Government Panel Mulls Kids’ Online Safety

By Larry Magid
CBS online
(CBS) Last year, Congress passed the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, which established the Online Safety Technology Working Group (OSTWG) a panel of 29 representatives from Internet companies, academia, non-profits and government to study and report on how to best protect kids online. In April, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced the appointments.
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Bullying victim’s mom, Sirdeaner Walker, seeks school post

By MIKE McAULIFFE
MassLive.com
SPRINGFIELD — Sirdeaner L. Walker, whose 11-year-old son Carl Walker-Hoover committed suicide in the spring after complaining he was bullied at school, is running for the School Committee.
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Character Education, Student Engagement Essential to Stop Bullies

By Michael Novinson
Kansas City e-zine
For mother Sirdeaner Walker, reality surpassed her worst nightmares. She imagined her son Carl, 11 at the time, would be doing homework or playing videogames as she cooked dinner on April 6.

Washington, D.C. But when she walked into his room, she found him hanging by an extension cord tied around his neck.
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“The Bee Hive” commentary: Homophobia is killing our kids

By E.N. Jackson
Frost Illustrated
Last week I watched in horror as ministers, church officials, and parishioners of a black Connecticut church, Manifested Glory Ministries, invoked the name of Jesus to release the “gay demons” supposedly possessing the soul of a 16-year-old boy. What I was watching was not a horror movie but a YouTube video clip that had been sent to me by a friend.
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Experts to Congress: Kids aren’t “just kids” when bullying

By Chris Linden
Medill Reports
WASHINGTON — Tales of the school bully are as old as the playground, but Congress wants to end those tales and provide additional tools for monitoring school safety.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act, introduced in the House in May, would require states to report incidents of bullying and harassment, in addition to data already required on violent crimes, guns and drugs. The bill would also include funding for bullying prevention programs. It overlaps initiatives already taken by some states to monitor antagonistic behavior among children.

Experts suggest bullying is more than a rite of passage for children and often leads to violent behavior such as school shootings and suicide. Testifying before an education subcommittee last week, several students and anti-bullying advocates emphasized character education programs and peer mentoring groups to counteract bullying. Full story.

Opinion: Seeing Walker case, bullying will never stop

By Andy Harper
Sidelines, Middle Tennessee State U.
I’d like to think that I’m somewhat of an idealist. I’d like to think that world peace is achievable and the philosophy of “love your fellow man” isn’t just meaningless print on a Christmas card.

So why are kids like Carl Walker, 11, and Eric Mohat, 17, killing themselves? Maybe they’ve been listening to “Teenage Suicide” by Big Fun too much. Or maybe the vicious social hierarchy portrayed in movies like “The Heathers” is reality.

Sirdeaner Walker, mother of Carl, told members of the House Education Committee last week about her son. “What could make a child his age despair so much that he would take his own life? That question haunts me to this day, and I will probably never know the answer.”

“What we do know is that Carl was being bullied relentlessly in school.”

Her pitiful story was part of a plea for Congress to strengthen anti-bullying practices in our country’s education system. Walker, along with reps from the National Association of School Psychologists and “Students Against Violence Everywhere,” want more programs that involve an active approach to preventing bullying.

Walker said “faggot” and “gay” were some of the bullying slurs used against Carl. Likewise, William and Janis Mohat, parents of Eric, filled a federal lawsuit against their local Ohio school district because their son was harassed in a similar way. Full story.

Mass. school district to monitor effectiveness of anti-bullying policy

By Jeanette DeForge
The Republican
CHICOPEE, Mass. — The School Committee has modified its bullying policy slightly to ensure prevention programs are monitored for effectiveness.

Chicopee joined a number of school committees across the region in reviewing anti-bullying policies after 11-year-old Carl J. Walker- Hoover, a sixth-grader at Springfield’s New Leadership Charter School, committed suicide in April. His mother claimed he had endured constant harassment by schoolmates that was not addressed by school administrators.

The Chicopee policy bans any type of harassment of students and explains students can report problems to teachers and administrators. Full story.