Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Kayla Marie Wright Story

One of my friends at a club I worked at passed me this story,it is sad to read yet her message is carried on .

Kayla Marie Wright (Jan. 12 1995 - Feb 15 2011), a 16 year old girl who drove to Colorado, into a ditch, crashing into a tree to end her life as a result of Bullying. Everyday in school, Kayla was constantly harassed and badgered by her peers. She was called names, pushed, shoved, and shunned. This physical torment led to her being harassed on her Face book page and being sent rude text messages. She one day decided she had enough. She stole her moms car, and drove to her "grave". Her suicide left her entire family completely devastated. Her sister looked at this unexpected tragedy as motivation to spread the word about "Bullycide" and how it needs to end. She created a YouTube page where she posts videos about Bullying and how it affects people around the world. She sends a message to all teens of proper ways to deal with Bullying and how one doesn't need to criticize another to feel good about themselves using her sister's story as a leverage

Saturday, August 23, 2014


A hate crime is usually defined by state law as one that involves threats, harassment, or physical harm and is motivated by prejudice against someone's race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability. Laws vary by state and if hate crimes are provided for by statute, the defintions of hate crimes and penalties imposed vary. States that have hate crime statutes provide harsher penalites for such offenses.
The underlying criminal offenses that are designated in hate crime laws include, but are not limited to, crimes against persons like harassment, terroristic threats, assault and crimes against property like criminal trespass, criminal mischief and arson. It may also include vandalism causing damage to a church, synagogue, cemetery, mortuary, memorial to the dead, school, educational facility, community center, municipal building, courthouse, juvenile detention center, grounds surrounding such places or personal property located within such places.
The current federal law regarding hate crimes deals with crimes where the offender is motivated by bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or ethnicity/national origin.
The following is an example of a state statute governing hate crimes:
  1. The Legislature finds and declares the following:
  1. It is the right of every person, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability, to be secure and protected from threats of reasonable fear, intimidation, harassment, and physical harm caused by activities of groups and individuals.
  2. It is not the intent, by enactment of this section, to interfere with the exercise of rights protected by the Constitution of the State of Alabama or the United States.
  3. The intentional advocacy of unlawful acts by groups or individuals against other persons or groups and bodily injury or death to persons is not constitutionally protected when violence or civil disorder is imminent, and poses a threat to public order and safety, and such conduct should be subjected to criminal sanctions.
b. The purpose of this section is to impose additional penalties where it is shown that a perpetrator committing the underlying offense was motivated by the victim's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability.
c. A person who has been found guilty of a crime, the commission of which was shown beyond a reasonable doubt to have been motivated by the victim's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability, shall be punished as follows:
  1. Felonies:
  1. On conviction of a Class A felony that was found to have been motivated by the victim's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability, the sentence shall not be less than 15 years.
  2. On conviction of a Class B felony that was found to have been motivated by the victim's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability, the sentence shall not be less than 10 years.
  3. On conviction of a Class C felony that was found to have been motivated by the victim's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability, the sentence shall not be less than two years.
  4. For purposes of this subdivision, a criminal defendant who has been previously convicted of any felony and receives an enhanced sentence pursuant to this section is also subject to enhanced punishment under the Alabama Habitual Felony Offender Act, Section 13A-5-9.
2. Misdemeanors:
On conviction of a misdemeanor which was found beyond a reasonable doubt to have been motivated by the victim's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability, the defendant shall be sentenced for a Class A misdemeanor, except that the defendant shall be sentenced to a minimum of three months

