Group of teens making fun of a girl

In 2014, Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker sponsored legislation, IR 1198-2014 to create a bullying awareness website, www.SuffolkStopBullying.org. The website provides valuable information including anti-bullying resources for students, teachers and parents to prevent bullying in schools. “I’d like to thank Suffolk County County Executive Steve Bellone, the Suffolk County Information Technology Department, Health Department, Police Department and Youth Bureau for their commitment in addressing bullying. We all must find our voice and speak up against bullying!”

- Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker


WHAT IS BULLYING?

Many young people can be unkind to each other during adolescence as they refine social skills and grow into adults. While these interactions can be unpleasant, there is a clear line between normal conflict and bullying.

DEFINITION OF BULLYING

Incidents of bullying must include all three of these characteristics: 

  1. Intentional Aggression: The aggressive behavior is a deliberate attempt to hurt or control another person or persons by targeting them.
  2. Imbalance of Power: The aggressor targets someone who has (or perceives the target to have) less power than they do and uses it to achieve their goal of hurting or controlling that person. Imbalance of power can include differences in such things as: physical strength or body types, access to embarrassing information, popularity, and social status related to wealth and/or talents. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  3. Repetition: (or has the potential to be repeated) over time for the sole purpose of harming or controlling the targeted person or persons.

TYPES OF BULLYING

These are the four types of bullying, which can occur separately or simultaneously: 

  1. Physical Bullying such as: kicking, tripping, pushing, spitting at, taking or breaking someone’s personal things, hitting, pinching, mean or rude gestures, and intimidation by physical proximity.
  2. Verbal Bullying such as: name-calling, teasing, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, threatening to cause harm.
  3. Relational or Social Bullying such as: purposely excluding someone to cause them hurt, convincing others not to be friends with the the targeted person, spreading rumors, character assassination, and embarrassing someone in public.
  4. Cyber or Digital Bullying (bullying over electronic devices) such as: mean text messages or emails, “liking”, “favoring” or “following” an aggressor’s posts, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles. Cyberbullying continues to increase as digital media use becomes more prevalent in the social culture of children and teens and college age students.
    Both the kids who are targeted and those who bully others may develop serious, lasting problems affecting academics, legal, social, physical health and emotional well-being. The harmful effects of bullying are frequently felt by others, including friends and families, and can hurt the overall climate and health and safety of schools, neighborhoods, and society.

IS IT BULLYING?

Be cautious about labeling. While the media uses the terms “victim,” “bully,” and “bystander” to refer to the roles that youth can play, it is important to consider the impact that these labels can have on young people’s identities. Many people have played all three roles at any given time in life. Therefore, it is preferred to focus on the behavior in question rather than the labeling of a person as a “bully” or “victim”. It is better to focus on the bullying as changeable behaviors (aggression and targeting) rather than as a label that the person must wear (bully and victim).

BULLYING IS A LEARNED BEHAVIOR. IT CAN BE UNLEARNED.

Media reports often call any aggressive behavior among young adults “bullying,” but this is not exactly accurate. There are no federal laws governing bullying. The federal and state laws instead address bullying-like behaviors under more specific terms such as hazing, harassment, assault and stalking. These behaviors require different prevention and response strategies.

Remember: Even single acts of aggression (whether or not bullying) should be reported & investigated to prevent reoccurrence or escalation.

For more information on bullying please go to the stop bullying website.


WHAT IS AN UPSTANDER?

Since students often look to their peers for how they will respond in a group interaction, peer reactions to aggression can make or break a bullying situation. Students who stand around passively to watch or laugh at someone being targeted only enable those bullying behaviors to be prolonged; but, if they intervene appropriately, the bullying tends to stop.

Students who can communicate bullying response skills are considered “upstanders” and upstander empathy, as compared to bystander apathy, is the key component in changing any school climate.

UPSTANDER: Someone who actively stands up for his or her beliefs; A person who does what they think is right, even if they are alone; A person who comes to the aid of a person targeted by aggression.

