Category Archives: Finally Fast

Highmark Foundation reports $17.1 million savings when bullying prevention programs are sustained in Pennsylvania schools

AscentiveThe Highmark Foundation has released the first savings analysis created about the impact of bullying prevention programs in Pennsylvania. One example the report highlights is a $17.1 million in potential school savings when the number of students who leave schools because of bullying is reduced.

The Cost Benefit of Bullying Prevention: A First-Time Look at Savings indicates there are cost savings for schools when they initiate long-term evidence-based programs to prevent bullying. For the first time, the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Windber Research Institute looks at the anticipated financial impact of the expansion of the evidence-based Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) during a three-year period in the 49 Pennsylvania counties that the Highmark Foundation serves.

“The cost-benefit analysis report provides valuable and positive outlooks that bullying prevention programs are having a greater impact in our schools, among health care organizations, within families and throughout the community,” said Highmark Foundation President Yvonne Cook. “The Highmark Foundation is focused on supporting health care initiatives that address the improvement of service delivery systems. It is our hope that this report will serve as a change agent for bullying prevention in schools and organizations across the nation.”

The report also compares the value of reduced health care utilization and care costs when bullying is reduced. Some of the various health-related conditions or problems caused by bullying incidents include mental health disorders, headaches, abdominal pain and/or alcohol use. On average, 31.4 percent of students with these bullying-related health disorders are treated at an estimated $1,683 per student (per 18 months).

“If the number of students who bully or who are bullied decreases, fewer students will experience such health-related consequences and a direct reduction in treatment costs will result,” said Dr. Matthew Masiello, director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Windber Research Institute.

This report demonstrates the Highmark Foundation’s continued efforts to address and fund evidence-based bullying prevention programs in Pennsylvania, and supports previous findings that 13 percent of Pennsylvania school children are experiencing a safer, more responsive school climate through exposure to the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, as noted in Bullying Prevention: The Impact on Pennsylvania School Children, a report released by the Highmark Foundation in 2011.

The Highmark Foundation has also recommitted funding to the Windber Research Institute and the Center for Safe Schools through combined $1 million grants. The funding will support bullying prevention efforts in Pennsylvania through activities designed to fill gaps in resources, provide unavailable services and strategic development of outcomes evaluation.

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Sears Tackles America’s Bullying Epidemic Head-On

AscentiveCyber safety news from the Ascentive team

Parents of the 13 million children who suffer from an acute bullying problem[1] can now find solutions at their fingertips. Sears has announced the launch of Team Up to Stop Bullying to address America’s bullying issue, which spikes as students return to classrooms and playgrounds. Team Up to Stop Bullying is the first solutions- and service-based anti-bullying coalition striving to provide immediate solutions that parents and schools can implement today.

“Team Up to Stop Bullying provides much-needed resources to parents, children, educators and communities and will help Americans understand that bullying is a not a normal part of childhood,” said Marie Newman, bullying solutions author and managing director of Team Up to Stop Bullying. “Every seven minutes a child is bullied at school and studies show that schools with an anti-bullying program see a decrease in bullying up to 50 percent. While there isn’t one fix to every bullying problem, there are solutions and services that work. Now, for the first time, there is one simple place to connect to those solutions at sears.com/TeamUp.”

Sears Team Up to Stop Bullying initiative aims to connect those in the throes of a bullying problem to valuable resources with solutions and services provided by a nationwide coalition of more than 55 organizations. The Team Up to Stop Bullying website, sears.com/TeamUp, provides easy access to hundreds of solutions and services for parents and schools from non-profits like: Boys & Girls Clubs of America; Hazelden, publisher of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program; National PTA®; Stand For The Silent; Solutions For Bullying; It Gets Better project; The BULLY Project and End to Cyberbullying.

Celebrities will also “team up” with the coalition to spread the word. The Kardashians, Marlo Thomas, George Kotsiopoulos, Kyle Massey, Jennifer Veal, Lee Hirsch (director of the new BULLY movie) and more, are lending their voices as Team Up to Stop Bullying ambassadors.

