The following is the Sacramento African American Issues Examiner's response to questions asked and/or discussion on California Bill AB 1455. Please feel free to share your response and/or opinion below.
The California chapter of the National Association of Social Workers proposed that the bill they refer to as, AB 1455 but may be known better as the, victims of bullying counseling referral proposal. If passed, this bill would allow a modification to the education code, adding 48900.9, allowing for schools to not only refer the perpetrator, the bully, to counseling services but will also allow schools to refer the victims of bullying to counseling services as well.
I chose to write about this bill because not only should volatile human behavior not be tolerated but victims of violent and/or volatile behavior should be assisted in recovery thereof by professionals who have the tools to potentially reverse the damage of being victimized. Moreover, there is also the potential for victims to develop empathy for their perpetrators beyond that which is normal if they are left alone to rationalize volatile and/or violent behavior they suffered.
The California National Association of Social Workers provided a small historical glimpse of history associated with the development of this bill. In the bill summary, two teenaged girls, both residents of Santa Clara County in California, who were victims of bullying, were presented in support of the need for this bill. 15 year old, Audrie Pott was one of the victims who responded in the most extreme way as she succeeded in ending her own life as a direct result and/or response to the bullying. Additionally, the other teen mentioned in the bill summary, Amanda Brownell who was 16 years old, also died but in a bit of a more delayed physiological response to her self-injuries. Brownwell, according to the bill summary, attempted suicide right on her high school campus as a direct result of her victimization. The NASW bill summary reports that Brownwell sustained injuries but passed away sometime after. The summary failed to specify the exact time frame from her suicide attempt to her actual death, but the summary does infer that her death was in conjunction with the injuries she sustained after she attempted suicide.
The National Association of Social Workers presents the lack of such modification to the current educational code as a problem. The NASW offers up a comparison, comparing California’s mental health response in such situations to that of other popular states such as Florida, Texas, Washington and New York to name a few. The NASW describes their response as a, “comprehensive mental health component” leaving Californian in some level of embarrassment as California has yet to implement changes that the NASW has identified as “prevention policy.”
Research leads to Florida statutes on bullying where they have taken a most aggressive stance against such behavior. Florida’s Title XLVIII, K-20 Education Code 1006.147 is known assertively and literally as, “Bullying and harassment prohibited.” The code was a result of efforts made by gentlemen, Jeffrey Johnston from a said Stand Up for All Students Act (2013 Florida Statutes) and is a highly detailed accord of specific behaviors tolerable and intolerable in relation to bullying. Furthermore, the bill is very no nonsense and direct describing in detail what bullying is in most every aspect and in correlation to what California AB1455 seeks, Florida’s title XLVIII commands that school policies incorporate anti-bully behavior within the very threads of the school’s curriculum. Specific to the victims of bullying, the state of Florida has included a clause, (j) in section 4 of their bullying code that specifies and/or commands that victims of such crime be referred for counseling.
The state of Texas has a government website dedicated to the cause known as; stopbullying.gov and they address malicious bully behavior within the constraints of several of their education codes. Texas Education Codes 21.451; code 25.0342, code 28.002, code 37.001, code 37.0832, code 37.083a, code 37.123, code 37.124 and code 37.217 all collectively address specific components of malicious bully behavior. In relevancy to what California AB 1455 seeks, the state of Texas has defined in section 25.0342 of Texas educational code mentioned 25.0342, victim services that can include transfer of victims to another class or even another school in support of the victimized students mental health preservation. However, the clause also explains that students seeking transfer to another school due to bullying will not receive transportation assistance to or from the new school. The addressing of transportation of students in such instances is relevant to California AB 1455 as it does not address such instances and may want to include or at minimal provide for a dialogue thereof based on Texas’ potential exclusion and/or experience in such happenings.
Overall, the history of this bill is a national one that many states have addressed but as the NASW suggests, California is overdue in having formally addressed the issue as it pertains to victim support and advocacy.
The Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Education on January 23, 2014. At the Standing Committee on Education, the bill received 7 yes commands which are better known as, “Ayes.” The bill was ordered to a third reading on April 21, 2014. (see Open States)
Nationally, many states have shown that they support the ideas proposed in AB 1455 as most states have already addressed the issues and provided laws in protection thereof. In California, Governor Brown has a supportive history in support of anti-bullying laws; He signed AB 1156 that required schools staff to be trained in bully prevention. Governor Brown also signed AB9 (see Seth’s Law), that requires schools to address and respond to bullying. Brown’s signature on AB9 was derived to Seth Walsh who committed suicide in a San Francisco school as direct result of bullying. Research does not reveal much about Brown’s support of AB1455 but based on his history in support previous anti-bullying acts, it is easy to draw the assumption that he will support AB1455 supporting the victims of bullying.
Assembly speaker Nora Campos, representative of the 27th District (San Jose and Santa Clara) is in support of AB1455. Campos is dedicated to the District 27 community and boasts her notable act of recreating one of San Jose’s heavy crime zones into a productive economic optimizer after she transformed it into an active shopping center. (seeCampos’s biography)
The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) is said to be California’s “largest mental health” entity with roughly 19,000 members. NAMI bases their support with and through their expertise in/of mental illness. NAMI describes in detail how bullying affects the mental state of humans by mostly attacking the esteem of its victims. NAMI’s understanding of human behavior in relation to bullying is a huge support being that NAMI conclusions are based in research, experience and facts. NAMI feels that AB1455 is a pre-requisite to eliminating abuse. (NAMI)
No great oppositional party stands-out in research; However, the California Faculty Association stands firm that parental consent of such services should never be lost in the potential process of referring child victims of bullying to counseling.
Support for victims of crime is usually a developmental process. In social work, the development of laws to protect children is a great example of how victim advocacy is, or can be, a journey of lows prior to laws are implemented to protect memetics associated with prevention of such happenings. Specific to AB1455, the process seems to have developed appropriately. However, if asked to offer any criticism therein, I would say that at the initial development in addressing such crimes, legislatures, peers, advocates and victims alike should have researched preventative tactics external to their specific knowledge and arena.
Research of practices used to eliminate, minimize and/or deter such behavior should have happened early in the law implementing process so that California could have initiated obligations that support victims early on. Merely having read Florida’s approach to control bullying behavior and provide support to victims would have worked as an early model. Hence, California could have brought their laws right into proper alignment with the totality of preventative services that included victim counseling. Florida State having already addressed the need for victim support, California could have thought to address such potential service earlier by virtue, as mentioned, merely reading another states practice therein.
This is not to say that California should merely copy and follow another states approach but, California could have addressed and dialogued about the issue, potentially obtained some ideas of how to address the issue despite a choice to implement or not implement similar tactics. Instead, California legislators an assemblymen now feel, “behind” in their response to implement laws in protection and advocacy of bully victims.
The issues are being addressed now solely in response to District 27’s suicide and/or Nora Campos’ attentiveness and zeal to establish her zone as a safe and productive one. Campos does not approach her duties hesitantly; Campos is bold and proactive about incorporating laws to support the changes she seeks and/or envisions in her area.
The political climate is indeed ripe for the implementation of such a law. The country has begun to respond to racism with intolerance collaboratively. Similarly, other disgusting behaviors are now seen as intolerable in alignment with the national tone of nonacceptance toward that which does not facilitate optimal human development.
Naturally, not every faucet of oppression, violence and abuse is revolted against nationwide; There are still many groups and individuals who seek to malign human optimal health, development and wellness through racism, oppression and violence but as mentioned, the overall human tone in America at this time is far less tolerant and even less passive about approaching and combating such behavior.
Some examples of the current level of low tolerance include the heavy commercialized response to the murder of innocent Trayvon Martin. Popular social website users respond in unison by blacking out their profile picture and spreading comments in support of not tolerating such behavior. Behavior specialists have addressed the disgusting behavior of Martin’s murderer. Celebrities express their opinion in song and communities have welcomed discussion therein at schools, public venue’s, rally’s and right even into their own homes at the dinner table and/or family events.