Friday, August 8, 2014

Family suspects cyberbullying led teen to commit suicide

Before she died, 14-year-old Kacie Palm told her mother about the nasty online exchanges coming from some teenagers — cyberbullies aiming to hurt teenage girls on social media sites, the Enterprise reported.
“She said, ‘Mom, they make up a fake account and they write all kinds of stuff — how fat they are and how ugly they are,’” her mother, Kerry Palm, recalled Tuesday. “That’s when I said, ‘Just get off of it. Shut it off, stay off of it.’ I said, ‘People don’t care. That’s the problem. They don’t care.’”
Three days later, on Thursday, Kacie, a beautiful, vivacious, 14-year-old about to enter her freshman year at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School in September, took her own life.
Her parents are searching for answers -- not only as to why their young daughter died so unexpectedly, but also why Kacie’s friends -- many of whom have posted comments on Twitter using the hashtag #justiceforkacie -- won’t talk to them about the circumstances that led to their daughter’s death.
“The couple of friends that she hung with, not one of them has come to me,” Kerry Palm, 44, said in the kitchen of her East Taunton home Tuesday afternoon. “I absolutely believe they know something.”
Taunton police are investigating. Several Facebook posts on Tuesday indicated that Kacie may have been a victim of cyberbullying.
Police have spoken with school officials as part of the investigation, Taunton Police Chief Edward Walsh said Tuesday.
“We’re looking into it, but no one has actually come forward directly to us,” Walsh said. “There have been some conversations with the school department, (to see) if they’ve got any information.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact Taunton police at 508-824-7522.
On Tuesday, some account holders tweeting with #justiceforkacie wouldn’t talk when contacted by a reporter on Twitter.
“We can’t talk about it,” wrote one. “Ummm no, I can’t speak about what happened sorry bye,” wrote another. “I can’t let information out,” wrote yet another.
But online, there’s a flurry of comments and speculation — by teenagers and adults — about what may have led Kacie to end her life, her parents said.
“What they’re saying (is) that there was a page about her that someone bashed her,” Kerry Palm said, while crying.
Another theory?
“They said she took a nude picture and texted it to this kid,” her mother said. “She wrote a (suicide) note and it basically said it was to do with him.”
Kacie died on Thursday, amid news reports across the country of online “Purges” on Facebook and Twitter — where forms of online abuse are encouraged and have led to nude photos of women, including underage women, being posted on social media.
The Palms said they haven’t seen anything online to support claims of cyberbullying. They didn’t know the passwords to Kacie’s social media accounts. She would log in and log out, said her parents, who were shut out from the online world their daughter lived in.
“There’s so many questions and so much hearsay,” her father, Steve Palm, 45, said. “We don’t know what’s true and what’s not true.”
On her Twitter page, Kacie had retweeted several dark tweets from @AGirlsLifeTwitt, which has 133,000 followers, in the days before her suicide.
“I want to sleep forever,” one retweet said. “I’m tired of pretending to be okay,” another retweet said. On July 10, a week before her death, Kacie retweeted “I will never be good enough for anyone.”
Kacie — with long, brown hair and big, blue eyes — told her parents she loved them daily, they said. She had some moody days, but nothing that her parents saw to be out of the ordinary for their teenage daughter.
“The thing is, she told us everything,” Kerry Palm said.
The Palms said they saw no warning signs in their daughter — and they’re speaking publicly about her suicide with the hope that it will help save another life.
They’re also speaking out to warn other parents about the dangers of social media.
“I just think all these sites, Facebook, I think it should all be gone, because it’s cruel,” Kerry Palm said, crying. “Just shut them all down. You don’t need it.”
On Thursday night, after spending a few hours with friends near her neighborhood, Kacie came home with her mother about 7 p.m. and went to take a shower, her mother said.
Less than an hour later, her father went to check in on her. Kacie had hanged herself in her bedroom, he said. She left her family a short note and told them she loved them. “This is goodbye. Sorry you have to find me this way,” the note said. “I love you all.”
The note also instructed her family to go on Facebook to message a specific teenage boy.
Steve Palm burst out crying while holding the note in their kitchen.
“This is so impersonal. This is what really pisses me off,” he said. “It’s not her. That’s her writing. But that’s not her.”
By 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, four separate Facebook pages titled “R.I.P. Kacie Palm” had a total of 4,600 ‘Likes.’
“It’s disgusting, disgusting,” Kerry Palm said of social media, tears streaming down her face. “I feel helpless. As a parent, I feel I didn’t protect her enough from this stuff.”

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Why do some kids become bullies?

I found this article to be useful and informative.


