Task force targets bullying - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Task force targets bullying

Group meets for first time since March 4 formation

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Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - "You're gay."

Coeur d'Alene middle school principals told members of the school district's new Anti-Bullying Task Force on Tuesday that the phrase is the most common statement students in grades six to eight sling at one another as a form of derision.

The 32-member task force is part of the school district's renewed effort to combat bullying. Tuesday's gathering in the school district's Midtown Center meeting room was the group's first official meeting since school members called for the formation of the task force on March 4. It was formed in response to an outcry from parents who told the board in February that school officials and teachers aren't doing enough to protect their children from bullies.

"The topic is daunting," said Superintendent Hazel Bauman, before leading the task force members through nearly two hours of discussion and exercises focused on the multi-faceted problem.

She said they have to find a way to "send a message to the students that this is not acceptable behavior."

The task force includes trustees, principals, counselors, school resource officers, parents, community members and students.

Finding a clear definition of bullying was the group's first challenge. Bauman said there are different views on what constitutes bullying.

"Is bullying really worse than random conflict? I think it is," she said.

Task force members were given large pieces of paper and markers and asked to write assumptions often made about bullying.

Before long, the meeting room's walls were covered with thoughts on the topic:

* "All kids will experience bullying."

* "We aren't strict enough."

* "Bullying is a projection of insecurity."

* "Bullying is often assertion of power."

Group members reviewed written definitions of bullying prepared by experts. They agreed with Bill Rutherford's definition of bullying, that it is intentional, repetitive, aggressive behavior that often involves an imbalance of power between the victim and the aggressor.

Rutherford, a school counselor, is now principal of Fernan Elementary.

Task force members also considered a New York Times column by Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate, and author of "Sticks and Stones," a book about changing the culture of bullying.

"The word is being overused - expanding, accordionlike, to encompass both appalling violence or harassment and a few mean words. State laws don't help: a wave of recent anti-bullying legislation includes at least 10 different definitions, sowing confusion among parents and educators," Bazelon wrote.

Officer Steve Harris, the SRO at Coeur d'Alene High School, said Idaho code on student harassment defines bullying, but it's not always effective because violations are considered infractions, with very few consequences. Although a report will show up on a student's school record, Harris said, "It's like giving him a speeding ticket."

Trustee Terri Seymour, who co-chairs the task force with Bauman, encouraged task force members to contact their legislators about the state's bullying laws.

"We need to help out our guys," Seymour said, referring to the SROs.

Jeff Bengtson, now principal at Lakes Middle School, said that when he was principal of Canfield Middle School, they began using a "bully-harassment notebook."

They started documenting every incident, even the first time a student exhibits bullying behavior, Bengtson said, because teachers don't always know how many times a child has done this before.

Bauman said they might consider making such a notebook a "best practice" in district schools.

The school district's four policies on bullying and harassment don't align well with one another, Bauman said, and often lead to confusion and inconsistency in how bullying is addressed throughout the district. She said they need a clearer protocol for when parents are called.

"Parents have to be part of the fight against this," Bauman said.

Several high school students on the task force were asked to talk about the bullying they see in the schools. Two of them indicated that students with mental disabilities are often targeted.

One boy said he watched a student with a disability sitting at a lunch table with some non-disabled students.

"He thought he was getting accepted, but the vibe I got was that they were bullying him and he didn't know it," he said.

Another high school student said that when bullying is witnessed by students in schools, it's hard for them to speak up about it because they fear retaliation.

Pam Ascher, a counselor who teaches art at Lake City High School, said that in 11 percent of bullying cases, intervention comes through peer reports. Adults intervene in 4 percent of cases.

"There's no intervention in 85 percent of cases," Ascher said.

Gene Malvino, a community member, told the group that bullying is a symptom of a larger problem and is related to drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, lying, cheating and other anti-social behaviors.

"The underlying problem is the lack of character education in our public schools. Good character is not formed automatically. It is developed through character education," Malvino said.

The task force will meet two more times in March, and then again several times before the school year ends. Goals include addressing the district's policies on bullying; identifying research-based anti-bullying programs to put in place; increasing parental involvement and education; and community engagement.

"I want to be aggressive about this because it's happening right now," said Trustee Seymour.