“When you’re on the front lines of bullying it’s hard to know where to turn to find immediate solutions,” said Lana Krauter, senior vice president and president of Sears Apparel. “Sears is proud to have created Team Up to Stop Bullying to help families and communities find solutions. We’ve built a tremendous coalition of partner organizations that, like Sears, raise their hand and say that children deserve to be protected and learn in safe environments.”

Sears encourages those affected by bullying to team up in three ways:

1.     Visit sears.com/TeamUp to Find Solutions to Bullying or Take the Power Pledge

  • Find a solution to your child’s unique bullying problem or find a service provider who can assist you or provide counsel in implementing solutions.
  •  Commit to stop bullying and support a movement for positive change in our schools by taking the Power Pledge online at sears.com/TeamUp. The pledge includes committing to never demean, humiliate or be disrespectful toward anyone, to be inclusive and accepting of everyone and to celebrate unique differences. Visitors can also donate to Team Up to Stop Bullying, which benefits non-profit solutions-oriented anti-bullying organizations.

2.     Buy the “BULLY” documentary T-shirt: Show your support with the Team Up to Stop Bullying T-shirt, available for $9.99 at sears.com/TeamUp. Sears is donating $3.75 from the purchase of T-shirts now through October 31, 2012 to Donorschoose.org to benefit The Bully Project®‘s 1 Million Kids program. Donorschoose.org is a charitable organization committed to working with The Bully Project to end bullying and The Bully Project is the outreach arm of the recent “Bully” documentary.

3.     Shop back-to-school at Sears: Sears customers can shop to stop bullying on Sears’ “Super Back-to-School Saturday” (August 11). Customers can download a one-day-only savings pass online at sears.com/TeamUp for 15 percent off on in-store purchases of apparel, footwear and fine jewelry. Sears will donate five percent of in-store purchases using the savings pass (up to $70,000) to its non-profit anti-bullying coalition of partners.

 

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Cyberbullying – Monitoring Children’s Social Media Usage Is Important, but So Is Allowing Their Mistakes

AscentiveCyber safety tips from the Ascentive team

Facebook has provided millions of people worldwide with an unmatched outlet for sharing information about their lives. Through the social network giant, establishing community with old friends and new has never been easier.

But Facebook also presents an assortment of issues — especially for parents, according to a Kansas State University parenting expert.

 

Chuck Smith, professor of emeritus of family studies and human services at the university’s College of Human Ecology, says increased usage of Facebook by children has sparked questions of how to prevent cyberbullying and protect their personal privacy. Simultaneously, some parents have been forced to consider how much information they should share about their children on Facebook.

 

But despite the risks, Smith says using Facebook is worthwhile for children if parents remain aware.

“Facebook is a tool that could be used for good or bad,” Smith said. “It’s up to parents to help their children understand how to use it well and be vigilant about misuse.”

 

Online bullying is Smith’s primary concern among young Facebook users. Preventing online bullying should involve parents retaining essential control of a child’s Facebook account, he said. This allows parents to read all posts and ensure the highest levels of security settings are in place. Appropriate security settings are beneficial in a variety of contexts, including Smith’s other primary concern with young Facebook users: online predators.

To counteract possible negative influences, Smith advises parents of children under 16 years old to have the family use the computer in a common area — something that may not sit well with some children.

“The impact on relationships could be with children regarding parents as too intrusive in their personal lives,” Smith said. “Though as long as the children are living in the home, parents have every right to be vigilant.

“For parents, vigilance changes with the child’s age, but you still have to be responsible.”

Parents should instruct their children on responsible sharing of information early, but parents also should allow a reasonable amount of freedom for children to make their own mistakes, Smith said. Failure to allow a meaningful amount of freedom could be detrimental to the parental-child relationship.

“The younger generation is very much an online generation,” Smith said. “We have to be realistic and teach them about the danger and responsibility of posting online and considering what they might say and how they might react. Parents who are overly restrictive might lose their opportunity.

Standards of responsibility also exist for parental social media usage — especially when it concerns their children. Smith advises parents consider their own security settings before sharing certain information about their children. The same principle applies for any sort of related information, including when the family will be on vacation.

“You have to be aware of who you have given permission to view the page,” Smith said.