BYSTANDER: A person who is standing near and sees something that happens, without being or getting involved in it; A person who is not active in standing up for his or her beliefs; A person that, by passive consent, makes it seem that bullying is acceptable.

Bullying, in all its facets, is primarily a group phenomenon. It occurs because there are bystanders to observe the behavior. Bullying generally requires witnesses if there is to be a payoff for the aggressor. Conversely, bullying will diminish when those same bystanders step-up to interrupt the negative behavior and there is no further payoff for the aggressor.

“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.” (Yehuda Bauer)

Adolescents’ attitudes are highly influenced by their perception of what their peers do and think. These same young people can be highly motivated by the expectations of respected peer role models. When students lead anti-bullying efforts in schools, the results are reductions in bullying and more positive student attitudes toward school, increased student willingness to seek help, and less tolerant attitudes toward aggression in all of its forms.

Students can learn to re-frame a communication so that the focus is put on the changeable behavior or conflict rather than the person. At that point, the behavior can be changed. Students who stand up for someone who is, at that moment, unable to do so for themselves, are role models for civility, kindness, and high character.

They can make all the difference in the world at the moment they stand up and make aggression unacceptable behavior. They are creating ripple effects that will directly affect, for the better, the physical, mental and social health of someone who is targeted.

Click here for more information on becoming an Upstander.

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SUICIDE PREVENTION 24/7 HOTLINES

Girl with her back facing us looking at an empty park

There is ALWAYS someone that will listen to you.

Suicide is a major problem among young people in the United States. It is the third leading cause of death for young people ages 12–18 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2007). In a typical 12-month period, nearly 14 percent of American high school students seriously consider suicide; nearly 11 percent make plans about how they would end their lives; and 6.3 percent actually attempt suicide (CDC, 2010).

Nation Suicide Prevention Hotline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Any time of day or night, trained counselors are standing by to talk with you if you or someone you care about is having a suicidal thought.

the Trevor Project

LGBT National 24/7 Hotline: Trevor Helpline
Call 1-866-488-7386

A crisis intervention and suicide prevention phone service. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.

Crisis Text Line

Crisis Text Line (CTL)
Text “CTL” to 741741.

Helps individuals in crisis by connecting them with a compassionate, trained listener through a toll-free texting service. CTL is available nationwide and 24/7. For more information, contact the crisistextline or DOSOMETHING.ORG

The Response Hotline of Suffolk County

RESPONSE HOTLINE OF SUFFOLK COUNTY 24/7
Call 631-751-7500

The crisis intervention/referral hotline is open every day of the year, day and night, including holidays. Professionally trained and supervised volunteers offer callers telephone support and help them to explore options that can lead to thinking through next steps. We do not offer therapy or advice, but help callers lower their anxiety and find their own solutions.  Crisis counselors also provide referrals for support groups, clinicians, mental health clinics, other hotlines and a host of other community programs and services.

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RESOURCES

Extensive resources are available online.

NATIONAL SITES:

STOPBULLYING.GOV

The National Online Resource for just about everything on bullying, where you can get tips, facts, toolkits and classroom training materials.

PACER National Bullying Prevention Center

PACER is the Minnesota Parent Training and Information Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs. Numerous offerings include: Educator activities and toolkits for all ages, events, activities, outreach, and education. Resources from PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center make it easy to take action.

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network is a national organization that seeks to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in K-12 schools across the U.S. GLSEN features a trove of data, from the THINKB4USPEAK campaign to downloadable K-12 lesson plans, contests, National Climate Survey, peer education, videos and store.

24/7 CRISIS & PREVENTION SITES:

NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE: 24/7
Call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Any time of day or night, trained counselors are standing by to talk with you if you or someone you care about is having suicidal thoughts. The toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in their national network. These centers provide 24-hour crisis counseling and mental health referrals.

RESPONSE OF SUFFOLK COUNTY: 24/7 HOTLINE
Call: 631-751-7500

The crisis intervention/referral hotline is open every day of the year, day and night, including holidays. Professionally trained and supervised volunteers offer callers telephone support and help them to explore options that can lead to thinking through next steps. They do not offer therapy or advice, but help callers to lower their anxiety in finding their own solutions. Crisis counselors also provide referrals for support groups, clinicians, mental health clinics, other hotlines and a host of other community programs and services.