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  • karen89 posted at 6:14 pm on Sat, Mar 23, 2013.

    karen89 Posts: 1

    It is hard to make a statement when you really don't know the whole story. But bullying should be stopped. Parents should know what the activities of their teens are, and act at once. I am a mother and I know it’s hard to give time to your children when you are also busy working to support their needs. But I make sure that I can monitor their behavior.
    My kids are also victims of bullying. They might not get physically hurt but I know they are being bullied online. So what I did, I searched for a solution and got this service online, pgguard (www.pgguard.com). It sends me alarms when there are suspicious incidents and monitors my children's facebook account regardless of what they use to access it. If I can see any kind of bullying I speak to them in what they can overcome it. And sometimes I speak to the bully and explain that he can be expelled if they keep on doing it. And I always inform the parents of the bully also to help their children stop bullying other teens. There’s always a way, all we do as parents is to make actions or make some move to lessen it and then totally stop it.
    I believe that parents should take the biggest part of this. I am a parent of bullied children online. And I always act whenever pgguard sends me alarm of any suspicious incidents on my children's facebook account. Whenever bullying will take place, I talk to them how to handle the situation because bullying has different situations. And if my child can't overcome it then I show myself in by talking to the bully and to his parents. Because some parents don’t know that their children are bullies.
    I am busy with my work but I make sure that they are not being bullied again. I thank this service, pgguard which keeps me alert whenever harassment happens. There is also software that you can use, NetNanny. You can google these so that you will know more.
    I always say parents should interact in anyways. Find a solution and always communicate to your children so they will always open up their problems. Make sure you are always approachable how little their problems are. Because when they become parents they will teach their children also how to become good people.

  • Rationale posted at 10:31 am on Mon, Mar 18, 2013.

    Rationale Posts: 1974


    Claim all you want...it IS a choice. You have no scientific proof at all...you know, the same thing you demand everyone else use to prove God exists!

    There is no gay gene...only a gay agenda...and a playbook from the 1980's that has been used ad nauseum to vilify anyone who does not buy into it; any of these bullying tactics sound familiar?

    "The first order of business is desensitization of the American public
    concerning gays…To desensitize the public is to help it view homosexuality with indifference instead of with keen emotion. Ideally we would have the straight register differences in sexual preference the way they register different tastes for ice cream…”

    “The masses should not be shocked and repelled by premature exposure
    to homosexual behavior itself…the imagery of sex should be downplayed…”

    “…gays must be cast as victims in need of protection so that straights will
    be inclined by reflex to assume the role of protector...”81
    “…make use of symbols which reduce the mainstream’s sense of threat,
    which lower its guard…”

    “…replace the mainstream’s self‐righteous pride about its homophobia
    with shame and guilt…”

    “Talk about gays and gayness as loudly and as often as possible…” “The
    principal behind this advice is simple: almost all behavior begins to look normal if
    you are exposed to enough of it at close quarters and among your acquaintances.”

    “Constant talk builds the impression that public opinion is at least divided
    on the subject…”

    “Where we talk is important. The visual media, film and television, are
    plainly the most powerful image‐makers in Western civilization. The average
    American household watches over seven hours of TV daily. Those hours open up
    a gateway into the private world of straights, through which a Trojan horse
    might be passed. As far as desensitization is concerned, the medium is the
    message‐‐of normalcy. So far, gay Hollywood has provided our best covert
    weapon in the battle to desensitize the mainstream.”

    "When conservative churches condemn gays, there are only two things we can do to confound the homophobia of true believers. First, we can use talk to muddy the moral waters. This means publicizing support for gays by more moderate churches, raising theological objections of our own about conservative
    interpretations of biblical teachings, and exposing hatred and inconsistency.
    Second, we can undermine the moral authority of homophobic churches by
    portraying them as antiquated backwaters, badly out of step with the times and
    with the latest findings of psychology. Against the mighty pull of institutional Religion one must set the mightier draw of Science & Public Opinion (the shield and sword of that accursed ʺsecular humanismʺ). Such an unholy alliance has worked well against churches before, on such topics as divorce and abortion. With enough open talk about the prevalence and acceptability of homosexuality, that alliance can work again here.”

    “…the campaign should paint gays as superior pillars of society. Yes, yes, we
    know – this trick is so old it creaks”

    “…it will be time to get tough with remaining opponents. To be blunt, they must be vilified.”

    “…we intend to make anti‐gays to look so nasty that average Americans will
    want to dissociate themselves from such types…”

    “Each sign will tap patriotic sentiment; each message will drill a seemingly
    agreeable position into mainstream heads…”

    “The public should be shown images of ranting homophobes whose secondary
    traits and beliefs disgust middle America…the Ku Klux Klan demanding that
    gays be burned alive or castrated; bigoted southern [sic] ministers drooling with
    hysterical hatred to a degree that looks both comical and deranged; menacing
    punks, thugs and convicts…Nazi concentration camps…"

  • idahokid posted at 8:44 am on Mon, Mar 18, 2013.

    idahokid Posts: 45

    and here you all go bullying each-other........

