The Union County Human Relations Commission began work shortly after the Columbine High School tragedy in early 1999, where Commissioners began to take a more serious look at bullying and the hate and bias that influences it. In more recent times, CyberBullying has become a troublesome issue as well, as students use the Internet to harass and attack others in their age group.
The Commission has teamed up with the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and the Union County Superintendent of Schools to help increase awareness of bullying and to intervene when it occurs. The efforts that the Commission has made includes Train the Trainers workshops for law enforcement and teachers as well as other workshops, involving the New Jersey Task Force for Bullying and CyberBullying Awareness and Prevention, as well as creating educational brochures in both English and Spanish for students and parents.
The biggest step thus far was New Jersey’s passage of the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Student’s Bill of Rights, which passed in January 2011 by Governor Chris Christie and is the nation’s strongest anti-bully legislation. For parents and students who want to learn more about preventing bullying and how to stop it, they can visit http://www.stopbullyingnow.com/index.htm, which is run by expert Stan Davis, or http://ucnj.org/government/prosecutor/union-county-human-relations-commission/anti-bullying-intimidation-harrassment/, or http://www.njbullying.org/.
Parents and community members who wish to combat bullying in schools can read a report that was created by then-Governor Corzine in 2008 and published in late 2009 called “There’s No Time to Lose: An Urgent Call for Legal Reform and Effective Practices To Combat Bullying in New Jersey Schools”. The Union County Human Relations Commission also offers an informative DVD that can be sent to parents, teachers, students, and anyone interested in learning how to prevent bullying, that gives tips on what to do and who to speak to if being bullied.
According to New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention’s website (at http://www.njbullying.org/), due to the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, more bullying incidents have been reported in schools around New Jersey this year. According to Dr. Michael Greene, an expert on violence and its assessment, 15 New Jersey school districts reported zero instances of bullying, while 13 reported only one incidence.
With all of these resources at the disposal of teachers, parents, and students, bullying in Union County and Elizabeth should be expected to decrease as well, thanks to the hard work done by the union County Prosecutor’s Office, the Union County Superintendent of Schools, the Union County Human Relations Commission, and interested residents around the area.