LONG ISLAND CRISIS CENTER AND RUNAWAY HOTLINE: 24/7
Call: 516-679-1111 for the Middle Earth Hotline

Call for live online anonymous counseling. Text “LICC” to “839863” for one-on-one, free, confidential text message counseling (texting is available Monday-Friday from 3pm until 11pm, standard text message rates apply).

“The Long Island Crisis Center provides free, anonymous call in, online, texting or outreach help at any time no matter who you are or what your needs are”. The center provides Crisis intervention, Suicide Outreach Program, L.I. Runaway Hotline, Counseling, Information, Referral, LGBT Pride for Youth Program, Young Latina Initiative and other supportive services to all Long Island residents.

SUFFOLK COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES:

  • Child Protective Services: 24/7 Call: 1-800-342-3720 to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
  • Adult Protective Services: Call: 631-854-3195, 3196, 3197 to report a concern for a person who is: over 18, who is physically or mentally impaired, frail, ill, disabled, and in a situation where they are harmed or threatened with harm.
  • Emergency Housing: Call: 631-854-9100 Offers Emergency Housing Assistance for needs occurring after 4:30PM and on weekends.

THE TREVOR PROJECT
LGBT National 24/7 Hotline
Call: 1-866-488-7386

The hotline is available every day and hour of the year for crisis intervention and suicide prevention phone service. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. Numerous support services and resources can be found.

SITES FOR EDUCATORS, FAMILIES, STUDENTS:

CORNELL COOPERATIVE EXTENSION OF SUFFOLK COUNTY
Call: 631-727-7850 Ext. 331
M-F 9am-4:30pm
or email tcj2@cornell.edu

Offers educational workshops on bullying and cyber-bullying for parents, after-school staff, camp staff, educators and youth professionals at your location anywhere in Suffolk County. Programs about bullying are also available for parents and school-age children together.

CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION SERVICES OF LONG ISLAND (CAPSLI)
Call: 631-289-3240 or 516-621-0552
Office hours: M-F 9am-4pm

For over 30 years, CAPS has been Long Island’s leading organization dedicated to preventing bullying and child abuse. The Bullying Prevention Center offers, among numerous other services, bullying prevention education, staff training, Dignity Act training, Helpline, Volunteer opportunities and the “Students United for Safer Schools” program (SUSS), a bullying prevention peer education program for schools. CAPS now offers to schools the internationally recognized Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, an evidence-based bullying prevention program proven to reduce bullying behavior. CAPS also offers school professionals teaching tools, conferences and staff and faculty development programs on child abuse, bully prevention, Internet safety and sexual harassment, plus NYS Certification Training.

MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION IN SUFFOLK COUNTY INC.
Call: 631-226-3900
or email: info@mhasuffolk.org

This is the premier resource for finding a mental health treatment provider that is the right fit for your needs. Their resource directory (visit their site) and referral service is vast and comprehensive. Their gentle and non-judgmental approach to all things psychiatric includes: educational conferences, workshops and speakers to Suffolk County residents and professionals on a variety of topics related to mental health. They also sponsor a variety of free support groups for consumers and their families.

SUFFOLK COUNTY DIVISION OF COMMUNITY MENTAL HYGIENE
Call: 631-853-8500
M-F 9-5pm for guidance on counseling and prevention services
School and Community Prevention contact: Gail Feldman at 631-853-8506
or email: gail.feldman@suffolkcountyny.gov

Oversees community funded prevention providers (see list below) that offer, free of charge, to all Suffolk County residents and schools, a wide range of prevention programs including: bullying prevention, drug and alcohol overviews, evidence-based life-skills programs, parent and community trainings and coalition building. All workshops and trainings can be tailored to the needs of the individual audience.   The “CHOICES” Program and the “Be Somebody” and the “I’m Somebody” peer leadership programs are also available to your school.

