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This week’s safe schools snippets

Funeral for gay NY teen who blogged about bullying

AMHERST, N.Y. — Funeral services are set for a 14-year-old New York boy who killed himself after blogging about being bullied because of his sexuality. Read more in the Wall Street Journal.

Must Colo. schools tell parents about employee arrests?

A judge’s decision is the next step in the legal fight between the Colorado Education Association and the State Board of Education over the state regulation requiring school districts notify parents when employees are arrested for certain crimes.

Chief Denver District Judge Robert Hyatt heard four hours of legal arguments and testimony Friday before telling lawyers, “I will provide you with a written order” on whether he’ll issue an injunction to put the rule on ice pending further review. Read more in Education News Colorado.

How to spy on your kids online

(CBS) – According to the GFI Software 2011 Parent-Teen Internet Safety Report, which looked at teen Internet use from the perspective of both parents and teens, 36 percent of parents use web monitoring software or a web filter to keep tabs on their children’s activities online. Are you one of them? Check out this CBS News report. And share your opinions by commenting on this post.

Shrink Rap: Protecting your child from bullying

Bullying is a problem that affects children around the world. It is typically defined as ongoing and repeated negative behavior toward another, usually someone who is more vulnerable emotionally and/or physically. Bullying can be verbal or nonverbal communication, physical contact, social exclusion, or noncompliance with another’s wishes. Read more from this mental health expert in the Boulder Daily Camera.

Shakespeare Festival uses ‘Twelfth Night’ to combat bullying

FIRESTONE – Actors from the Colorado Shakespeare Festival are using the Bard’s timeless words to illustrate to students the perils of bullying.

A troupe of three professional actors is touring 32 elementary, middle and high schools on the Front Range, including several in the St. Vrain Valley School District, and performing a 50-minute version of William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” before leading bully-prevention workshops. Read more about it in the Daily Camera. (Editor’s note: This program came to my daughter’s school, and she really enjoyed it and learned something, too).

Fort Collins high school expands Rachel’s Challenge

Fossil Ridge High School hopes to create a more sustainable chain reaction of kindness and compassion within their community by expanding the Rachel’s Challenge program to four years for students.

“People will tell you that it’s normal for kids to be bullied in high school,” said Brad Nye, FRHS assistant principal. “We’re trying to redefine what normal is at Fossil Ridge by implementing Rachel’s Challenge deeply into our culture.”

The Rachel’s Challenge organization and programs were created in memory of Rachel Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine High School tragedy on April 20, 1999.  In her diary, Rachel left behind a simple challenge for people to “treat others with kindness and compassion; you may change the world you live in.”

For the past two years, FRHS students have attended a Rachel’s Challenge assembly, listening to a message about kindness and compassion. Fossil recently decided to implement a new four-year Rachel’s Challenge program that covers the entire high school career of every student. Each year, students experience a difference aspect of Rachel’s Challenge, from personal challenges issued in 9th grade to senior year service projects that make a difference in their community.

FRHS sophomores recently participated in day-long “chain reaction” activities that were fun, engaging and often emotional, focusing on how they have been treated and how they have treated others.

“The program is an anti-bullying program, but instead of focusing on the anti- or the negative, we’re focusing on the positive of treating people with kindness and compassion,” Nye said. “The chain reaction day is a full day of participating and diving into core issues. The goal is to equip all of us with the ability to create a chain reaction of kindness and compassion.”

Colleen Emery, parent of three Fossil students, believes the Rachel’s Challenge program will make students more aware of bullying and accepting of others “Once we change the hearts of our teenagers that’s when we’re going to see change,” she said. “With greater awareness comes greater change.”

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.