In this age, most any behavior out of alignment with essentially safe and productive human existence is questioned and addressed. In the current nation, investors commonly withdraw their support of individuals when that individual exhibits questionable behavior. Unfavorable word usage that is discriminatory is now a natural cause for disciplinary action. When a celebrity chef, Paula Deen used the “N” word, she lost fans, investment support and jobs. Nevertheless, the repercussions of Donald Sterling who has been literally banned from the NBA for what was revealed about his character and his memetics, is more evidence that the current time does not support cultural bias and prejudice regardless of whether a specific individual is conscious of such intolerance before or after they exhibit this type of unhealthy behavior.
The current climate is such that, if an injustice happens, particularly that which is destructive to the optimal health and wellness of the human, disciplinary action follows. Furthermore, in the current season, mental health is understood to be the foundation of optimal health and wellness whereby associated dysfunction thereof is simply not tolerated.
Future of Bill
I have much confidence that this bill will be passed. It seems natural to provide services in assisting victims of violent crime rather than thinking and/or believing that removing the aggressor solves the problem. Society is ready for such service and not implementing the service would not be productive as lack in support would/will malign human progress.
Implications for Social Work Clients
I envision there to be, as a direct result of this bill, a naturalization associated with the seeking of mental help. As more victims receive counseling services for having dealt with abuse associated with being a victim of bullying, people will began to peel down the wall associated with seeking mental health services.
As children and teens begin to see their peers getting help for issues that they are dealing with, it will become a natural thing for persons to seek mental health services. As people move toward seeking more mental health services, social workers and psychologist will increase in value and just like any other consumer need, supply and demand will optimize the social work world. More importantly, as the focus shift to mental health services and mental health, the polishing of the mental health profession will begin and roots of old will resurface to optimize the power associated with thought and self-talk control. As human’s begin to see the power in the phrase, “I AM”, virtuous character has the potential to induce memetics sustain life, promote optimal health and wellness and eventually, elevate humanity to the next quantum level physically through thought and thought creation.
In social work, life sustaining memetics would be those words and thoughts that help the individual to understand that by virtue of their perception, they can essentially create the world they live in. Such memetics will promote and understanding that humans truly do have to be the change they desire to see in and of the world.
The combination of social work practice that induces optimal health and wellness in conjunction with societies lack of tolerance for ill behavior could move society closer to a world that is less violent and more about handling personal and interpersonal behaviors and relationships. It seems that literally, through this seemingly small step forward, a bill such AB1455 will close the gap between victim and abuser. Each, victim and abuser, will began to understand their role in abuse. The victim will begin to learn that they must fight to preserve their self-perception when they are victimized while the abuser will in turn learn that they do not have the audacity to impress their perception onto others to the point of debilitation/violence. Society will begin to understand that it is a cognitive choice to be a victim and that it is a narcissistic choice to be an abuser.
If I had to testify before the legislation about AB1455, I would tell them that it is a huge step forward in mental health and human development. I would say specifically that it is about time for humans to turn their focus toward the human mind via mental health services. I would strongly encourage that designs in preparation for helping consumer’s to understand their responsibility in self-mind control, in self -perception amidst the perception of others should begin to take place immediately. I would remind legislators that all we have heard and learned through perceptual “words of wisdom” from the Vedas, the Moors, from Lao Tzu, from the Kybalion, from the Bhagavad Gita on through the students of the Moors (the Tsakopoulous Helenic collection of authors who may be better known as Plato/Socrates/Aristotle) and civilizations thereafter who sought to reinterpret the scrolls as their interpretation of the bibliographies (the bible); Are all memetics. These memetics act as simply mere words used to induce ways of thinking and by such, I would remind them that it is up to social workers and psychologist (at minimal as it should be the responsibility of all persons) to measure memetics at all times and ensure that laws, such as AB1455 continue to be in support of the upward development of the human psyche.
