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New Jersey Schools Hold Second Annual ‘Week Of Respect’ To Combat Bullying

Advocate: 'It's Making A Big Difference In Kids' Lives'
High school students (file/credit: CBS 2)

High school students (file/credit: CBS 2)

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TEANECK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey schools have begun the second annual “Week Of Respect,” where students are taught how to prevent harassment, intimidation and bullying.

The state’s toughest in the nation anti-bullying law took effect a year ago in response to the 2010 suicide of Tyler Clementi, a gay Rutgers student who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, used a webcam to spy on his sexual encounter with another man.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports

“I think we’re all working our way through the implementation and we’re having great success in doing that,” New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond on Monday.

At Teaneck’s Thomas Jefferson Middle School, the students took a pledge to refrain from bullying their fellow classmates.

When teachers asked the students if they or a friend had ever been bullied, almost all of them raised their hands, Diamond reported.

“And I think it might be because we’ve educated, we’ve talked about it more,” said Teaneck Superintendent of Schools Barbara Pinsak. “We’re dealing with it, we’re taking the law as the spirit of the law and the intent of the law and doing the best we can to educate the kids and the parents.”

Milo Casereno, 11, described his experience being bullied.

“There was an incident on the bus,” Casereno told Diamond. “They were calling me gay.”

Steven Goldstein with the gay rights group Garden State Equality helped draft the anti-bullying law last year.

“An overwhelming number of schools across New Jersey are complying and it’s making a big difference in kids’ lives,” Goldstein told Diamond. “It’s a common purpose battle. All of us — students, parents, teachers and others who care — have to fight this fight together.”

Ravi was convicted in March on 15 criminal counts, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation.

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