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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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.

School bullying can be devastating, lawmakers hear

By Carrie Wells
McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Sirdeaner Walker was cooking dinner on April 6 when she went upstairs to check on her 11-year-old son, Carl Walker-Hoover, who’d gotten into a fight that day at school and seemed upset.

All year, bullies had been making his life miserable, calling him a “faggot” and threatening to kill him, and when Walker went upstairs, she found Carl with an extension cord wrapped around his neck, hanging from the ceiling.

“What could make a child his age despair so much that he would take his own life?” said Walker, of Springfield, Mass.

On Wednesday, Walker and others came before two congressional education subcommittees to tell them that bullying is a national crisis. School officials, the witnesses said, must halt what they called an atmosphere of complacency that can have devastating effects on children long into adulthood. Full story.

Congress urged to take action against school bullying

By Mary Bruce
ABC News
Sirdeaner Walker was cooking dinner for her family while her son Carl was in his room, where she thought he was doing his homework.

Instead, she later discovered, Carl had hanged himself with an extension cord around his neck. He was 11 years old.

“What could make a child his age despair so much that he would take his own life?,” Walker asked members of the House Education Committee today. “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.” Full story.

Mother of bullied suicide victim testifies to Congress

Advocate.com
Sirdeaner Walker, the mother of an 11-year-old boy who committed suicide in April after antigay bullying, spoke about school safety to two House subcommittees today. Walker, who says her son complained that classmates threatened him, called him gay, and made fun of how he dressed, has been fiercely critical of the school’s refusal to address the bullying.

The hearing comes after the introduction of the Safe Schools Improvement Act in the House of Representatives, which would guide administrators in an effort to protect students against bullying.

“Schools must be safe places for all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, so that they can learn without fear of being bullied or attacked,” said U.S. representative Carolyn McCarthy, a New York Democrat.

The Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and the Healthy Families and Communities subcommittees held the joint hearing titled “Strengthening School Safety Through the Prevention of Bullying.” Full story.

When words can kill: ‘That’s so gay’

By Susan Donaldson James
ABC News
Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover was 11— hardly old enough to know his sexuality and yet distraught enough to hang himself last week after school bullies repeatedly called him “gay.”

The Springfield, Mass., football player and Boy Scout was ruthlessly teased, despite his mother’s pleas to the New Leadership Charter School to address the problem.

Sirdeaner L. Walker, 43, found Carl hanging by an extension cord on the second floor of the family’s home April 6, just minutes before she was going to a meeting to confront school authorities again.

“I am brokenhearted,” she told ABCNews.com. “We worry about the economy and about Iraq, but we need to be worried about our schools.” Full story.