Moreover, I would tell them that AB1455 is an opportunity to push mental health persona into beauty as many still trace it with negative stigma. In a direct relevance, I would assert that AB1455 is a voice for victims. I would assert that victims are oppressed and that the oppressed do have the potential to become oppressors if they are not properly treated. In conjunction, I would highlight school house bullies as being persons who are potentially oppressed in some ways and just as with victims, the focus in treatment for such persons should actively include development of perception, but with a primarily empathetic focus as a measure to minimize much of the narcissism associated with violent or volatile bully behavior.
I would ensure that legislation understands that the passing of AB1455 is overdue. I would encourage them to act in haste to develop therapeutic guidelines in support of future counseling for bully’s and victims. I would encourage them to pass it with views of developing humanity.
My opinion of the bill being passed is one of nearly total bias toward my belief that the mental health focus should be developing positive self- talk in victims and bully’s. In my opinion, the bill is a newborn, void of many human attributes but still absolutely human in nature. The bill needs to develop and grow with time but right away, in its implementation; the bill needs to serve as permission to reverse the damage associated with being bullied.
As mentioned early on, victims can over-develop empathy for their abuser onward into what is referred to psychologically as, Stockholm syndrome. It is of great importance that victims do not internalize unhealthy behaviors to the point of acceptance and tolerance. Victims need treatment to maintain their mental health when dealing with unbalanced persons who abuse others. Without treatment, victims can develop unhealthy social behaviors that can lead them into mental dis-equilibrium where medication may be required to stabilize their mental-chemical status psychologically.
Moreover, issues of mental imbalance due to bully-type psychological abuse tend to have a physical and mental level of suffering as does most abuse that happens in an setting where optimal development should take place. Likewise, future articles should incorporate home-school settings as a place of potential abuse. In a quick and efficient manner, laws within AB1455 should include required quarterly, weekly, monthly or some routine form of home visitation for children in a primarily home schooled setting. In fact, parents who opt to home-school their children should be required to place that child in no less than weekly counseling services as a measure to supplement the minimized social development children in home school settings are subject to. (seeResponsible Home Schooling)
While this bill primarily seeks to protect children in their educational setting, education itself is also being preserved and protected. It can be said that humans do not reach their full potential unless they are able to access education. Education is the one vice of salvation. Abused children routinely seek refuge in educational atmospheres, it is vital that such atmospheres be protected and preserved for that purpose additionally.
In the article, Abuse in Homeschooling Environment the author highlights dysfunctions such as death associated with abuse and homeschooling. Furthermore, the author also reveals the vast amount of children subject to home-schooling by mentally ill parents or parents who abuse substances. AB1455 should continue to evolve to a level adequate to preserve education in every aspect. The risk of "mis-education" is soaring through schools that do not currently have victim supportive mental health services and advocacy. The referenced, "mis-education" can lead to deeper oppression but even more dangerous, can lead to the breeding of oppressors.
I support AB 1455 because I want victims of bullying to know that they are not the problem. I want victims of bully’s to understand that they have support and protection when they are in their educational environment. I want victims of bully’s to have access to professionals who can help them reverse the damages they suffer from being abused. In contrast, I want bully’s to know and receive the message that they hurt another person to the point that the person they hurt had to seek help to undue their damage and AB1455 sends that message when a bully is left to witness their victim receive service to counteract their verbal, physical and/or mental abuse.
I support AB1455 because I want bystanders to understand that someone needs medical help when they are victimized by a bully. I look forward to seeing this bill active in the world. I believe in social justice and I believe in working to develop optimal mental health in society through laws that protect and promote it such as AB1455.
• Brown support on AB9 and AB1156 http://laist.com/2011/10/10/governor_brown_signs_two_anti-bullying_bills...
• Campos Biography
• Open States
• NAMI California
• Responsible Home Schooling