New Jersey’s New Anti-Bullying Laws: Dr. Robyn Silverman on Fox News


As of today, NJ will have some of the most stringent anti-bullying laws put into play in our school systems.

Why are they good?

(1) Punctuates the seriousness

(2) Mandates reporting

(3) Mandates training

(4) Mobilizes people to get involved and make them accountable

(5) It acknowledges bullying on/off school grounds affects children’s learning in school.

Why are they tricky?

(1) Money is an issue in schools: We know that many schools have some money budgeted towards anti-bullying programs. But more is needed. That means schools must get creative. Just as everything can’t be placed in the parents laps, the schools can’t shoulder the whole burden. We need a parent- school- community partnership that creates a movement. For example, I’m being brought in to the Morris County School system to speak about bullying on November 17th at the hosting school Randolph middle school, not by the schools, but an outside org, Jewish Family Services of Metrowest. This is not just a school problem, it’s everybody’s problem. Schools will need help. My hope is that more outside organizations and volunteers will step in.

(2) Time: It takes time to train everyone and get them up to speed- time to learn how to balance a very large work load and how to handle cases.  It won’t be perfect.  At times it may seem extremely overwhelming.  It wasn’t fair when parents were solely in charge, it may not be fair that schools are solely accountable either.  Shared problems need joint solutions and shared burden of time and resources.  These are our children we’re talking about.

(3) Buy in: Laws don’t change people’s behavior in and of themselves.  They are the starting point.  What we need is a collective vision and the creation of a school climate based on character, strong leadership, and a commitment to a safe and healthy learning environment for everyone. This isn’t easy.  It isn’t quick.  But it’s necessary for change.

I’m in discussions with some schools about doing some specific work with their student leaders.  Leaving everything to the adults is a missed opportunity.  Has to be ground up as well as top down– everyone working together.

How will kids react?

If there is a varied approach that is applicable and relevant to them- not outdated, not using cliché PSAs but rather provide real world strategies, for problems that they really encounter, I think it can be positive.  We can’t think that having one assembly, a list of rules called out by the teacher on the first day, a school slogan, a bunch of t-shirts, or a bumper sticker is going to change anything.  This needs to be ongoing, with a dialogue between all parties- parents, teachers, students, various leaders in the school, to say what’s working and what’s not and what we can do next.

Haven’t we already been doing this in the schools?

While bullying has always been in existence, the landscape of bullying has changed.  It’s not often the overt, physical bully on the school yard.  It’s covert.  It’s gossip and ostracizing. It’s cyberbullying. Saying “be nice” is not enough.  Outdated rules and methods won’t necessarily apply to bullying as it is today.

I think our children deserve our full devotion to finding ways to help them cope with bullying, aggression, and intimidation.  There is foundational work that needs to be done—laws may dissuade some but may be meaningless to others.  The key is in what we do with those laws to create a safe and respectful learning environment for our children, not in the laws themselves.

What would YOU like to see happen?

Facebook comments:

4 replies
  1. Angie
    Angie says:

    I think you 3 came to an agreement that it starts with parenting. Bulying is an issue about dominance and parental abuse. If boys come across eachother, they usually have a “whose stronger, better at batting, throwing or who has the better dad and things like that. They end up taking it out on fighting. Parental abuse comes in many forms and neglect is what leads to bullying in schools. Because children who are neglected of having certain things-this could range from new clothes, shoes even (especially) lunch, they come to school and see the child who is not neglected, gets dropped off in a nice car, has new shoes and clothes. In turn the neglected child has feelings like sadness, jealousy, intimidation and to overcome those feelings, he beats up the kid who is not neglected, or takes something from him. I can tell you this from experience. I have gone to school with children raised in a community where they would recieve clothes and other things from other places than their parents. And those do get jealous of other kids, they do make sure they are able to beat them up, and it all comes from their families and how they are raised and neglected. In a simpler way, have you ever been to the Ghetto as some would call it. I don’t mean to say it or mention it in a bad way, but it is the mixture of children going to school with children from different communities. So it does start with parents and what they are able to provide and how they raise their children.
    Also, bullying in college or high school is different as the man points out. Bullying is a little boy telling his or her family members or friends about the bullying in private, saying “I don’t want to play over there because he always ‘picks’ on me, [or] yesterday I got beat up [and the teacher or school still doesn’t know] and he said if I tell on him, he is going to beat me up again. Bullying is getting beat up, getting your lunch money taken, getting your lunch taken, getting your watch or toys, even bike taken, and the only kids that ranges down to doing that, are the kids who are deprived, neglected and what ever else, sorry to say but it’s true.

  2. joyce
    joyce says:

    While u make a great point about the billing between boys comeoaring dads, or shoes, or whatever kids can be mean especially when a chum is in a special school. We all know that kids r doing This and we want to help them with it. But we put our faith in teachers to help us make sure our children are date at school no they can’t do everything but when it the teacher who’s doing the bullying its scary! I’m the mom of the boy who got the teacher on videio cursing and belittleing him, I did not beleive him at first because everytime I epidemic call the school about some things he had told me they always would assure me that my son was and did always bend the truth a bit so naturaly u think ok some kids with adhd do these for some attention so this year I new yes was not in fact doing this but the principles wouldn’t bleive him . Because they has me thinking it so no one did so he felt like no one did. With good reason so I told him if this is happening take your camera and record it knowledge is power. So not expecting what hw brought to me, I was outraged by what I saw. The school had me beleaving he was lying about a lot and I beleived rhem. So parents please beive your child or atleast make the school investigate! Whitch they should anyway. But my son is going threw hell right now he feels like jes being punished! He also tells me this is not the only teacher to get in face and threaten him and I beleive him

  3. joyce
    joyce says:

    So please get involved! Let fight for cameras in classrooms for our kids protection as well as the teachers if they have nothing to hide. Bankbridge , gloucester county special services is very clean clean has the top of the line everything cameras in halls outside a policemen onthe campus so why would they not have them in classes, so if they say a particular child was threatening them. Or vice versa this would not b happening! I know my child isn’t always easy and cane have bad adelesent behavior but he in a school thats suppose to help them not be thebullies themselves, now he dosent trust anyone. Hes getting.g called rat , deathtreats its alful I’m beating myself up over this its not his fault moons deserves to b talked to like that not even my dog! And the teacher is on paid leave! Omg it disgusting!

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  1. […] own child dev media pundit Dr. Robyn Silverman spoke with Fox news on the pros and cons of this week’s new Sept 1, 2011 tough legislation in her NJ district which […]

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