Bullying has been in the news a lot more recently, but what is it exactly ?


Bullying is unwanted, usually unprovoked, aggressive behavior amongst school age children. It most commonly occurs where there is an imbalance of power and popularity. The bullying behavior can include name calling, rumors, threats, allegations, physically pushing, shoving, punching, slapping or otherwise attacking another, or excluding one from the group or activities. These behaviors are usually repeated against the same individual time after time, either in person or by cyber efforts i.e. text, tweets, emails, facebook, blogs, IM.

The risk factors for being the target of bullies are multitude and varied but include several of the following things:

1) children that are new to their school
2) children that cannot afford the things and activities of the other children
3) children that are overweight or underweight
4) children that have disabilities – either mental or physical
5) children that are depressed
6) children that are introverts
7) children that wear glasses, braces or have other physically different characteristics
8) children with a different sexual orientation
9) children of a different racial orientation

Even if a child has these risk factors it certainly does not mean that he or she will be bullied,
but they are risk factors that parents need to be mindful of. It is also very important that parents ensure that their children are not bullys and don’t condone actions of bullies that they may witness. The best way to ensure this is to have open lines of communication with your children and make sure they know how to report bullying immediately. Parents need to explain to their children the drastic effects bullying can have, and that children need to stand up for their peers when they see bullying occur.

It is important for parents to know and be watchful of warning signs that their child might be the target of bullies. Children often don’t ask for help and parents have to know when to step in. Signs that your child might be the target of a bully include:

1) isolation
2) failing grades
3) not wanting to go to school or the location where the bulling is occurring
4) change in habits of eating, sleeping, bed wetting, moods
5) self destructive behavior: cutting oneself, running away from home, suicidal thoughts, talk
or attempts
6) anger towards others or pets
7) lost or destroyed clothing, toys, money
8) unexplained physical injuries

Children learn from adults’ actions. If adults treat each other with respect and kindness, the
children witnessing this know there is no place for bullying and will more likely stand up for
themselves and others. Help Stop Bullying !

Foster Children Have Rights

orphanage girlFor many years the children in foster homes in the State of Texas have suffered much injury
and neglect. Sometimes that injury comes at the hands of other children, and sometimes at
the hands of adults. But either way, children in foster homes have the same rights and legal
protections as all other children. They are entitled to live in a safe, nurturing, environment, with the foster home parents and foster placement agency being responsible as their parents for their safety and welfare.

If the foster child is harmed by neglect or abuse while in the foster home the child has the
right to legal recourse and can sue the foster parents and the foster placement agency for
potential recovery of damages for their injuries.

In all practicality, this legal recourse will usually have to be taken by parents that ultimately
adopt the foster child who then hold the legal rights for that child until they are 18 years.
These lawsuits may be brought for the physical, mental, and emotional injury that the foster
child suffered while at the foster home.

In addition to these types of suits for specific injuries, Judge Janis Jack in the United States
District Court Corpus Christi recently ruled that a class action on behalf of approximately 12,000 foster children in the state of Texas for violations of their constitutional rights filed against the Governor, the Executive Commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission, and the Commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services will move forward in the courts. See Judge Janis’ Order of August 27, 2013.

This is the first major step forward in hopefully the State of Texas taking a serious look at
reworking the foster care system overall to protect children from harm.