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Study Reveals Children view Cyberbullying differently from Bullying

AscentiveCyber safety tips from the Ascentive team

University of British Columbia research comparing traditional bullying with cyberbullying finds that the dynamics of online bullying are different, suggesting that anti-bullying programs need specific interventions to target online aggression.

“There are currently many programs aimed at reducing bullying in schools and I think there is an assumption that these programs deal with cyberbullying as well,” says Jennifer Shapka, an associate professor in the Faculty of Education at UBC who is presenting this research at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting in Vancouver.

“What we’re seeing is that kids don’t equate cyberbullying with traditional forms of schoolyard bullying.  As such, we shouldn’t assume that existing interventions will be relevant to aggression that is happening online.”

Shapka is presenting a study that involved 17,000 Vancouver, B.C. students in Grades 8 to 12 and a follow-up study involving 733 Vancouver, B.C. youth aged 10-18.

Results of the studies show that about 25-30 percent of youth report that they have experienced or taken part in cyberbullying, compared to 12 per cent of youth who say they’ve experienced or taken part in schoolyard bullying. However, “Youth say that 95 per cent of what happens online was intended as a joke and only 5 per cent was intended to harm,” says Shapka. “It is clear that youth are underestimating the level of harm associated with cyberbullying.”

According to Shapka, the findings suggest that in cyberbullying adolescents play multiple roles – as bullies, victims, and witnesses – and “downplay the impact of it, which means that existing education and prevention programs are not going to get through to them.”

“Students need to be educated that this ‘just joking’ behaviour has serious implications.”

Being victimized online can have consequences for a person’s mental health, developmental wellbeing, and academic achievement, according to Shapka. In extreme cases, there have been reports of suicide.

Traditional bullying, or schoolyard bullying, is often associated with three main characteristics: a power differential between bully and victim, a proactive targeting of a victim, and ongoing aggression.

Shapka says, research is beginning to show that cyberbullying does not necessarily involve these three characteristics. Traditional power differentials – size and popularity – do not necessarily apply online. There also seems to be more fluid delineation between the roles youth play; it is not unusual for an individual to act in all capacities – bullies, victims, and witnesses – online.

Previous work by Shapka and her colleagues has shown that in contrast to traditional bullying, cyberbullying is rarely associated with planned targeting of a victim.

A number of Internet safety campaigns suggest parents keep an eye on their children’s online activity but Shapka says this kind of micro-managing can undermine healthy adolescent development.

“An open and honest relationship between parents and children is one of the best ways to protect teenagers from online risks related to cyberbullying, Internet addiction, and privacy concerns related to disclosing personal information online.”

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President Clinton Announces Impact of Commitments Made at the Second Annual Clinton Global Initiative America Meeting

AscentiveBusiness news from the Ascentive team

President Bill Clinton announced the impact of the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America), a meeting dedicated to forging collaborative solutions to the United States’ most pressing economic challenges. This year, CGI America attendees, who include leaders from government, business, and nonprofit sectors, made more than 50 new commitments valued at more than $1 billion that will create 32,000 jobs and fill more than 500,000 vacant jobs in the United States.

“This year’s CGI America participants have formed creative partnerships and come up with inventive strategies to accelerate employment, start new businesses, and prepare Americans to take the jobs that are open in the new U.S. economy,” said President Clinton. “From nearly $176 million of new capital that will go to small or medium enterprises, to the nearly 150,000 students who will gain access to STEM education opportunities, this year’s meeting has demonstrated the important advances we can make when working together towards a shared prosperity.”

Throughout the meeting, attendees generated Commitments to Action: new, specific plans to address an economic challenge facing the United States, such as job creation, small business development, clean energy, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, housing recovery, and workforce development. Some of the commitments announced today will provide underserved young people with skills in digital media and construction, give women and minorities opportunities for entrepreneurship, and transform foreclosed properties into affordable housing.