SUFFOLK COUNTY CONTRACTED PROVIDERS

Below listed agencies offer free-of-charge prevention workshops and training groups to any school in Suffolk County. Counseling services can be covered by insurance/sliding scale fees. Contact information for each Prevention Specialist is listed.

Alternatives Counseling Center
Linda Huber
Lhuber@alternatives-counseling.org
631-283-4440

Horizons Counseling Center
Elaine Economopoulos
elaineE@tosgov.com
631-360-7578

Eastern Suffolk BOCES
Michael Miles
mmiles@esboces.org
631-289-0078

Family Service League
Lisa Kratzke
kratzke@fsl-li.org
631-399-9217

HUGS
Kym Laube
kym@hugsinc.org
631-288-9505

Pederson Krag
Mary Jane Hudson
mhudson@pedersonkrag.org
631-920-8316

Riverhead CAP
Felicia Scocozza
director@riverheadcap.org
631-727-3722
Click here to watch the "Riverhead Peacemakers" video from CAP

Town of Huntington Youth Bureau: Huntington Drug and Alcohol
Annie Guthrie
aguthrie@hda.hybydri.org
631-271-3591

West Islip YES
Melanie Holz
MHolz@yesnews.net
631-348-3513

YMCA Family Services
Michelle Schindler
Michelle.schindler@ymcali.org
631-580-7777

SUFFOLK COUNTY OFFICE OF HEALTH EDUCATION
Call: 631-853-3162
M-F 9am-5pm
or email john.martin@suffolkcountyny.gov

Offers to schools, free of charge, an eight session Peer-Education program entitled “Healthy Communication and Bullying Prevention” for secondary school students. The program, through utilization of improvisation, role plays and group games, teaches participants how to be “Upstanders rather than Bystanders” in their school community and prepares them for presenting in classrooms. Student’s social and emotional coping skills are developed in this training. The Peer Education Program aligns with National Health Education Standards and the NYS Dignity for All Students Act Guidance.

SUFFOLK COUNTY POLICE COMMUNITY RESPONSE BUREAU
Call: 631-852-6109
M-F 8am-4pm

Offers, at no charge, a wide variety of topics for classroom presentations including: Bullying Prevention; Cyber-Law; Distracted Driving; Prescription Drugs to Heroin; Diversity and Acceptance; Tobacco versus Marijuana; Social Host Law; Alcohol and the High School Student.

LONG ISLAND COALITION AGAINST BULLYING (LICAB)
www.licab.org
Call: 516-777-7709
email: help@licab.org
Executive Director: Joseph Salamone

Offers a unique blend of bullying prevention services: Subsidized therapy financially assists families and victims who are in need of third party professional assistance outside of a school environment but are restricted by financial or insurance situations; Youth Leadership Program makes ambassadors in community service of high school volunteers through fund raising and development of leadership and Upstander skills; Smile Packages sent to a bullied individual tailored towards their hobbies, interests, personality, favorite things, in an effort to let them know that they are not alone; School Assistance Programs to create and subsidize anti-bullying programs and assemblies.

LONG ISLAND GAY AND LESBIAN YOUTH (LIGALY)
Bayshore: 631-665-2300
East End: 631-899-4950

Offers numerous services for Long Island’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender youth and their supporters including: school presentations on numerous topics (including tolerance & bullying prevention), support groups, counseling, outreach, volunteer opportunities, testing, workshops, newsletters and more. They provide a safe space for the LGBT youth community ever advocating for equality.

LONG ISLAND PARENT RESOURCE CENTER (LIPRC)
Call: Pamela Mizzi at 631-608-5014
or email pmizzi@NSHS.edu

The LIPRC functions as a centralized clearinghouse of resources for youth, parents, professionals, treatment providers, educators, the media and the general public. They provide this education through a comprehensive continuum of resources, trainings, and community-related services. They serve as a liaison to support coalitions and prevention providers with the integration of prevention science, research and practice.