Everyone remembers at least one classmate who was well-known for aggressively taunting and teasing the kids with braces or glasses, or even pushing around the kids who were smarter or smaller than others, just to get some laughs.
You might even recall teachers and parents dismissing the behavior as "kids being kids" or telling those tormented to just ignore the bully. But ignoring a bully, whose behavior may be rooted in immense frustration or even abuse, usually isn't the answer.
Child and adolescent mental health specialists at the University of Michigan Health System say both parents and childcare providers need to be aware of what creates a bully's behavior and the toll it can take on the bully's victim to know when intervention is necessary.
"When you really take a close look at bullying, it's happening with kids who feel the need to be aggressive after being treated in an aggressive manner themselves," says Paul Quinlan, D.O., director of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Inpatient Services at the U-M Health System. "They're the kids who may be suffering from abuse or from just not having their needs met at school or at home."
Quinlan says between 2 percent to 16 percent of the population under the age of 18 bully others. According to KidsHealth, the most obvious signs of bullying are hostility and aggression - either physically, verbally, emotionally or sexually - that is directed toward another child who is physically and emotionally weaker. And the National PTA says one of out every ten children is the regular victim of a bully.
So what makes a child become a bully? Often children who are dealing with difficult situations at home, such as divorce, or in school will bully others as a way to feel more important or in control of things happening in their lives. Typically, a schoolyard bully is a child who has low self-esteem and is looking to achieve popularity.

"I don't think they really mean what they're doing," says Karthik, an elementary school student, about why some kids become bullies. "I think they just want to try and bully someone so they feel cool. But really, they're not cool - they're just doing something very bad to someone else."
And if the bullying persists and becomes a chronic behavior, Quinlan warns that the child is at a higher risk to continue to engage in anti-social behavior, such as stealing or attempting to physically hurt others, as an adult.
"Bullying is something that needs to be dealt with in a very thorough manner," he says. "School systems and other programs that deal with children need to work to recognize and identify this problem behavior and offer assistance to the families."
When the problem has been identified, Quinlan suggests parents take a close look at where the behavior is occurring - whether it's only happening in school or in unique settings. If the parents notice the behavior is persistent during play activities, in school and at home, they should consider getting a mental health referral from their pediatrician to get the situation under control.
"The good news is there's good results with intervention," says Quinlan. "The situation will be controlled and parents can really begin to help their child."
Yet with bullying, the tormentor isn't the only one who may need a little extra help from their parents. At some point in every person's life, he or she will be the victim of a bully, maybe because they are different from the rest of the kids or they're more vulnerable and easier to pick on, says Quinlan.
Kelly, an elementary school student, knows all-too-well what it's like to be bullied. "I have been bullied by someone in my neighborhood and he's taken my lunch money and hit me a lot of times - he just hates me and he won't leave my stuff alone."
Because of such situations, parents always need to be on the look-out for signs of bullying, especially since children often feel embarrassed about the situation and may be reluctant to tell their parents about the bully. Some signs that a child may be the victim of a bully include:
  • Making excuses for not wanting to go to school
  • Difficulty sleeping or eating
  • Increased anxiety about school or certain situations at school like riding the bus, using the restroom or going to recess
  • Missing personal items or the need for extra school supplies or money
  • Excessive trips to the school nurse, especially during unstructured time like lunch or recess
  • Unexplained bruises or torn clothing
To help a child deal with a bully, Quinlan says that parents need to encourage their child to speak directly to the bully, but never to be physically defensive because bullies are often bigger and stronger than their victim. And Kelsey, an elementary school student, agrees.
"If you feel like you're being bullied, you should tell an adult, but if there's no adults around, you should stand up for yourself," he says. "But two wrongs don't make a right, so don't push them or hit them back."

Parents also need to provide extra support to boost their child's self-confidence, help them build social skills to avoid conflict and make friends, and encourage them to seek the help of an adult or friends when a bully's around.
Facts about kids & bullies:
  • Schoolyard bullies typically have low self-esteem and are dealing with difficult situations at home, such as divorce, or are having trouble in school.
  • Bullies direct their hostility and aggression at other children who are physically and emotionally weaker to feel more powerful.
  • When the school system or another childcare program has identified a conduct disorder, parents then need to take a closer look at where the bullying behavior is occurring.
  • Signs that a child may be the victim of a bully include increased anxiety, difficulty sleeping, bruises or missing personal items.
For more information, visit the following Web sites:
U-M Your Child Health Topics: Developmental & Behavior Resources: A Guide for Parents

