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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Anti-bullying suicides

atimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-school-bullying-videos-20131028,0,150664.story

latimes.com

Anti-bullying videos questioned after two students' suicides

By Matt Pearce and Melanie Mason
This post has been updated, as indicated below.
1:20 PM PDT, October 28, 2013
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SPARKS, Nev. -- Two students from separate schools committed suicide within days of each other this month -- which is National Bullying Prevention Month -- and both boys apparently had been bullied. Now, parents are asking questions not just about bullying but also about anti-bullying videos, which both schools aired shortly before the incidents.
Brad Lewis' son Jordan, 15, a sophomore at Carterville High School in Illinois, killed himself Oct. 17 by shooting himself in the chest.
Jordan left behind an affectionate, apologetic note that, according to Lewis, concluded with the line, “Bullying has caused me to do this. Those of you know who you are.”
Lewis criticized investigators for not pursuing the bullies more aggressively, but also turned some of his questions toward his son's school, which showed an anti-bullying video to students the day before Jordan killed himself.
"All I know is they were discussing the bullying, and showing kids bullying, and at the end of the show they showed pictures of kids that took their lives," Lewis said. "When a child or a person is at the end of their rope, and they don’t think there’s anywhere to go, and they don’t think anyone's doing anything about it, and they see something on video, and they relate."
Lewis added, "You’re dealing with kids. Kids don’t look at the long-term situation -- they look at the short term, they look at the pain they feel now, how can they end that pain.”
[Updated, Oct. 28, 12:34 p.m.: Carterville Unified School District Supt. Bob Prusator told the Los Angeles Times he didn’t know exactly which program had been shown, but added that it was apparently one shown at many schools across the U.S. He said the schools’ ant-ibullying efforts would continue to be evaluated.
“It’s part of the ongoing challenges of public school systems,” Prusator said. “I think every school district in America would agree, the issue of how we keep kids safe in all aspects ...  there’s a lot of different levels. We feel a lot of pressure to keep our kids safe, and so we’re always evaluating things, but we also need feedback from people.... Particularly on social media stuff, we just don’t know what kids are experiencing.”
Prusator said school officials had never received reports of Jordan being bullied at school, and added that the incident was still under investigation by local law enforcement.]
Then last week in Sparks, Nev., 12-year-old Jose Reyes brought a gun to school, shot two classmates and killed a teacher before killing himself.
Those who knew Jose said sometimes he would cry and say people were calling him names. One witness to the shootings recalled Jose saying, "You guys ruined my life, so I'm going to ruin yours."
On Oct. 11, the documentary "Bully" reportedly had been shown to all Sparks Middle School students during their sixth-period class. The film, according to students, depicted two stories in which bullying drove one student to commit suicide by hanging and another to bring a gun on a school bus.
Some students and parents say the parallels are disturbing.
“I don’t understand why that would be shown in the schools,” said Veronica Rudd, whose daughters are in seventh and eighth grade at Sparks Middle School.
“They are trying to be very proactive [about bullying], but I don’t know if it’s coming across to the kids that way,” Rudd said. ”Because at this age, children can be influenced by many things.”
Washoe County School District officials did not respond to requests for comment about the video. Lt. Erick Thomas of the Sparks Police Department said the film is part of the investigation into the Oct. 21 shootings.
"Detectives are reviewing the video to see if it has any bearing on the investigation," Thomas said.
Research is mixed on the benefits of in-school bullying-prevention programs.
One 2010 scholarly review of existing research estimated that school prevention programs reduced bullying by more than 20%.
A different study released by University of Texas-Arlington researchers came to the opposite conclusion, noting that their data showed "students attending schools with bullying prevention programs were more likely to have experienced peer victimization, compared to those attending schools without bullying prevention programs."
The Texas-Arlington study cautioned that the programs may not be causing increased bullying and said more research was necessary to draw conclusions.
The issue presents a significant policy problem for educators.
Bullying victims are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, and suicide is the third-leading cause of death for teenagers. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control statistics from 2000 to 2010, between 300 and 450 kids ages 12 to 15 killed themselves every year -- about one a day.
Teenage suicide rates rise every year, even though research suggests bullying decreases as students get older.
Brad Lewis said parents from around the country contacted him after his son's suicide. They were concerned not just about bullying, he said, but also about bullying videos.
Lewis wondered if parents should be notified before schools show such videos -- or even if parents should see the films first. "Sometimes it might be graphic," he said, "but it can affect people, especially kids that are in a dark place."
Mason reported from Sparks, Nev.; Pearce from Los Angeles.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Brrr… Antarctica Sea Ice Reaches 30 Year Record by Extent and Volume

