Archive | May 2013

Legally Confronting Bullying Conduct

asian lawyers

In response to the increasing number of deaths associated with bullying, there have been anti-bullying laws enacted across the country. Forty-four (44) states and the District of Columbia have enacted anti-bullying laws. Seven states have criminal sanctions which attach to bullying. States have created systems to investigate claims of cyber bullying that help police and school officials to better ascertain the circumstances of each occurrence and prosecute or punish the culprits to the fullest extent of the law.

The law enforcement community has responded to this growing phenomenon by seeking to diligently enforce the anti-bullying laws and working with the community to raise awareness about this pressing problem. Additionally, students, parents, educators, administrators, some elected officials and other concerned citizens have been advocating for better laws to address this growing problem. Their collective advocacy efforts have been relatively successful nationwide.

After the death of Tyler Clementi, New Jersey enacted an “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights”. New Jersey’s recently enacted “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights” is intended to eliminate loopholes in the state’s first anti-bullying law, enacted in 2002, that encouraged school districts to set up programs to combat bullying but did not mandate it. The new law requires training for most public school teachers, administrators and other employees on how to spot bullying and mandates that all districts form a school safety team to review complaints. School districts will be graded by the state on their efforts to combat the problem.

Under the Anti Bullying Bill of Rights, administrators who do not investigate reported incidents of bullying will be disciplined, while students who bully could be suspended or expelled. School employees will also be required to report all incidents they learn of, whether they took place in or outside of school. The effective implementation of this law should serve to provide children and youth with a sense of safety and freedom from being intimidated or harassed.

The Obama administration has joined the efforts to combat bullying. His administration is directing resources for the express purpose of reducing bullying in schools and to raising awareness around its ramifications, and, of course, to countering its negative impact. Toward that end, the White House convened a conference on preventing bullying, on Thursday, March 11, 2011. The Obama administration launched of a new website, http://www.stopbullying.gov, devoted to bullying prevention. There are other resources available to combat bullying including but not limited to: the Cyberbullying Research Center website.

The Cyberbullying Research Center website provides information about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of cyber bullying among adolescents. The Center’s overarching goal is to bring sound research about cyber bullying to the forefront; and serve as a clearinghouse of information concerning the use and misuse technology by adolescents. (Cyberbullying Research Center).

For further information on cyber bulling, there are several websites you can visit including but not limited: http://www.fightcrime.org; http://www.bullypolice.org; http://www.healthline.com; http://www.cyberbullying.us; http://www.stopbullying.org; http://www.stopbullying.gov; http://www.isafe.org ; and others.

Source(s): §2 – C.18A:37-13.1 §1 – C.18A:37-13.2 §16 – C.18A:37-15.3 §§17; http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/AL10/122_.PDF. Fight Crime.org; Bully Police USA, Inc.; Healthline.com; Politics Daily; MyFoxPhilly.com;NJ.com; Cyber Research Center; Stop Bullying, Inc.; i-Safe, Inc.; “NJ Assembly, Senate Passes “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights’ in Wake of Tyler Clementi’s Death” November 22, 2010, NJ.com; “Rutgers Student Tyler Clementi Commits Suicide After Video Voyeurism”, October 5, 2010, Star Ledger.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Working to Eradicate Homelessness

Soup Kitchen

Because of the growing prevalence of homelessness in our nation, this post highlights the very necessary work undertaken by Volunteers of America to eradicate homelessness for individuals and families nation wide.

An important component of their work is working with the individual or family until they have returned to self-sufficiency. Volunteers of America services for the homeless or persons at risk of homelessness include but are not limited: supportive services, emergency shelter, outreach, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing.

For further information about the services offered by Volunteers of America nation-wide, visit their website at http://voa.org/Get-Help/National-Network-of-Services/Homelessness.aspx.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Memorial Day 2013

soldiers

Each year in the month of May, on Memorial Day, we honor the lives of fallen U.S. soldiers. Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of the month of May which commemorates U.S. soldiers who died while in military service. Initially, Memorial Day was enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War. After World War I, the decision was made that the holiday would honor Americans who have died in all wars. This year, Memorial Day is celebrated on Monday, May 27, 2013.

As was aptly stated in the Washington Post, “…with a spring that brought news of international conflict, ongoing U.S. wars and the death of Osama bin Laden, the road to Memorial Day seems particularly hard-fought.” Research indicates that the lives of over four thousand lives US service persons have been lost as result of Operation Iraq Freedom and over sixteen hundred lives related to Operation Enduring Freedom.

To get a better picture of the lives lost in Operation Iraq Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, you can visit the Washington Post website. The portion of Washington Post website entitled “fallen” seeks to provide the publication’s readers with knowledge about the fallen soldiers such as their age, year of death, hometown, and military branch.

Sources: Washington Post. http://www.memorialday2011.org. http://www.apples4teacher.com. washingtonpost.com/fallen/.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Improving Access to Affordable Housing for Veterans soldiers

Homeless

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 62,619 veterans are homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness.

