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B.R.A.V.E. reacts to schools failing scores to protect children

Lisa Ford Berry, founder of B.R.A.V.E. (Bullies Really Are Violating Everyone) Society, a local peer abuse and bullying awareness non-profit is not surprised at the recent State Auditor’s Office first look at what California school districts are doing to curb the growing epidemic of bullying and peer abuse.

The study surveyed schools in Fresno, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. The study found that while many have programs in preventing bullying; all of the sites that the auditors reviewed did not adequately document complaints. This lack of documentation, according to the auditors, “limits the ability of schools to track the volume, frequency, and outcomes of peer abuse complaints”.

Two of the six schools interviewed did not even investigate complaints within the required 60-day time limit.

The report also noted the California Department of Education does little or nothing to evaluate available statewide data. Evaluating and publishing this data, according to the report, could assist schools in preventing and responding to discrimination and peer abuse incidents.

Lisa Ford Berry, who lost her son due to excessive cyber and peer abuse back in 2008 said, “There is still a huge disconnect between the letter of the law and failure to comply. There are no consequences for failure to comply, nothing that makes anyone afraid to not comply.”

Berry, who comes from many years in the corporate world thinks schools are so focused on the problem of funding the implementation of safe school laws such as “Seth’s Law” they simply could get those in charge of Human Resource for the district to train their employees.

“Educators need to shift how they view bullying and peer abuse, said Berry. “They need to view it as important as staying safe in the workplace. Any good HR training expert could streamline the complaint process because in business, there are strong consequences and anyone who fails to follow the law knows this.”

“School administrators from the top down need to view peer abuse as we view a hostile work environment. A current example is Sacramento San Juan Unified School District’s Glenn Thompson who is currently on administrative leave because nine employees filed ‘complaints of a hostile work environment’. Why isn’t peer abuse between students given the same serious attention with appropriate consequences?” asked Berry.

B.R.A.V.E. is dedicated to educating students, parents, friends, and concerned community members about bullying and peer abuse. They have long understood that without teeth in laws like Seth’s Law we can only presume students are being protected. A bill named after Lisa Berry’s son, Michael, may help those who are being bullied get the help they are not receiving in the schools.

California State Senator Lou Correa is authoring Senate Bill 231, Michael Joseph Berry Peer Abuse Prevention and Awareness Act of 2013. The bill will ensure that the Department of Education establish and maintain a clearinghouse of online resources for students and parents needing information about conflict resolution, crisis intervention, suicide prevention and peer abuse prevention.

When enacted, SB 231 will connect both students and parents to the resources they need to address peer abuse head on and reduce the threat of more long-term, serious consequences that threaten the health and well-being of our students.

Berry said, “While SB 231 cannot be a substitute for the requirements of Seth’s Law, the Michael Joseph Berry Peer Abuse Prevention and Awareness Act of 2013 could provide more timely and effective responses to peer abuse complaints as well as more data. The California Department of Education and individual schools would receive more guidance on preventing and responding to peer abuse.”

For more information about B.R.A.V.E. Society email Lisa Ford Berry at LisaFordBerry@bravesociety.org or visit their web site (www.bravesociety.org) or their Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/BRAVESociety). For more information about SB 231 visit Senator Lou Correa’s web page (http://sd34.senate.ca.gov/2013-2014-session-year).

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