Westchester D.A. Hosts Anti-Bullying Conference

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (CBS 2) — A packed, full-day conference in Tarrytown Thursday took aim at a singular issue: bullying.

Teachers, school psychologists and guidance counselors are trying to toughen up the response to bullying among students. It’s become a serious problem for children, and it’s more prevalent in schools, reports CBS 2’s Lou Young.

Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore, whose office hosted the first-ever regional bullying conference, said the law must be used as an efficient deterrent, and a weapon against childhood bullying.

Part of the reason that the bullying problem has gotten so bad is that students just aren’t reporting the incidents. Why? Just ask any student.

“If you’re sort of scared of that bully and he knows that you did it, then he’ll probably go after you next,” sixth grade student Hunter Martin said. “Or you’re built up inside and you’re too nervous, and you just don’t want to tell anyone.”

District Attorney DiFiore told the students and educators in attendance in Tarrytown that both the bully and victim are better off if law enforcement is called early.

“Of course people are reluctant to call the police on children, and I can understand that, but what I’m trying to do is raise people’s confidence level,” DiFiore said. “You should pick the telephone and call and let the experts be the judge of that.”

The problem is complicated by the fact that many bullies are bright, otherwise attractive kids, and their victims are often the outcasts.

“They’ve just been awkward and can’t really help it,” eighth grader Devon Lawrence said. “They get picked on.”

“There’s been kids who’ve gotten bullied by other kids, like in fights,” seventh grade student Dawson Lawrence said. “Some people [watch], some people go away. [You should] go tell a teacher.”

Often, though, even the adults are no help.

“Sometimes what happens is they’ll just try to minimize things,” guidance counselor JoAnn Silverman said. “In some cases, kids feel that the way they’re thinking might be a little exaggerated.”

D.A. Difiore added parents were also accountable for a young bully’s actions. “Certainly parents are responsible for educating their children and counseling their children to grow and develop into cooperative and responsible members of a broader community,” she said.

Not all bullying escalates to criminal behavior, but psychologists say all bullying is negative – it can lead to learning problems for the victims, and behavior problems – and even a drift into criminality – for the bullies themselves.

Prosecutors have a variety of tools for dealing with bullying cases, including youth courts, counseling and reparations to victims.

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  • john waverly

    Bullying is endemic to our economic sytem in myriad ways. The most deleterious forms are when they are covert or not readily apparent.

    The dynamics of “getting ahead” including parents anxiously attempting to ready their young children to compete and do better than their peers, to getting ready for competing for top notch colleges in order to garner “superior jobs” in order to earn a better income so one can have things that inform not only oneself but others that you are a superior person and the other is “less than.”

    Intimidation that is overt and clearly mean and aggressive is in a very real sense easier to deal with, as it is seen for what it is. IIt can and is immediately hurtful and painful but if open and discussed outloud can be addressed appropriately and hopefully brought to a healthy resolution.

    The problem is it is too often kept silent out of shame or fear- Part of the impetus for the silence has to do with the dynamics mentioned above.

    People are “trained to assume ” I am strong and must get ahead, it is expected of me to differentiate myself from others and bring my self-esteem up and in the process of competing while I bring others down.’

    One must look seriously at factors that are difficult to analyse- Things that are so endemic to one’s homeostatis, sense of self that without these somewhat unconscious accepted “norms,” one will feel at a loss.

    Dealing with the loss of things that have semed “good and healthy” is asking way too much for most average people- who believe they must compete.

    Capitalism and private property involve bullying but in a subtle deleterious form.

    Private property must be dismantled. or “bullying” will always be encouraged in this society.

  • Cheryl

    I attended this conference & was very impressed. I took away a lot of information from it. I wanted to take all of the workshops it was so difficult to pick just one. I have always been a supporter of D.A. Difiore but now even more so, thank you for bringing this conference to us – please bring us more conferences & soon!!! :)

    • Madison Reyes

      Where can I find out about the workshops? I am a Life Coach and I want to work with Bullied Youth.

      • Cheryl

        I would contact Student Assistance Services Corporation @ 914-332-1300

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