60% of middle school students say that they have been bullied while 16% of staff believe that students are bullied. • 160,000 students stay home from school every day due to bullying. • A bully is 6 times more likely to be incarcerated by the age of 24. • A bully is 5 times more likely to have a serious criminal record when he grows up. • 20% of high school students say they have seriously considered suicide within the last 12 months. • In schools where there are bullying programs, bullying is reduced by 50% • Source. Bullying, Bullying in Schools by James Burns, 3/2011 Facts
Light of our Lives His sister’s mentor Daniel turns 3! Preparing Christmas cookies Fun camping Little Scout
Incidents of bullying begin. • Parents have several meetings, emails, phone calls with school officials. • Daniel himself reports to school officials. • Bullying intensifies. • Daniel confides that he’s now being called a “snitch”, “loser”, “you’d be better off dead”. • Begs us not to complain to school anymore. • We do anyway, without his knowledge. “It will be taken care of.” Middle School
Love of Sailing Chargers Birthday Party Enjoying Hawaii Absorbing wonders of Italy Relaxing in Cancun Skiing in Mammoth Taking the helm in Toronto
Proud of my young man TaekwonDo Black Belt Disney Cruise Enjoying Puerto Vallarta Confirmation in Christ Caught a big one!
Bullying continues non stop. Verbal as well as physical. He begins getting thrown into trash cans. • Daniel stops confiding in parents. • Begins to show mild signs of depression. • Parents have suspicions and called the school officials. “I think he’s being bullied.” • School administrators promise to keep an eye on things. • Still active in sports and social events. • Good core group of friends, no drugs, alcohol, good grades. High School
Active, Strong, martial arts black belt, honor roll student, boy scout, above all, a peace activist.
Daniel tells us he is having thoughts of suicide. Breaks into tears. “Mom, I don’t want to die.” • We are shocked. • Emergency room doctors perform full psychiatric evaluation. • “Nothing to worry about. Only ideations.” • At his request, Daniel begins to see a therapist regularly. We research the best experts available. His Final Year
Mom’s written intake notes to therapist: “Daniel entered Middle School and was mercilessly picked on. Harassed on playground. Turned kids in to school administration and then was ostracized. Regrets having turned them in. Says he has become known as a snitch.” • Email Daniel sent to his therapist: “School is a war zone. Kill or be killed. Make fun of or be made fun of. People talk crap to me and mess with me because they know I won’t do anything about it. I would if I could but I can’t.” • Kids talk that way; he has too much going for him. • Therapists look to family for source of issues. Therapists Missed Signs
No One Got It • After his death, therapist writes in final notes that Daniel did share with him a history of being bullied. • Same doctor that Daniel wrote the emails to months before he died stating “People talk crap to me all the time and I don’t know what to do to stop it. I am a failure. School is a war zone. Kill or be killed. I should just end my life now.” • Yet, during legal proceedings, therapists stated that they were not told about the bullying. • They just missed it.
Last week of his life, bullying escalated. Teacher sent one bully to the principal’s office. Bully’s parents notified. Daniel’s parents were not. • Friday morning, a final altercation. Daniel finally throws his first punch. • He ends his life within hours of that altercation. • Was used against him after his death. The school officials pointed out, “Your son pulled the first punch.” • How do we define “first”? AtSchool
He was getting picked on at school…some kid threatened to beat him up. And yes, I went to school with this kid. • I went to middle school with him and kids did pick on him and I was always nice to him. I feel bad I couldn’t have tried and helped him hang out or something. • That day of Daniel’s death saddens me. What makes it worse is that I have to see the people who put him over the edge every day. Examples of Blogs after Daniel’s death: The kids always know…
Hours After His Death • Shortly after his death, kids began coming to our house to tell us he had been being bullied. They told us a bullying investigation had been started at the school. • Friends stated Daniel was picked on consistently, since Middle School and into High School. Some kids had reported it to the teachers but nothing changed. • Friends stated Daniel was picked on because he never fought back. He was too nice. Daniel would try to befriend the bullies but it never worked.