About 1.4 million other veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing. Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Upendra J. Chivukula (D-Middlesex/Somerset) and Vincent Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson) was signed into law on Monday that makes affordable housing more accessible to New Jersey veterans.

The new law (S-829/A-1744) allows municipalities to enter into agreements with developers to provide affordable housing occupancy preferences of up to 50 percent of the affordable units in a particular project for low to moderate income veterans who served in time of war or other emergency.

Current New Jersey law does not extend affordable housing preferences to low to moderate income veterans. Under the bill, any agreement to provide affordable housing preferences for veterans will not affect a municipality’s ability to get credit for the unit from COAH. As of December 2011, nearly one in seven homeless adults are veterans, according to the Center for American Progress.

Source: Politicker New Jersey, Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress; Housing and Urban Development, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress: Veterans and Homelessness; Libby Perl; February 2012, Homeless Incidence and Risk Factors for Becoming Homeless in Veterans; VA Office of Inspector General; May 2012, The 2012 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, Volume 1 of the 2012 Point-in-Time Annual Homeless Assessment Report; Housing and Urban Development

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Urge Your Members of Congress to Support Background Checks

little girl handing over phone

Gun violence in America has reached epidemic proportions. The evening news is inundated with tragic stories of children, youth, and adults that have lost their lives to gun violence across our nation. Whether on the streets of Baltimore or in the privacy of their homes, gun violence has taken the lives of far too many children, youth, and adults in our cities.

Currently, felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill and even wanted terrorists – in most states can visit a gun show or a website today and buy weapons from unlicensed sellers, no questions asked. Legitimate gun stores already require background checks, which do not violate the Second Amendment. Every day, 282 Americans are shot with a gun – including 50 children. Countless lives could be saved if all gun sellers were required by law to conduct background checks on every person seeking to purchase a gun prior to sale.

In the week following the Newtown massacre, there were at least a dozen gun homicides in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis alone. In a period of highly publicized mass shootings, inner-city neighborhoods that are plagued by gun violence have continued to be neglected and ignored. According to the Centers for Disease Control, large metropolitan areas account for more than two-thirds of deaths by gun violence each year, with inner cities most affected.

The majority of the victims are young, ranging in age from their early teens to mid-20s, and are black. The leading cause of death among Black teens ages 15 to 19 in 2008 and 2009 was gun homicide. For White teens 15 to 19 it was motor vehicle accidents followed by gun homicide in 2008 and gun suicide in 2009. The most recent analysis of data from twenty-three (23) industrialized nations shows that eighty-seven (87) percent of the children under age fifteen (15) killed by guns in these nations lived in the United States.

With that said, Congress has no excuse for not acting. Please ask your members of Congress to support gun safety legislation that will save the lives of countless children, youth, and adults. In partnership with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, advocacy organizations are working to pass a comprehensive gun violence prevention package with a background check provision.

Help keep the pressure on our Senators to reconsider critical gun safety legislation. Recently, in the House of Representatives legislation was recently introduced to expand background checks.

The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2013 (H.R. 1565),
This piece of legislation introduced by Congressmen Peter King (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), mirrors the bipartisan Manchin/Toomey compromise background check measure that was narrowly defeated in the Senate last month. While the Senate bill fell five (5) votes short of passage last month due to a procedural hurdle, Senators promise to have another vote soon. With that said, if we hope to have gun safety legislation this year, it is time to work with our House of Representatives members.

Due to loopholes in current law, people are easily able to obtain firearms through private sales and transfers, even though they should be prohibited from doing so under federal law. Research indicates that in excess of six million guns are transferred each year through private transfer. When there is a sale of private guns or there are transfers of weapons, these transactions are not subject to background checks.

The King/Thompson bill would save countless lives each year by helping to keep guns out of the hands of the violent people. Currently, this important piece of legislation has over 160 co-sponsors. This potentially lifesaving legislation needs more support in Congress. With that said, we need to demand prompt action from Congress on the King/Thompson bill. Toward that goal, I am asking that you take at least one of the following action steps:

1. Call your Congress person.
1. Email your Congress person.
2. Post a message on your Facebook Page
3. Tweet
4. Sign the Petition circulating on the Internet
For more information, fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates visit http://www.demandaction.org.

Source: NCADV Action Alert, May 17, 2013.

Erasing Hate: The Byron Widner Story

holding hands around globeRedemption Song

Former skinhead, Byron Widner, illustrated his hate through a series of derogatory tattoos all over his body. However, with the assistance of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), he was able to “leave the white power movement” and get rid of his inked imprints as said by the SPLC. The Southern Poverty Law Center monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout theUnited States as well as exposes their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media, and the public.

MSNBC ran a documentary entitled “Erasing Hate” which detailed Byron Widner’s road to redemption. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, this film provides viewers with an account of “his life within the white power movement, the decision that led him and his wife to leave it, and the procedures he received [ to remove the hate speech from his body].”