  • cdanative33 posted at 8:15 pm on Sat, Mar 16, 2013.

    cdanative33 Posts: 361

    I get the sense that you are in over your head. If you try to justify a verse that condones slavery, from the document that you believe to be the absolute truth, by saying that slavery is what the enslaved people wanted, you're making the same argument that many people in the confederate south made to justify slavery. Do you agree with them?

  • cdanative33 posted at 5:12 pm on Sat, Mar 16, 2013.

    cdanative33 Posts: 361

    The name calling is great...it really makes your points seem more valid. Here's another one boohoo. Explain away.

    Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against Babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off. The attacking armies will shoot down the young people with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for the children. (Isaiah 13:15-18 NLT)

  • boohoo2U posted at 3:30 pm on Sat, Mar 16, 2013.

    boohoo2U Posts: 406

    get with the program and leave the king behind. I can spell how I want to; it spell-checks real fine.

  • Mahiun posted at 8:11 am on Sat, Mar 16, 2013.

    Mahiun Posts: 4970

    Anyone wanting to call another person an "ignoramus" should probably learn how to spell it, first.

  • boohoo2U posted at 9:28 pm on Fri, Mar 15, 2013.

    boohoo2U Posts: 406

    to cdaignoramous33

    If only you wannabe bible thumpers understood the significance of context. Maybe you get your sunday school lessons from the TV. Being a slave to a family in the Tribes of Israel cannot be compared to the horrors of slavery in the south. Your esteemed messiah obama hails from the lineage of slavers who sold fellow people of color - neighbors - to merchantmen like John Newton and into slavery with certain death. There was no year of Jubilee or fulfillment of a contract for indentured servitude.

    Lev 25:35 - 43 " 'If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you. You must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. " 'If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.

    Isaiah 14:2 And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.

    Seems the tables turned righteously in Israel's favor. I hope you don't believe the plight of low wage earners in the USA is that removed from slavery. All tables will soon be turned over. No one will be happy or safe in that day, not even the Preppers.

    I count myself privileged to bought with a price - a bond servant of Christ. The Apostle Paul was a resistant convert. May you experience a similar confrontation that brings you in. As for me, I think I'll bully a multitude of children and grandchildren with the truth that you so easily distort.

    Save yourself time cdanative33 and begin with Acts chapter 9.

  • cdanative33 posted at 7:10 pm on Fri, Mar 15, 2013.

    cdanative33 Posts: 361

    I would love to keep going baby driver.

  • cdanative33 posted at 7:07 pm on Fri, Mar 15, 2013.

    cdanative33 Posts: 361

    I couldn't wait:

    "However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)"

    Do you disagree?

  • cdanative33 posted at 6:27 pm on Fri, Mar 15, 2013.

    cdanative33 Posts: 361

    Baby driver, do you believe in slavery?

  • cdanative33 posted at 6:19 pm on Fri, Mar 15, 2013.

    cdanative33 Posts: 361

    Arguing with absolutist idealogues is pointless too, but it's kind of fun...

  • babydriver posted at 4:34 pm on Fri, Mar 15, 2013.

    babydriver Posts: 1393

    Arguing with perverts is a total waste.

  • The Simple Truth posted at 4:17 pm on Fri, Mar 15, 2013.

    The Simple Truth Posts: 563

    Conservatives are natural bullies, so they will - of course - support them in the schools. They like picking on weaker people and whine like mad when they get the tables turned on them - that's when they turn into the 'prosecuted martyrs' (shorthand for whiners - see Glenn Beck)

  • The Simple Truth posted at 4:14 pm on Fri, Mar 15, 2013.

    The Simple Truth Posts: 563

    wow....that's just a sick attitude/behavior.

  • idaholiberal posted at 4:06 pm on Fri, Mar 15, 2013.

    idaholiberal Posts: 181

    I always regret engaging the natives, but I'll bite.

    apathoid: I would love a list of my intolerances vs. yours. My only intolerance is hypocrites. This school board is supposed to act in the best interest of our children. Not further their minority political agendas. We parents of school children do not have the time to invest in a school board position because we are busy raising our children. We see what placing politics above the welfare of your family has done to the current board. Yet, this group continues to choose Koler over their families. Sad group if you ask me.

    It is pretty hard to be a bully when you don't come from a position of strength. I am a liberal, living in po-dunk welfare red state, Idaho. The only strength I have is when you include the states that support your sorry a**es.