When fully funded and implemented, the 58 new CGI America commitments aim to positively impact the lives of nearly 3.9 million Americans in the following ways:

  •              More than 32,000 jobs will be created, including 6,600 green jobs.
  •              More than 500,000 jobs will be filled by veterans and their family members.
  •              Nearly 68,000 people will receive improved access to capital or financial services.
  •              More than 117,000 people will benefit from access to job training and certification.
  •              Nearly 760 million kilowatt hours of energy will be saved.
  •              More than $84 million of new capital will be invested in green initiatives.
  •              More than 12,000 people will gain increased access to health services.
  •              More than $640 million of the total value of the new commitments will address housing recovery, including returning distressed single-family housing to productive use, retrofitting homes in 25 new cities, and developing affordable housing units for low-income individuals.

President Clinton concluded the two-day meeting by encouraging leaders to find ways to create an innovative and sustainable tomorrow. In the final session, “What’s Next? Towards a More Perfect Union,” Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Regina E. Dugan, senior vice president of Advanced Technology and Projects at Motorola Mobility; Duncan Niederauer, director and CEO of NYSE Euronext, Inc.; Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed; Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and director of Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History; and Mark Vachon, vice president of Ecomagination at General Electric, spoke about the importance of STEM education, supporting American innovation, and the future of the American economy.

The second day of the CGI America meeting opened with the “Sustainable Finance” plenary session, where Donna Gambrell, director of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund; Lisa Hall, president and CEO of Calvert Foundation; Ted Howard, executive director of the Democracy Collaborative; and Jim Koch, chair and founder of the Boston Beer Company, Inc., discussed sustainable access to capital to both grow existing businesses and finance new ventures.

Equal opportunity in employment and entrepreneurship was the topic of the second plenary session, “Pathways to Opportunity,” which featured Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; Peter G. Peterson, chairman and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation; Chelsea Clinton, board member of the Clinton Global Initiative and William J. Clinton Foundation;  John Hope Bryant, founder, chairman, and CEO of Operation HOPE, Inc.; Kyle McCollom, founder of Triple Thread Apparel; Ai-jen Poo, director of National Domestic Workers Alliance; Jerry Sue Thornton, president of Cuyahoga Community College; and Joan Walker, executive vice president of corporate relations at Allstate Insurance Company.

CGI America is sponsored by J.B. & M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation, Allstate Insurance Company, The Dow Chemical Company, ExxonMobil, The Joyce Foundation, The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and APCO Worldwide.

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Anti-Cyberbully Service Adopted by 100 Schools in 100 Days

AscentiveCyber safety news from Ascentive

SchoolMessenger today announced that demand for Talk About It®, its anonymous communication service, has been strong since the company’s official launch in January. Over the last 100 days, more than 100 schools have signed up for the service, adding tens of thousands of new students to a user base that already exceeds more than 300,000. A partial list includes: Birmingham City Schools (AL), Food and Finance High School (NY), Irving Independent School District (TX), Mobile County Public Schools (AL), Modoc Joint Unified School District (CA), Montgomery County Public Schools (VA) and Mt. Juliet High School (TN).

Originally launched in 2005, and currently in use by more than 300,000 students, Talk About It is the first and only anonymous communication service that allows students to ‘speak up’ by engaging in text or online messaging with trusted school staff members when on-campus threats, cyberbullying or other concerns occur which warrant attention. Using electronic communications, which are largely ubiquitous among today’s students, reduces the stigma of being seen reaching out to a counselor or faculty member or ‘snitching’ on a fellow student. Schools and districts find it provides students an effective way to break the ‘code of silence’ and initiate a confidential, two-way dialogue that can lead to immediate and actionable results.

“Giving students a comfortable way to communicate with teachers, counselors and administrators is vital to the safe, secure and productive learning environment we want to have in our schools,” said Dr. Dana T. Bedden, Superintendent of Schools for Irving Independent School District, which serves more than 34,000 students in 38 schools and learning centers in Texas. “If students don’t report an issue, then it’s likely to continue being an issue. With Talk About It, students can maintain their anonymity and feel confident that someone will be alerted, listen and then help resolve any problems or concerns.”

“We especially liked the idea of communicating with students in the way they communicate with each other, which is through text and online messaging,” said Dr. Craig Witherspoon, Superintendent of the Birmingham City Schools, which serves 25,000 students in 51 schools in Alabama. “Allowing them to anonymously communicate with an adult they trust will make them more likely to report things that trouble them.”

