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Media campaign by special-interest groups supporting "anti-bullying" bills -- in cooperation with liberal reporters & editors

Biased "news" articles planted in Globe, Herald, TV, radio.
A lesson in media propaganda.

POSTED: November 27, 2009  UPDATED: March 12, 2010

They didn't need expensive paid advertisements. They used strategically placed "news" articles in the Boston Globe and Boston Herald, along with some accompanying radio and TV "news" spots. It was done through cooperation with liberal reporters and editors. The articles looked just like news. Much of it was very emotional. But they were the talking points of the anti-bully campaign and used interviews with the people who'd been handpicked to testify at the hearing. It was very slick!


It was quite impressive. Since the public hearing in November, it seems that every few days there was something in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, or on TV or radio about some aspect of the bulying problem.

The campaign appears to have been orchestrated by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) along with the homosexual and transgender lobby.

One can't help but agree that bullying in schools is a problem in the schools -- much more than ever before, for a number of reasons.

But the process -- of an emotional rush into legislation -- was very disturbing. After a while there was a herd mentality that was not going to be derailed. (The Senate voted unanimously for the bill.)

Is this the right approach?  Are the concerns about the homosexual lobby's involvement justified, or even taken into account? Is this something better done by the Dept. of Education than politicians with special interest groups?

As to be expected, no substantial criticism of the bill or the process was included.

One thing's for sure -- this was the best PR campaign for a legislative issue by special-interest groups we'd ever seen.

(Scroll down for how it started in the days leading up to the public hearing in November.)

It started in the days leading up to Nov. public hearing.

The public hearing for the "anti-bullying" bills was Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009. But the big media campaign by the homosexual lobby and their left-wing allies (including the Anti-Defamation League and other school-related groups) started the previous Friday.


Friday, Nov. 13 (4 days before hearing)
- Boston Herald

Two articles (on one page) in the Boston Herald: Survey: (1) Bullies prey on autistic kids and (2) Schools turn a blind eye, parents lament.

These included emotional interviews people they'd picked to testify on Tuesday, along with the general talking points.


Sunday, Nov. 15 (2 days befor hearing)
- Boston Globe

Front page Boston Sunday Globe article: Support swells for anti-bully legislation. More emotional interviews with hand-picked people and talking points. Was there really support, or is that what the Globe wants to have happen?


Tuesday Nov. 17 (morning of hearing)
- WCVB Ch. 5

TV VIDEO: "A Springfield mother says school bullying led to her son's death today she's on Beacon Hill pushing for action."


Tuesday Nov. 17 (morning of hearing)
- Fox news Boston

TV VIDEO: "The new anti-bullying bill goes before the state education committe today. The proposal would require schools to have anti-harassment and anti-bullying pollicies that cyber-bullying . . . "


Wednesday Nov. 18 (day after hearing)
- Boston Globe

"Students urge lawmakers to act on bullying." Grand article playing up the all the major testimony for the bills, along with the background. The reporter was clearly working with the proponents. He even carried a GLESN press release with him during the hearing.

NOTE: There was NO mention in the Globe article of any opposition to these bills, even though the reporter was present for the testimony against them. When we approached the reporter at the hearing to discuss our testimony, he brushed us aside and walked away!


Wednesday Nov. 18 (day after hearing)
- Boston Herald

"Victim's mom lends voice to anti-bully bill." This highlights the emotional suicide testimony and the press conference the proponents had before the hearing.

But this is the ONLY article that actually mentions opposition to the bill: It mentions MassResistance and quotes Brian Camenker.



Sunday, Nov. 22 (5 days after hearing)
- WBZ radio

RADIO AUDIO: Four-minute feature story on the anti-bully bills, with an "expert" saying that the problem with the bills is that they don't go far enough!


Monday, Nov. 23 (6 days after hearing)
- Boston Globe

Lead Editorial: Bullying bill won't solve all, but it's a needed first step.  The Globe admits that the bill is a lot of overkill, with bureaucracy and reports and other stuff that probably won't solve the problem, though could have some good effects (they think).

If nothing else, this teaches you not to believe the mainstream media, seeing (1) how special-interest groups can get phony "news" stories planted with the willing cooperation of journalists and editors, and (2) how biased the news stories you read can actually be, intentionally leaving things out that are inconvenient to what they want you to believe.