  • Mahiun posted at 3:32 pm on Fri, Mar 15, 2013.

    Mahiun Posts: 4970

    You don't even come close to "knowing everything about my personal choices" -- as evidenced by the fact that you still think sexuality is a choice. Next thing you know, women will be wanting the vote, and they'll be talking about repealing Prohibition!

    All you know about my sex life is that it takes place with the same sex, not the opposite sex. And I already know that yours takes place with the opposite sex, not the same sex. The difference is that I know a whole lot more than that about your sex life, and that's all you know about mine. So that one's pretty much a wash, wouldn't you say?

  • concernedcitizen posted at 8:42 am on Fri, Mar 15, 2013.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    You confuse your own intolerance with those of us not needing to know everything about your personal choices. There was nothing wrong with the "don't ask don't tell".

  • wheels1 posted at 8:04 am on Fri, Mar 15, 2013.

    wheels1 Posts: 423

    Most North Idahoans are homophobes and could care less about equal treatment for everyone.

  • apathoid posted at 7:05 pm on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    apathoid Posts: 211

    @idaholiberal - the truly sad part of your post is that your too ignorant and blind in your hate to realize that you're the bully. Your kind never sees it. The rest of us call it "The Intolerance of the Tolerance Crowd".

    You're vile. Truly vile

  • idaholiberal posted at 6:31 pm on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    idaholiberal Posts: 181

    I know! How about instituting an IB/PYP program in our schools so that they can learn that people are not all the same. They could learn about global responsibility and how to apply it to their own environment. No?

    Well, I'm glad Trustee Seymour is concerned about bullying in our schools. I wonder what our leader, Hamilton, thinks about bullying???? Maybe when he resurfaces from his "family emergency" he can address the lack of positive parental role modeling for these bullies.

  • max power posted at 3:26 pm on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    max power Posts: 559

    *** Who's The Catcher? The Hardest Part Of Being Gay ***

    Frisco, Calif - A recent poll conducted by The Urban Research Department has concluded that the number one difficulty of being homosexual in America, is deciding who will assume the "catcher/sissy-man" role in the relationship.

    A distant 2nd in terms of hardship was "coming out of the closet". And rounding out the top three was "giving the school yard bullies the satisfaction of knowing they were right all those times when they so cruelly put suspect classmates sexuality into question".

    Blue Boy Magazine assistant editor and all around flamboyant "sista" Jay-Jay Dubois had this to say, " I'd have to say most of the arguments me and my boyfriend (Sven Svenson) have are about is who is going to be the sissy-man for the day. I mean we try and switch it up, like he'll get Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and I'll take the one's in between. Weekends are a whole other story. It can get real catty and our sissy-man claws can come out real quick! Just this last weekend I was like I want to be the bottom, and he was like no I wannabe, and like I was already wearing my sissy-man outfit, and like he said how can I tell? And I was like because, you can see my thong riding up my hiney when I bend over, Stupid! And like he was like touche...

  • cdanative33 posted at 10:59 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    cdanative33 Posts: 361

    It's humorous watching the resident bloggers here formulate their own self serving reality throughout the course of the day. By this afternoon, I'm sure that you will have all firmly convinced each other that our public schools have courses on the Kama Sutra and proper methods for illicit drug use....the Cdapress blog used to be interesting; now it's an odd combination of disturbing and funny.

  • boohoo2U posted at 10:29 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    boohoo2U Posts: 406

    capnbutch' comment should read: It is unreasonable to demand certain behavior from young people before the teachers understand whatever it is PARENTS want taught.

  • boohoo2U posted at 10:27 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    boohoo2U Posts: 406

    What a mess. Parents have ultimate authority over their children's education. Teachers who wish to teach outside-the-box (sexual permissiveness without parental consent) need to present their teaching intent to the school board during an open meeting for approval. If they teach contrary to even one parent, they will be challenged publicly during an open meeting with the potential of dismissal.

    CC - you and I are on the same page. Before Board Change (BBC), anything flew, and conscientious parents were trashed if they questioned content of teaching. Their only option was home-schooling or private school. CEA Teachers' Union needs to be put on notice that they will comply or be terminated.

  • concernedcitizen posted at 10:02 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530


    I have to respectfully disagree. As long as the parent is financially responsible they do NOT have the "RIGHT" and its should never ever be promoted in the school or by school officials. It is our responsibility to educate our "children" the responsibilities of relationship and have the proper tools for when they are responsible for themselves.