U-M News Release: School bells signal worries for some kids

National PTA: Helping Children Deal with a School Bully

TeensHealth: Dealing with Bullying

KidsHealth: Bullying and Your Child

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Social media raises fear of teen suicide contagion

I found this article very interesting and makes some valid point............Jared

Zionsville Community Schools Superintendent Scott Robison warned parents Monday that several students had reposted a certain video on their social media accounts.
In the 8-minute video posted on Google+, an eighth-grade student from Zionsville West Middle School discussed his thoughts on suicide.
The night of April 25, the boy hanged himself.
The day after he died, a 15-year-old girl, another Zionsville student, attempted suicide by overdose, according to a Zionsville Police Department report.
Police said they did not know if the youngsters knew each other or if the second teen had seen the video, but school officials notified parents Monday of the video.
"The school-parent partnership calls me to bring this to your attention in the event that you wish to have a conversation about it with your child," Robison wrote in an email to parents. The email included a link to suicide prevention information on the school website.
Police and school officials have released little information about either incident. Calls to school officials were not returned.
The episode highlights the complex role social media can play, and the fears it raises, as psychologists, parents and school officials grapple with depression among increasingly web savvy youths. Messages posted on social media have been known to thwart some suicides as adults and others intervene, but some experts say such public messages also may prompt other youths to consider taking their own lives.
"The thing we always worry a little bit about is a certain sense of contagion," said Dr. David Dunn, a professor of child neurology and psychiatry at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "There may be an increase in the number of suicide attempts after one has been publicized in a particular school system."
Dr. Adelaide Robb, director of psychiatry research at the Children's National Medical Center, said seeing someone talk about suicide on social media networks — and go through with it — can give permission for others to do the same.
And with an absence of restraints on the Web, it is up to parents to be vigilant.
Quick action needed
Psychologists, such as University of Indianapolis professor Katherine Kivisto, said suicide threats posted on social media rarely are false alarms.
Adult intervention needs to be immediate, especially during the critical time right after the post was made.
"The most important thing to do would be to reach out to an adult and for that adult to then go and speak with the child who is making the suicidal threat," said Indianapolis psychologist Robbi Crain. "The key thing in responding to those suicidal threats or talks is not to overreact, but also not to under-react."
Kivisto said talking to a suicidal student will make them less likely to attempt suicide.
Social media networks also take steps to address suicide threats posted on their sites.
Facebook spokesman Matt Steinfeld said that when someone reports a suicide threat, the reporting person is sent information on where to turn for help. Similar information also is sent to the person who posted the message.
Facebook users, Steinfeld added, make up a huge, online "neighborhood watch" that can be a first line of defense.
In New Jersey, a teenager posted a photo of the George Washington Bridge in November along with a statement saying he was thinking of jumping. A concerned friend contacted police and port officers, who spoke with the teen, according to a CNN story.
About a year ago, a California teen helped prevent a suicide by a New Jersey girl, who posted a threat on her blog. According to a USA TODAY story, the California girl, who knew only the other girl's first name, called police and a local suicide hotline, launching a chain of events that led to the rescue.
A cry for help
According to January data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 24 and results in about 4,600 deaths annually.
While suicide rates among teens have been lower than they were in the 1990s, statistics show a gradual increase over the past decade.
From 1990 to 2000, suicide rates had dropped from 12.5 suicide deaths per 100,000 people to 10.4, according to the CDC. They gradually rose over the 10 years that followed, until rates reached 12.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2010.
One explanation is that teens are at an age when parts of the brain that control impulsive behavior are not fully developed yet. They're more likely to act on a spur of the moment without realizing the consequences, said Dunn, the IU professor.
They're also learning what it's like to be in somebody else's shoes, said Mimi Brittingham, a therapist at Meridian Youth Psychiatric Center on the Far Northside.
"Sometimes, they over-identify with the angst of a friend, with the problems of a friend," she said.
Experts say teens post suicidal thoughts on social media to let people know they're in pain. Such statements are a plea for someone to listen.
Suicide warning signs include drug and alcohol use, change in eating and sleeping habits, verbal or physical aggressiveness, and physical pain, says the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
These don't necessarily mean a suicide is impending, Crain said.
"But something is going on that needs to be talked about," she said. "Talk about the feelings, talking about anything, really. Just get them talking."