Brrr… Antarctica Sea Ice Reaches 30 Year Record by Extent and Volume

From NRO, Valerie Jarrett

Obama's Valerie Jarrett: Often Whispered about, But Never Challenged
By  John Fund

Surprise! Michelle Obama’s Princeton Buddy Is Exec at Company That Built Failed O-Care Website

Surprise! Michelle Obama’s Princeton Buddy Is Exec at Company That Built Failed O-Care Website

Former Gitmo Detainee Was on the Ground in Benghazi the Night of 9-11 Attack

Former Gitmo Detainee Was on the Ground in Benghazi the Night of 9-11 Attack

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Are Guns the Problem?

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October 3, 2013

Are Guns the Problem?

Walter E. Williams

10/2/2013 12:01:00 AM - Walter E. Williams
Every time there's a shooting tragedy, there are more calls for gun control. Let's examine a few historical facts. By 1910, the National Rifle Association had succeeded in establishing 73 NRA-affiliated high-school rifle clubs. The 1911 second edition of the Boy Scout Handbook made qualification in NRA's junior marksmanship program a prerequisite for obtaining a BSA merit badge in marksmanship. In 1918, the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. established its own Winchester Junior Rifle Corps. The program grew to 135,000 members by 1925. In New York City, gun clubs were started at Boys, Curtis, Commercial, Manual Training and Stuyvesant high schools. With so many guns in the hands of youngsters, did we see today's level of youth violence?
What about gun availability? Catalogs and magazines from the 1940s, '50s and '60s were full of gun advertisements directed to children and parents. For example, "What Every Parent Should Know When a Boy or Girl Wants a Gun" was published by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The 1902 Sears mail-order catalog had 35 pages of firearm advertisements. People just sent in their money, and a firearm was shipped. For most of our history, a person could simply walk into a hardware store, virtually anywhere in our country, and buy a gun. Few states bothered to have even age restrictions on buying guns.
Those and other historical facts should force us to ask ourselves: Why -- at a time in our history when guns were readily available, when a person could just walk into a store or order a gun through the mail, when there were no FBI background checks, no waiting periods, no licensing requirements -- was there not the frequency and kind of gun violence that we sometimes see today, when access to guns is more restricted? Guns are guns. If they were capable of behavior, as some people seem to suggest, they should have been doing then what they're doing now.
Customs, traditions, moral values and rules of etiquette, not just laws and government regulations, are what make for a civilized society, not restraints on inanimate objects. These behavioral norms -- transmitted by example, word of mouth and religious teachings -- represent a body of wisdom distilled through ages of experience, trial and error, and looking at what works. The benefit of having customs, traditions and moral values as a means of regulating behavior is that people behave themselves even if nobody's watching. In other words, it's morality that is society's first line of defense against uncivilized behavior.
Moral standards of conduct, as well as strict and swift punishment for criminal behaviors, have been under siege in our country for more than a half-century. Moral absolutes have been abandoned as a guiding principle. We've been taught not to be judgmental, that one lifestyle or value is just as good as another. More often than not, the attack on moral standards has been orchestrated by the education establishment and progressives. Police and laws can never replace these restraints on personal conduct so as to produce a civilized society. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. The more uncivilized we become the more laws are needed to regulate behavior.
What's worse is that instead of trying to return to what worked, progressives want to replace what worked with what sounds good or what seems plausible, such as more gun locks, longer waiting periods and stricter gun possession laws. Then there's progressive mindlessness "cures," such as "zero tolerance" for schoolyard recess games such as cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians, shouting "bang bang," drawing a picture of a pistol, making a gun out of Lego pieces, and biting the shape of a gun out of a Pop-Tart. This kind of unadulterated lunacy -- which focuses on an inanimate object such as a gun instead of on morality, self-discipline and character -- will continue to produce disappointing results.