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Posts from the ‘Blog Posts’ Category


Bullying Barometer

Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting sections of my presentation “Bully Barometer: A Resource for Stormy Schools.” Consider this presentation a Bullying 101, an orientation to many of the fundamental issues of bullying.

School Climate

“I am so angry; I need to cool off!”

“He is icy today! It’s not like him to be so impersonal.”

These sayings are commonly used in everyday conversation. Interestingly, they both speak about emotions as if they had a temperature. Metaphors that relate emotions to temperature typically associate anger with heat and indifference with coldness. In the same way, researchers compare the psychological environment of a community to temperature. For instance, communities that are hostile are “hot” and communities that are uncaring are “cold.”

The barometer graphic above provides an illustration for a possible school climate. It is very important to understand that school climates are measurable. Schools are often encouraged to make data-based decisions concerning academics, (e.g. using standardized test results to tailor curricular content and address gaps in knowledge), and the same idea should be applied to discipline and school climate. Effective school staffs must both formally and informally measure their school climate, adjusting the temperature as needed.

Defining Bullying

So, what behavior, precisely, constitutes bullying? Dan Olweus, an international researcher and expert on the subject, uses this definition for his studies:

“A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself.”

To break this down, acts of bullying are unrelenting, unwanted, and the parties are unequal.

The common denominator in these definitions is individuals abusing their influence and leveraging it to make themselves more powerful. Notably, bullies are not all soulless monsters; they are merely human beings attempting to maximize their own statuses.

There are a myriad of cultural and environmental factors that can lead individuals to exploit their power. Many of these factors are incredibly widespread across communities, but that does not mean they cannot be countered or that they should remain unaddressed. Especially in a school setting, students’ ability to manage their relationships responsibly is second in importance only to the attainment of academic knowledge.

Next week

What is the difference between bullying, discrimination, and harassment?


What song empowers you to stand up to bullying?

By Justin Gilmore

The song I play when I turn on my iPod often depends on my mood. The music can help me escape from life, but more and more often I need some inspiration — a song that reminds me of a core value that I strongly believe in.

If we are serious about making West Virginia bully free, I think we need a soundtrack that empowers us to make change. Every Wednesday, I hope to post a song that has a good message and will provide some midweek inspiration! Send your suggestions to

Thinking about all the different songs I wanted to feature here was difficult, but I knew instantly which song I wanted to post first: “Children Will Listen,” sung by Bernadette Peters. This song comes from the musical “Into the Woods” a Stephen Sondheim work. (Please note that the musical, like all Sondheim works, is not suitable for all audiences, but this song is definitely appropriate!)

Peters’ character in the musical tells a new father of the importance of avoiding all the mistakes he has made in his life. She reminds him that children may not do what their parents say, but they will learn by example. Anyone who has been in a teaching / parenting / babysitting role over a younger person knows this to be true.


National Government Taking Initiatives To Promote Safer Schools

Isn’t it time we do the same?
Education Department Holds First Ever LGBT Youth Summit Aimed at Safer Schools


Do gay kids get bullied?

Although LGBT students are often victims of schoolyard harassment, some West Virginia lawmakers don’t think that gay kids get bullied in school. Read more »


WV Bully-Free in Charleston Gazette: “W.Va. campaign targets anti-gay bullying”

Fairness WV’s program director, Bradley Milam, was recently interviewed for a Charleston Gazette article on WV Bully-Free!

The article, dated August 7, 2011, outlined WV Bully-Free’s efforts to educate the public and policymakers about more effective anti-bullying policies. “It is a campaign that will show the public as well as policymakers that we need to have a much more effective policy here,” Bradley said.

It cited data from GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate Survey, which showed that nearly nine in 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students had experienced harassment at school within the previous year, and about two-thirds felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation.

The article also highlighted stories from WV Bully-Free’s video project from former WV high school students who experienced bullying and harassment because of their sexual orientation.

Read the Gazette article here.