Below is the text of the various newspaper articles referenced above. (You can also click on the photos above for links to the actual articles on the Web sites):

Survey: Bullies prey on autistic kids
(Link to article on Herald website)
By Laura Crimaldi, Boston Herald
Friday, November 13, 2009

A shocking new online survey has found that nearly 90 percent of autistic children in the Bay State have been targeted by bullying so violent and ruthless that a state lawmaker says teachers and school systems must be held accountable.

The survey conducted by the Massachusetts Advocates for Children includes painful testimony from parents of autistic children who felt so tortured they stayed home from school for extended periods and even considered suicide.

“We were frankly shocked by the magnitude of the problem,” said attorney Julia Landau, director of the Autism Special Education Legal Support Center at MAC. “It took our breath away.”

About 400 Massachusetts parents responded to the online survey between Sept. 23 and Oct. 12. The survey was prepared as part of an effort to pass legislation requiring that autistic children be taught bullying coping tactics as part of their individual educational plans.

State Rep. Barbara A. L’Italien (D-Andover), who is sponsoring a bill to make teachers responsible for intervening when autistic children are bullied, said school systems have to be held accountable.

“The school systems are oftentimes not seeing it as part of their job,” L’Italien said. “But if it were a kid who was blind and stumbling, they’d immediately address it.”

A whopping 88 percent of parents who responded to the survey said their child was bullied. More than half of parents surveyed said their children were hit, kicked or chased. Nearly 40 percent of the children were bullied for more than a year, the survey results said.

The survey also found only 32 percent of parents said school officials provided an "adequate" response to their complaints about bullying.

Marie Nazzaro of Woburn said public school officials offered her son, Sean, 14, an out-of-district placement after the tormenting got so bad during his fourth-grade year that he confided an elaborate suicide plan to a school psychologist. The boy spent 10 days in outpatient treatment after that episode, his mother said.

“It was very heartbreaking,” said Nazzaro, whose son has Asperger’s syndrome.

On top of the bullying, Nazzaro said her son got caught in bad situations because his autism makes it hard for him to read social cues. In one incident, Sean hit his head on cement and vomited after charging a group of boys he thought were hurting some girls. It turned out the children were having a friendly shoving match, but Nazzaro said her son didn’t realize that.

Dr. Elizabeth Caronna, who directs an autism center at Boston Medical Center, said social skills should be addressed because so many autistic children don’t even know they’re being bullied.

“The first thing is teaching a lot of these kids to identify when it’s happening before it spins out of control,” Caronna said. “It’s such a big problem. It’s so prevalent.”

Parents say schools look the other way
(link to article on Herald website)
By Edward Mason
Boston Herald
Friday, November 13, 2009

It is the personal stories, not just the statistics, that make “Targeted, Taunted, Tormented,” a new report on the bullying of autistic children, so compelling.

Parents opened up and told their stories to the Massachusetts Advocates for Children, including:

“A child threatened to stab my son with a knife and the school never even called that child’s parents,” said the parent of a 14-year-old autistic child. “I ended up calling them. The school did nothing.”

One 15-year-old has been “ ‘knuckled’ black and blue in his upper arms” and “stabbed repeatedly with a pencil” - over several years.

A 5-year-old was “pushed, elbowed, name called” during a hellish first four weeks of kindergarten, which the school explained as, “All the children were adjusting to being in school.”

Another child kept asking his parents why, even though hitting is wrong, “the other student had the ‘right’ to hit him.”

One autistic child was forced to stand in mud puddles by a bully. Aides and playground monitors, the child’s parent said, repeatedly blamed him for the bullying and told him to “go work it out.”

Parents also detailed the psychological cost of persistent bullying.

A parent of an 8-year-old boy said, “My son was physically assaulted by a group of kids who held him down and repeatedly hit him, refusing to let him run away . . . These kids were only in second grade and they were vicious.”

“His self-esteem, which was once very high, is demolished; he has gone from a happy boy to a sad and angry boy,” the parent of a 9-year-old said.

One 14-year-old “became increasingly paranoid and became agitated to the point of hospitalization.”

