poisons the culture of the school, he said.

California Assembly Bill 86 will allow school districts to suspend and recommend expulsion for bullies beginning Jan. 1. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill Sept. 30.

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