  • cdanative33 posted at 9:58 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    cdanative33 Posts: 361

    Your kids were home schooled, Kohler. I get the sense your making this up so that it fits with what you believe is happening in the schools.

  • Mahiun posted at 9:45 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Mahiun Posts: 4970

    I was floored when my child came home and told me that they were informed that they have the right to be sexually active at 16 withOUT parent consent.
    And did you actually check with the school and the teacher to determine whether this was what was actually said, or simply what your child heard?

    It's possible that the teacher may have said this, in response to a direct question. And the teacher would be correct, and well within his/her bounds of propriety, if the discussion was about Idaho law and the definition(s) of statutory rape. (It gets complicated, but 16 is sort of the beginning of a "transition period" toward 18. Females [only] are restricted under the age of 16, at which time they gain some rights of sexual expression (but only if the guy is younger than 19), but do not have full rights of majority until the age of 18.

    There is no restriction whatsoever on the age of participants in a same-sex sexual act or relationship. Evidently, straight people require a great deal more supervision.

    The law is bizarre, misogynistic, paternalistic, unjust, unfair, imbalanced, and antiquated. But if the discussion was about Idaho law, then the teacher would technically have been correct. I really, really doubt, however, that the teacher volunteered this information to a class of sophomores, out of the blue and for no reason, spontaneously telling them, "You just turned 16? Congratulations --- go boink your brains out!"

    Which brings me back to my first question: did you actually ask the teacher?

  • Mahiun posted at 8:34 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Mahiun Posts: 4970

    It is a part of the lexicon; it means "homosexual". But that does not excuse its use as an insult, nor its perception as a term of insult, denigration, and derision. "Idiot", "hillbilly", "ignoramus", and "redneck" are all part of the lexicon, too, but we don't consider them acceptable terms in most social settings.

    Nor would we consider it appropriate to hurl "breeder" as an insult, or to excuse its common widespread use in day-to-day conversation as being simply "part of the lexicon".

    That's a pretty p*ss-poor excuse for boorish behaviour, VP.....

  • capnbutch posted at 8:07 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    capnbutch Posts: 729

    This article is all over the place.

    If you and I are confused by the use and misuse of words, then what of the kids? It is unreasonable to demand certain behavior from young people before the teachers understand whatever it is that they want.

  • boohoo2U posted at 7:52 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    boohoo2U Posts: 406

    Your children have the right to be sexually active at 16 without your consent.

    According to one authority promoted in SD271, sexual permissiveness begins with enrollment in public school. Children need to be exposed rather than sheltered and it's the teacher's job to ensure a very broad exposure. BUT! religious constraints have no bearing in society. If you wish to be a prude, keep your acts and opinions within the confines of your home.

  • DeNiles posted at 7:52 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    When will they understand that bullying between students is the expected outcome of lack of serious class discipline. If the miscreants know they won't be punished for obviously bad behavior in class what's to keep them from doing it anywhere they want to? They have no misbehavior boundaries and they know it. If they're allowed to bully the teachers their gonna bully the fat kid, the kid wearing glasses or the new kid in town.

    And while we're at it, the CdA city council is a horrible example of bullying. We have a small group who brazenly stomps on others whether it is another elected official, city employees or citizens. If our city attorney can openly curse out a city councilman and have no fear of any repercussions then there is a real serious problem.

  • mister d posted at 7:44 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    So a teacher should lie to your child if asked a question? You can't shelter them forever, at some point children will ask questions you don't approve of.

  • concernedcitizen posted at 6:06 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    "Gene Malvino, a community member, told the group that bullying is a symptom of a larger problem and is related to drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, lying, cheating and other anti-social behaviors."

    All of these things are rampant in SD271. The halls of the middle and high schools sound like that of an old time sailing vessel. "Freedom of expression" has gotten out of control. Some of the girls dress like street walkers and wonder why they are called names. Other kids have more metal hanging off of their face than a 57 Chevy. Boys dressing like girls, girls acting like boys and the ever present idea of sexual experimentation. I was floored when my child came home and told me that they were informed that they have the right to be sexually active at 16 withOUT parent consent.

    We will never be able to hold our children to a higher standard until we their educators to a higher standard.

  • miles1 posted at 6:06 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    miles1 Posts: 110

    @voxpop Your point highlights the need to end bullying very well! Quoting Shakespeare does not make you worldly.

  • voxpop posted at 5:31 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    Shakespeare said it best, "Much ado about nothing." My boys, now in their mid 30's and graduates of Cda schools, STILL will call something/someone "gay." It's part of the lexicon.

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