Research indicates that thousands of people every year are victims of hate crime. For every reported case of hate violence, there are countless unreported incidents of hate based violence. The hate crime phenomenon presents complex and agonizing problems to communities nationwide. The problem has become more visible as federal and state officials increasingly track hate violence.

American communities have learned that failure to address bias crimes can cause an isolated incident to result in widespread tension. Hate crimes are unique because they have a special emotional and physical impact that extends beyond the original victim. Bias crimes intimidate others in the victim’s community, causing them to feel isolated, vulnerable, and unprotected by the legal system. By making members of a specific group fearful, angry and suspicious, these crimes polarize cities and damage the very fabric of our society.

While hate violence makes headlines, the positive actions of people across the country are creating a different story. These people include but are not limited to a movement called Not In Our Town. Like other groups battling hate based violence, Not In Our Town highlights communities working together to stop hate. Not In Our Town videos and broadcasts highlight and celebrate people who have developed creative anti-bias programs and responses. The stories chronicled by Not In Our Town have served to motivate many others to develop their own innovative initiatives which overpower the hateful actions and voices in their communities.

The non-profit sector offers information, education, and activism against hate violence. This list contains a few of the organizations that offer resources or help communities respond to hate activities. Many of the national organizations have local chapters. A brief list of national organizations battling hate based include but is not limited to:

National Organizations

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Web: http://www.adc.org
Combats media stereotyping, defamation, and discrimination against Americans of Arab descent through legal action and education.

American Jewish Committee
Web: http://ajc.org
Published, What to Do When the Militia Comes to Town

Anti-Defamation League
Web: http://www.adl.org
Combats anti-semitism and racial supremacist ideology, published Hate Crimes Laws: A Comprehensive Guide.

Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund
Community education, legal counseling and advocacy on behalf of victims of anti-Asian violence.

Center For Democratic Renewal
Web: http://www.thecdr.org
Published When Hate Groups Come to Town: A Handbook of Effective Community Responses.

Center for New Community
Web: http://www.newcomm.org
Publishes special reports on anti-immigrant groups.

Choosing to Participate
Web: http://www.facing.org/
Traveling exhibition featuring events in time when individuals and communities made decisions affecting the course of history.

Connect America
Points of Light Foundation
Web: http://www.pointsoflight.org/sponsors/connectamerica.cfm
Sponsors national “Join Hands Day”

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Web: http://www.cair-net.org
Published, Law Enforcement Official’s Guide to the Muslim Community.

NAACP
Web: http://www.naacp.org
Combats racisms and fights for civil rights.

National Council of Churches
Web: http://www.ncccusa.org
Organized nationally to rebuild burnt churches in 1996.

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
Web: http://www.thetaskforce.org
Fights hate crime; monitors attacks on civil liberties.

The National Urban League
Web: http://www.nul.org
Increasing civil rights, educational and financial opportunities for African Americans through programs and research.

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
Web: http://www.pflag.org
Support for families of Gays and Lesbians with hundreds of local chapters.

Political Research Associates
Web: http://www.publiceye.org/
Think-tank monitoring the full spectrum of hate organizations.

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Web: http://www.saldef.org/default.aspx?zone=misc.faq
Legal assistance and educational outreach for Sikh Americans. Civil rights advocacy.

Southern Poverty Law Center
Web: http://www.splcenter.org
Reports on hate crime and advances the legal rights of victims of injustice. Home of Klanwatch.)

StudyCirclesResourceCenter
Web: http://www.studycircles.org
Helps communities and organizations begin small democratic, discussion groups that can make significant progress on difficult issues including race.)

100 Black Men of America
Web: http://www.100blackmen.org
Helps young African Americans to overcome financial and cultural obstacles through mentoring, anti-violence, education and economic development programs.

Source(s): Southern Poverty Law Center; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; American Jewish Committee; Anti-Defamation League; Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund; Center For Democratic Renewal; Not In Our Town; Center for New Community; Choosing to Participate; Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); NAACP; National Gay & Lesbian Task Force; The National Urban League; Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Study Circles Resource Center; 100 Black Men of America.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

International Nurses Day

Doctor with Patient

Each year, on May 12th, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, nurses are celebrated on International Nurses Day. This day was established to recognize the contribution nurses make to the health and well-being of our society. Inspired by nurses like Florence Nightingale and Elizabeth Fry, the International Council of Nurses started this annual event forty-six (46) years ago. Every year, there is a different theme for the day.

On International Nurses Day, we honor the life-saving abilities of nurses around the world. Whether by putting you at ease while you wait for your doctor or taking your health history, the variety of critical health related services nurses provide is seemingly endless. Every day, nurses take care of countless patients. Each May 12th, we can demonstrate our support and appreciation for nurses world-wide by acknowledging their important work.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Source(s): International Council of Nurses.