In some cases, autistic children considered suicide. A 17-year-old was bullied so badly from first grade that by the age of 10 the child “wanted to die.”

The nonprofit Massachusetts Advocates for Children represents children on fronts including education reform, legislative initiatives and legal assistance.

Support swells for anti-bully legislation
Bills call for schools to respond aggressively
(link to article on Globe website)
By James Vaznis, Boston Globe
November 15, 2009

After years of delays, the Legislature appears poised to crack down on bullying among schoolchildren, with hearings beginning this week on nearly a dozen bills that would force local schools to respond more aggressively to instances of cruelty among students.

Similar bills have, in the past, failed repeatedly - even as the number of states with bullying-prevention statutes has grown to 37. But now a broad group of supporters, led by the Anti-Defamation League, are giving the effort the momentum it may need to finally push a measure through to passage.

The advocates are focusing their attention on a bill, sponsored by Representative John Rogers, a Democrat, that would require school districts to report bullying incidents and any discipline imposed to the state. The bill, one of those to be taken up at a hearing Tuesday, has the support of such groups as the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Microsoft Corp., and the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.

The groundswell of support follows the bullying case this year of an 11-year-old boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a student at a Springfield charter school whose classmates ridiculed him for how he dressed, saying he acted like a girl. He hanged himself with an electrical cord at his home in April, leaving behind a note in which he told his family that he loved them and gave his Pokemon games and cards to a 6-year-old brother.

“This is an urgent matter,’’ said the boy’s mother, Sirdeaner Walker, who supports the legislation. “There are other kids like my son Carl who are being bullied every day in school. It happens in every kind of school - urban, suburban, and private. . . . Schools say they are taking care of bullying problems, but they are not.’’

Another case that has drawn attention concerns a 12-year-old autistic boy from Cape Cod who went to his first dance at his school last year.

Dancing by himself, the seventh-grader moved awkwardly, but he was having the time of his life. “He’s no dance star, but he really gets into the music,’’ said his mother, Theresa Jackson, who chaperoned the dance and asked that her son’s name not be used.

Unbeknownst to both of them, a female student videotaped some of his moves on her cellphone and later posted it on YouTube. For the next several days, students posted comments mocking him and hurled insults at him at school.

According to Jackson, school officials did little to remedy the situation - the latest in a string of incidents in which students taunted and bullied the boy over a nearly two-year period, forcing him to change schools.

If bullying goes unaddressed, advocates say it can foster a sense of loneliness, depression, and anxiety in victims as well as instill thoughts of suicide - causing students to skip school, fall behind in class, or inflict harm upon themselves. The harassment sometimes leads victims to lash out violently at others; some school shootings across the nation over the last decade were at the hands of students who had been allegedly bullied.

Nearly a quarter of Massachusetts high school students reported being victims of bullying, while 14 percent admitted to bullying or pushing someone around, according to the state’s most recent survey of health and risk behaviors, which was released last year. In middle school, a smaller portion of students said they were bullied.

While many schools have adopted policies to address bullying, the quality and enforcement of the policies vary greatly, advocates said. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education does not have any formal guidelines on bullying policies, but recommends prevention programs upon request, said JC Considine, a spokesman.

The legislation gaining momentum at the State House would require the state to develop a model policy for local schools, which would be required to address both traditional bullying and cyberbullying - cruelty by computer.

Local schools also would have to document all cases of harassment, discrimination, intimidation, and bullying, and report on the resulting discipline. All incidents would then be reported to state education regulators, who would compile an annual report for the Legislature and periodically review each school’s policies and level of enforcement.

The stringent reporting requirements are raising concerns among some educators, because they say there is sometimes a fine line between bullying and innocuous teasing. “There is so much area for administrative confusion around the issue,’’ said Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. “We want to make sure we can curb bullying in a way that is reasonable and effective.’’

Often the point of teasing is to be humorous, while bullying is an ongoing problem in which the intent is to hurt or have power over someone, said Elizabeth Englander, director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State College, which trains school staff on bullying-prevention tactics. The legislation would require annual training of school employees.

“Most kids are good at telling the difference, but it can be difficult for an observer,’’ Englander said.