“Talk About It is a remarkable and unique tool that gives students an outlet for sharing their concerns without fear,” said David K. Akridge, Executive Manager of Information Technology for Mobile County Public School System. MCPSS is the largest public school system in the state, serving over 63,000 students in more than 100 schools and facilities across Mobile County.

“We are excited about the adoption of the Talk About It program as it will allow our staff to reach our students in the technology world — which is where they live — in order to engage in effective conversations with them,” said Mike Martin, Superintendent, Modoc Joint Unified School District, which is located in the northeast corner of California. “A top priority for us is a safe learning and working environment and we feel confident that the service will assist us in addressing this high priority.”

“In this time of high profile bullying incidents, Talk About It delivers an ideal means of communicating with anonymity, comfort and safety where our student body can feel free to speak out,” said Roger Turgeon, principal, Food and Finance High School in New York City.

“When we launched under the SchoolMessenger brand in January we had high hopes for continued growth of our business, but the last few months have far exceeded our expectations,” said Carter B. Myers, vice president of Anonymous Communications Solutions for SchoolMessenger and co-developer of Talk About It. “The fact that we have brought on board over 100 schools in just the first 100 days is a testament to the value that school leadership places on having a true two-way dialogue with students regarding bullying and other issues.”

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Bully Documentary Ignites a National Conversation About the Harmful Mental Health Effects of Bullying

AscentiveCyber Safety news from the Ascentive team

This year 13 million American kids will be bullied and three million students will be absent because they feel unsafe at school, according to the documentary Bully. Bully sheds light on the harmful mental health effects bullying can have and has inspired a national conversation about how parents and educators should deal with this nationwide crisis.

“Bullying is a very serious issue that can result not only in immediate physical injury, but in lifelong emotional scars as well,” said Angela Mohan, a California-based licensed marriage and family therapist and member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. “Bullying in 2012 isn’t the same thing that parents may have experienced when they were young. Teens face bullies at school, home and in the online world. There’s no escape.”

Talking about how to handle bullies and how parents and educators can provide needed support is critically important. Parents and educators need to take action to identify bullying that may be happening now, to stop bullying that is taking place and to prevent it from happening in the future.

CounselingCalifornia.com offers conversation guidance for parents and educators who suspect their child or student is being bullied:

  •      Ask a general, open-ended inquiry: “Is anything going on at school or online with your friends/classmates that you want to talk about”? If the child seems hesitant to open up, don’t force the issue.
  •      Share a personal story: “When I was in high school…” Parents can relate with their child and encourage a conversation by telling a story about a time when they were bullied at school or at work.
  •      Make a direct inquiry: “Are you being bullied”?

On the flip side, if you suspect your child or student is acting like a bully, it is important to talk about the serious and lasting impact bullying can have on children and the potential consequences the child may face for being a bully. Equally important is talking to your child about changing his or her behavior.

CounselingCalifornia.com offers tips for parents and educators who suspect their child or student is acting as a bully:

  •      Sit down and talk to your child or student.  Be gentle but firm in your approach.  Ask open-ended questions to reduce the risk of the child becoming defensive (like, “Tell me what happened,” or “Your actions have hurt someone.  What do you think your consequence should be”?).  Is there any provocation (real or perceived)?
  •      If you are too aggressive (physically and/or verbally) in your response to bullying, you will be reinforcing the behavior.  Some ideas of appropriate consequences are to have the child make amends with the victim (to restore a sense of safety), do a community service, do special chores around the house, or remove a privilege or valued item for a while.
  •      Set clear and firm boundaries as to what is acceptable or not.  Set clear and firm consequences if the behavior continues.  Follow through consistently.

Some kids may be reluctant to talk about bullying. They might be embarrassed, afraid of the repercussions of telling someone or simply uncomfortable talking about it. If this is the case, parents or educators should enlist the help of another adult with whom their child is comfortable, such as an aunt or uncle, school counselor, pastor or talk therapy with a licensed marriage and family therapist.

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