BIAS HELP
Call: 631-479-6015 or toll free Hotline: 1-877-END-BIAS (1-877-363-2427)

Offers to schools the internationally recognized Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, an evidence-based bullying prevention program proven to reduce bullying behavior. BiasHELP, Inc. is a not-for-profit agency dedicated to prevention of bias crimes, hate-crimes, hate-related harassment, bullying, technobullying/cyberbullying and discrimination. BiasHELP’s programs include prevention education, community and school-based technical assistance and support aggressive public policies that ensure human rights protections and effective media responses to current social issues.

ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY COUNCIL OF SUFFOLK INC. (EOC)
Youth and Adolescent Services Call: 631-447-0698 ext 131
Visit our Facebook page.

EOC offers a large variety of services to Suffolk youth and residents. Numerous programs and topics can be presented for schools and agencies including peer education.

NATIONAL EATING DISORDERS ASSOCIATION (NEDA)
HELPLINE: Call: 1-800-931-2237
Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

NEDA is the national clearinghouse for eating disorder information and body image research. It offers numerous resources including: toolkits, videos, training materials and support. NEDA supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders, and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Be sure to visit their teen activism and confidence building site Proud2bme: An interactive online community created by teens for teens and young adults that promotes healthy attitudes toward weight, food and health.

SUNSHINE PREVENTION CENTER
Call: 631-476-3099
or email Dr. Carol Carter at shine1@optonline.net

Offers a wealth of prevention, community outreach and school training groups particularly in the areas of substance abuse and violence prevention via anger management, teen, social skills and summer programs.

THE GUIDANCE CENTER SERVICES
Call: 631-664-9886
or email Susan Toman at theguidancecenterservicesinc@hotmail.com

Offers North Fork residents a wide array of personalized prevention services including counseling, support, teen empowerment, parenting classes, dances, school programs, the “Lions Quest” program, the “Teen Intervene” Program & coalition building.

Asking Myself Association
Call: 1-631-319-0762

NATIONAL HOTLINES:

NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE: 24/7
Call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

New York State Child Abuse Hotline: 24/7
Call: 1-800-342-3720
If you are deaf or hard of hearing: Call: 1-800-638-5163

National Child Abuse Hotline: 24/7
Call: 1-800-422-4453

National Teen Dating Abuse 24 Hour Helpline:
Call: 1-866-331-9474
or for hearing impaired: TTY: 1-866-331-8453 (7 days/week, 5pm-3am)

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 24/7
Call: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN): 24/7
Call: 1-800-656-4673

EDUCATIONAL SITES:

NEW YORK DIGNITY FOR ALL STUDENTS ACT (NYSED):

New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) seeks to provide New York State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function. It also was amended to include bullying occurring on digital devices such as cell phones and computers.

FEATURES OF THE DIGNITY ACT:

  • PROHIBITS DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT on the basis of real or perceived race, color, body weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sex, sexual orientation, and gender--including gender identity and expression.
  • REQUIRES EVERY PUBLIC SCHOOL to have at least one specially trained staff member called a DIGNITY ACT COORDINATOR (DAC) to take reports and investigate all reports of bullying/aggression that targets you or someone you care about.
  • REQUIRES ALL SCHOOLS TO HAVE A PLAN OF ACTION to handle incidents of aggression that occur at any school related event or on digital devices. Guidance updates on bullying, cyber-bullying and sample school policies and revised codes of conduct related to the Dignity Act, including those that went into effect July, 1, 2013, can be ascertained via the NY State Dept. of Education.

KNOW THE LAWS

Many states have laws that address bullying. The content of each law varies considerably. Click this interactive map from the STOP BULLYING.gov website for information on each state’s bullying and harassment laws.

There is no federal law that specifically applies to bullying. In cases when bullying is based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion, bullying overlaps with harassment and schools are legally obligated to address it. You can read more about when bullying overlaps with harassment and how to report it by clicking on the following links:

U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors six types of health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults, including—Behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence, Sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, Alcohol and other drug use, Tobacco use, Unhealthy dietary behaviors and Inadequate physical activity. Very timely and useful survey data on behaviors of and risks for today’s youth.

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