Even Englander, however, is concerned that the reporting requirement could prompt some schools not to properly classify incidents as bullying to dodge the requirement and any negative attention it could bring. Children, she said, could suffer the ultimate consequence: not getting the help they need.

Soon after Emily Dale started her eighth-grade year at Swampscott Middle School, a boy in her class began calling her a four-eye freak. Emily tried ignoring the name-calling, but the boy kept it up, eventually turning to outright discrimination, making fun of her for being Jewish and lobbing derogatory sexual comments at her.

When Emily finally worked up the courage to report the incidents to school administrators, the bullying grew worse. Although the school disciplined the boy with a one-day suspension and barred him from a field trip, his friends rushed to his defense, berating Emily at school and online. “I felt like I was being punished,’’ Emily said. “I got messages on my Facebook page, saying I was a terrible person for telling on a boy so well liked.’’

The situation grew so bad that Emily, who is now a 10th-grader, eventually enrolled at a private school.

Maureen Bingham, Swampscott’s interim superintendent, said student privacy rights prevented her from commenting on the incident, which occurred well before her appointment to lead the district. However, she said the school system has long had bullying-prevention policies, and that each school runs programs to curb bullying. The problem, she said, is that not all students follow the rules. “I think the schools do a pretty good job, but it can always be better,’’ Bingham said. “I think it’s a challenge for every school district.’’

On the Cape, Theresa Jackson said her son is doing better now as an eighth-grader at another school in the Sandwich district, where students are more respectful. The Sandwich superintendent didn’t respond to interview requests. Jackson’s son has joined a committee that organizes school dances and serves as secretary of the group, she said, but he remains fearful of going to dances.

“He hasn’t had the courage to go to another one yet,’’ Jackson said, “but he keeps trying.’’

Students urge lawmakers to act on bullying
11 bills currently under review
(Link to article on Globe website)
By Brian R. Ballou, Boston Globe
November 18, 2009

Students, teachers, and specialists on aggressive behavior filled a State House hearing room yesterday with personal stories about bullying at school and in cyberspace and offered opinions on several antibullying bills under consideration by lawmakers.

A female student who attended Swampscott public schools said a boy taunted her relentlessly at school, to the point where she feared going back. As a result, the girl told about a dozen members of the Joint Committee on Education, her grades and her relationships with other students suffered. She ultimately left the district to attend another school.

“I was pushed out of the town I spent my whole life in,’’ the girl testified. “I found a school that I feel comfortable in, but I wonder if the school had reacted in an appropriate way, would I still be a student in Swampscott schools.’’

About 300 people attended the hearing, which ran for more than three hours.

Yesterday, a teenage boy spoke from the perspective of a reformed bully. “Last year, I was part of the problem, I was insensitive, and I treated my peers without consideration,’’ said the student, who attends the Rashi School in Newton. “I used names and jokes to make him feel smaller . . .,’’ the teen said.

When the dean of students at the private school intervened and required the student to study the effects of bullying, the teen said he stopped bullying and became compassionate.

Antibullying bills have come before the Legislature before but have been defeated. Now, a broad group of supporters, led by the Anti-Defamation League, are giving the effort the momentum it may need to push a measure to passage.

There are 11 bills under consideration. The most popular one appears to be House Bill 483, which would prohibit bullying on school grounds and at school functions and would require staff to report cases of bullying.

The committee will evaluate the testimony and other comments from supporters and opponents of the 11 bills before crafting a measure to send to the full Legislature for a vote.

Michael Sheetz, vice chairman of the ADL of New England region board of directors, said “38 states have antibullying laws, Massachusetts lags far behind.’’

He called House Bill 483 the most comprehensive of the 11, but added that it should be amended to include a provision that identifies the specific nature of the bullying, such as taunts or comments related to the victim’s race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

Sirdeaner Walker testified that her 11-year-old son, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a Springfield charter school student, hanged himself in his bedroom last April, after being bullied. Walker said students called her son gay and ridiculed his attire. .

“What could make a child his age despair so much that he would take his own life? That question haunts me today,’’ she said. “Those kids called him those names because they knew they were the most hurtful things they could say to him, and they hit their mark.’’

State Representative Martha M. Walz, who chaired yesterday’s hearing, said any bill, if enacted, would encompass charter and public schools.

