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Week of 1/3/11: Safe schools snippets

Sex offender in Northglenn standoff lived legally near school

KDVR Fox 31 reports that neighbors of a sex offender who shot himself during a standoff with Northglenn police Monday night question why he was allowed to live just a few doors down from a middle school. Matthew Anderson, 40, was arrested in June 2006, after talking online to a police officer he thought was a girl under 15.

Safe teen driving initiative nets prize for Dakota Ridge High School

Three high schools that participated in the Teen Safe Driver Pledge program took home the grand prizes of $15,000. Helias High School in Jefferson City, Mo., Dakota Ridge High School in Littleton, Colo., and Ironwood High School in Glendale, Ariz., each logged more participants in the months-long competition than other schools in their respective size-based tiers. More than 375 high schools throughout the country participated in Teen Safe Driver Pledge, an online driver safety program that helps parents and teenage drivers discuss safe driving expectations. The program instilled individuals with important driving habits and provided drawings for individual prizes. Each school earned more than $900 for taking part in the program, with the potential of earning the grand prizes.

Click here for information on the program, run by American Family Insurance.

Christie signs tougher law on bullying in schools

The New York Times reports on what New Jersey’s doing to crack down on bullying in schools. New Jersey on Thursday enacted the nation’s toughest law against bullying and harassment in schools, three and a half months after the suicide of a Rutgers University student drew national attention to the issue.

Resource officers were off when Aurora Central student was shot

The Denver Post reports that two school resource officers assigned to Aurora Central High School were not present the day a student was shot outside the school. Aurora police spokesman Bob Friel, in a written statement, confirmed that an SRO was not present Dec. 6, when Karina Vargas, 17, was shot — the innocent victim of a gang-related shooting.

Facebook removes Overland’s ‘Burn book’ page

9News reports that a web page started by students to ridicule others at Overland High School has been removed from Facebook.

Boulder Valley charging school volunteers for background checks

The Daily Camera reports that one year after stiffening its standards for school volunteers, the Boulder Valley School District now is requiring the volunteers who work most closely with children to pay for their own background checks.

Nearly all volunteers who interact with students – and every person who spends time alone with the kids – must agree to a criminal background check before they can start. Starting in January, volunteers also must pay a $20 fee for that background check.

Cyberbullying could cost you

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports that students caught sending cyberbullying messages or sexting can be fined up to $750 by the Cheyenne Police Department.

 The fines, which start at $200, are a more extreme step to encourage students and adults to watch their texting or online behavior, according to Cheyenne Police school safety officer Colby White.

People underestimate social suffering due to ’empathy gap’

The PR Newswire runs a story indicating that, according to a new study from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, people fail to understand the consequences of social trauma felt by victims of bullying, teasing, and ostracism. This “empathy gap” can be devastating because it means victims often do not get the support, intervention or advocacy they need.

Last year, stories of teen bullying brought to life the heartbreaking consequences of young lives cut short by ruthless and unchecked behavior. While recent media coverage of these violent acts has increased national awareness of bullying’s deadly consequences, it has done little to stop it from happening.

No easy fix found for bullying

The Boston Globe runs the sixth story in a series on bullying about why it’s so hard to stop it.

Seven years ago, Washington schools were under state mandate to take action against bullying. Among the most touted and highly regarded antibullying programs was a Norwegian one that had reduced bullying by half in dozens of schools in that country. With great enthusiasm, seven Seattle middle schools adopted it.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.