Bullying is not a class issue. Affects kids regardless of race, color, creed, national origin or sexual orientation. • Experts tell us it is the sensitive kids who get singled out for bullying; the easy targets.* • Daniel was an easy target. He didn’t believe in violence. The bullies knew he wouldn’t strike back. • Bullying is insidious. Verbal attacks can be much more damaging than physical attacks. It wears the victim down slowly to the point of no return. • Today, children do not have the same protection on school grounds as adults do in the workplace. • School resources are scarce. Many schools do not have anti-bullying programs in place. Source: Dr. Mark Dombeck, The Long Term Effects of Bullying Things We’ve Learned
Studies prove that repeated bullying results in Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD). • Resulting symptoms include depression, anxiety, lack of self esteem, loss of sleep, fatigue, feelings of detachment, fear, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and acts – all of Daniel’s symptoms. • The bullied person often thinks they are going mad. They are not: PTSD is a psychiatric injury; it is not a mental illness. Bullying toughens you up, right? Not hardly…
The injured person experiencing PTSD cannot bring themselves to believe that the bully cannot and will not see the effect their behavior is having; they cling naively to the mistaken belief that the bully will recognize their wrong doing and apologize. • The injured person is often articulate but prevented from articulation from being traumatized. This is one reason why kids “don’t tell, or don’t want to tell.” • So bullying is the perfect crime. The victim doesn’t want to tell. Source: Bully Online: Stress Injury to Trauma, PTSD Affects Emotionally Intelligent Children Most
Psychological issues caused by the bullying is actually used as a defense by the perpetrators. • While it is proven that bullying leads to depression and self-loathing, linking the psychological damage to the bullying post-mortem is almost an impossibility. • We were warned that attorneys would look for anything in our family unit to blame the suicide on, (i.e. prior marriages, alcohol, prescription drugs, history of depression, etc.) Our lives would be ripped open. Expenses would be driven up to make getting all the way to trial too high a risk for family. • The few cases even brought to court often are dismissed due to lack of evidence. At best, settle out of court for very little damages. Difficulties pursuing A Legal Case
To hold bullies legally accountable, you need to prove that your child was bullied. • To hold schools legally accountable, you need to meet three benchmarks: • Your child was bullied. • Teachers knew about the bullying. • Teachers did not do “enough” to address the bullying. Last two are difficult to prove with the third being very subjective. Easily defended by attorneys. Legal case
Respond to what their customers want. • Parents demand academic excellence but not moral or emotional intelligence. • Unless required by law, schools apply very limited resources the way their customer base demands. • Schools know bullying lawsuits are rarely successful. Yet they have bullies’ families threatening to sue them if they take action against their child. • Squeakiest wheel gets the grease. Schools are a business
It is impossible to attempt to profile which kids are at risk. • Daniel did not fall into any of the high risk categories. • One child’s death affects an entire community permanently. • No one is immune…no one escapes. We are all at risk
Therapists, Schools, Parents, Kids, Legal System, Legislation • Currently, no required professional training for psychologists in the assessment and identification of intervention strategies for bullying among children. • No required training or coursework for educators on the topic of bullying. • No required anti-bullying programs for schools (only encouraged.) • Definition of bullying – let’s make it same as harassment definition for adults in the workplace. • Parents – let’s teach our children emotional intelligence. It starts at home. Societal Change Needed
After Daniel’s death, his friends began their own anti-bullying club called Cool 2 Be Kind (C2BK) at San Clemente High School. • Offers peer to peer support, offers teens safe havens to eat their lunches away from the threat of bullying. • Provides kids forum to voice their concerns where they know they will be heard. • C2BK received the Ambassadors of Peace Award by the Orange County Anti-Violence Coalition as well as a Commendation by the Mayor of San Clemente. Cool 2 Be Kind
Dances held in Daniel’s memory to raise awareness. Kids are determined to bring action out of their pain and start C2Bk. C2Bk leaders bring Blue Ribbon Week to San Clemente. C2Bk kids speak at assemblies.
Daniel’s sister Victoria insists on attending the same High School. “Mom, this school is not different than any other. This problem is everywhere. And I won’t let the bullies affect my life more than they already have. I’m going to that high school and I’m going to make a difference through Cool 2 Be Kind.” In their third year of operations, Victoria is bestowed an Honorary Leadership Role in C2BK.
Red Ribbon Week Parade Homecoming Parade. Victoria speaks at community events. Lobbying for legislative changes.
C2Bk kids receive Award of Recognition from OC Supervisor’s Office C2Bk kids receive State Senate Commendation C2Bk leaders receive Commendation from Mayor of San Clemente
2 months before he died, Daniel wrote to DeAngelo Hall Foundation asking to serve in one of their events as his goal was to stop teen violence. Two years after his death, the C2BK club is awarded the Ambassadors Of Peace award by the OC Anti-Violence Coalition. A hallway where Daniel was bullied, two years after his death.
“We gotta make a change. It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes. Let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live and let’s change the way we treat each other. You see, the old way wasn’t working, so it’s on us to do what we gotta do, to survive.” - 2 Pac • “People have been messing with me my whole life. I learned a long time ago there’s no sense getting all riled up every time a bunch of idiots give you a hard time. In the end, the universe tends to unfold as it should.” - Harold and Kumar Quotes Daniel kept on bedroom wall
We Bury Our Child : Not in the name of war, or famine, or disease but for senseless acts of cruelty in america
For more information, contact National Association of People Against Bullying (NAPAB) www.napab.org. NAPAB’S MISSION: To raise awareness and provide education for the prevention of bullying, and to provide critical resources to parents and children who are currently experiencing this tragedy. To learn more about Daniel’s story, go to RIP Daniel Mendez facebookpage. Contact Anna Mendez at 949.212.2246 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or if you are interested in being a part of the grass roots efforts with NAPAB. Sources and References: Dr. Mark Dombeck, The Long Term Effects of Bullying Christi O’Connor, Founder of YouthVoice / Monster March Bully Online: Stress Injury to Trauma, PTSD Artist’s rendition of Daniel on cover by Joseph Adolfe