Nearly a quarter of Massachusetts high school students reported being victims of bullying, while 14 percent admitted to bullying or pushing someone around, according to the state’s most recent survey of health and risk behaviors, which was released last year. In middle school, a smaller portion of students said they were bullied.

Many schools in the state have adopted policies to deal with bullying, but advocates say enforcement of those polices varies by school. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education does not have formal guidelines on bullying policies, but recommends prevention programs.

Northeastern University professor Jack Levin, a criminologist, testified before the committee that bullying, when left unchecked, can have tragic and violent consequences.

“Bullying should be a red flag,’’ he said. “The Virginia Tech killer [Seung-Hui Cho] was bullied and harassed, and no one offered a helping hand. The origins of the Virginia Tech massacre can be seen in the killer’s life, long before he got to college."

Victim’s mom lends voice to bully bill
(link to article on Herald website)
By Marie Szaniszlo, Boston Herald
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The distraught mother of an 11-year-old Springfield boy who hanged himself after he was relentlessly tormented by sadistic schoolmates implored state lawmakers yesterday to end years of political wrangling and pass tough, new anti-bullying measures.

“What could make a child despair so much that he could take his own life?” said Sirdeaner Walker, who walked into her son Carl Walker-Hoover’s room on April 6 and found him hanging from an extension cord.

“Bullying is not an inevitable part of growing up,” Walker told the Joint Committee on Education. “Educators need additional support and clear guidance.”

The committee is weighing nearly a dozen bills that address bullying. But the one that has gained the broadest support so far is House Bill 483, which has been endorsed by the Anti-Defamation League, the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Asssociation, the Massachusetts Teachers Association and dozens of other groups.

The bill would require the state to develop a model policy addressing all types of bullying, from schoolyards to cell phones. Local schools, in turn, would have to document all incidents and discipline for review by the state.

At a news conference before the hearing, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley noted that, unlike children, adults are protected by law from harassment and other vexing behavior constituting a hostile work environment.

“If we, as adults, afford these protections to other adults, then how can we deny them to children?” Conley said.

Without strict intervention, experts said, kids who are bullied can come to believe they have only two options: suicide or homicide.

In a 2002 report based on its study of school shootings, the Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center found that as many as three out of four of the shooters felt bullied or persecuted before the incident.

“Bullying and harassment were so closely correlated with school shootings that the Secret Service recommended strong anti-bullying policies for school districts nationwide,” Conley said.

More than three dozen states went a step further by adopting legislation.

While most of those who testified yesterday backed such a law, Brian Camenker of MassResistance, a “pro-family action center,” claimed supporters had been brought in by “special-interest groups” with a gay-rights agenda.

“Bullying unfortunately has been around since the beginning of time,” Camenker said.

Bullying bill won’t solve all, but it’s a needed first step
(link to article on Globe website)
November 23, 2009

BULLYING DESTROYS lives and sometimes ends them. In one horrific example, 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover hanged himself last April, after classmates at his Springfield charter school ridiculed him for how he dressed.

Can anti-bullying laws stop that kind of tragedy? A new bill, sponsored by state Representative John Rogers and backed by the Anti-Defamation League, attempts to get at one underlying problem: the need for accountability. It requires school districts to report all bullying incidents and any discipline imposed.

The severity of the problem merits such close attention. “Bullying occurs in most schools,’’ said Rogers. “It is an accepted part of the education fabric. It doesn’t have to be that way, nor should it be that way.’’

The bill calls for Massachusetts to develop a model policy that addresses traditional bullying and cyber-bullying. That’s a good start.

But the bill also requires schools to document all cases of harassment, discrimination, intimidation, and bullying and report the consequences to the state. That raises some legitimate issues about process and enforcement. When does teasing officially turn into bullying? What if the reporting requirements are counterproductive, prompting schools to avoid classifying an incident as bullying? What good is a report on bullying, if it only joins legions of other reports on other insidious education problems?

If this bill does nothing more than force schools to produce one more report that no one reads or acts upon, it will indeed be a failure. But if it causes one teacher, principal, or parent to confront what looks like mindless teasing and try to stop it before it spirals out of control, then it is worth the burden of extra paperwork. A school should be a safe place for every student in it.