NORTH JERSEY — At the start of the new academic year, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and the North Jersey Anti-Bullying Task Force Thursday announced a new report of recommendations for schools, teachers, administrators, and for state and federal policymakers to improve anti-bullying policies in New Jersey and nationwide — from kindergarten through the college level.
The Task Force, created by Gottheimer in January 2020, is chaired by Jane Clementi, Co-Founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, Ridgewood resident, and mother of late Rutgers student and cyberbullying victim Tyler Clementi.
The North Jersey Anti-Bullying Task Force’s report includes key recommendations to address bullying by:
- Redefining the New Jersey definition of bullying;
- Improving investigations into bullying incidents;
- Improving and expanding training for teachers and staff;
- Incorporating mental health services into the school setting; and
- Addressing cyberbullying earlier and beyond school settings.
“As the school year starts amidst this crisis — whether that’s remote or in the classroom –– the recommendations in our new report will be crucial for helping schools and policymakers improve anti-bullying policies — at both the state and national level,” Gottheimer said. “Too many children and students are bullied at school and online. Too many are harmed, whether it be their academic performance, or physical and psychological harm. And for far too many, may not see a solution. This report is a critical step in improving our nation’s and New Jersey’s anti-bullying policies, and to continue combating these issues at every angle to help keep our kids safe.”
“I am most grateful to Congressman Gottheimer for bringing attention to the harms and issues of bullying and especially for taking action by calling together this Task Force. It has been a total privilege to serve as chairperson with such an amazing group of caring, knowledgeable and accomplished individuals who joined me on the Anti-Bullying Task Force,” said Jane Clementi, Co-Founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation and Chair of the North Jersey Anti-Bullying Task Force. “I learned so much from the Taskforce members as they shared their experiences and often hard learned wisdom, to help improve school environments so every student will feel safe in their schools and classrooms, allowing students to be able to grow, thrive and focus on what is essential to the education process…learning.”
This report’s findings are a product of months of work, meeting, and coordination by the Task Force, which included speaking with experts, practitioners and teachers, reviewing academic studies and findings, and digging into New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, New Jersey’s Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying laws, school bullying policies, and federal anti-bullying laws.
The Task Force is hopeful that adopting some or all of these recommendations will help reduce bullying incidents throughout New Jersey and the country.
More than one in five children in the U.S. will be bullied either at school or online. Seventy percent of students say they have witnessed bullying in their schools. Only about 20 to 30 percent of students who are bullied actually notify adults about their experiences.
Members of the North Jersey Anti-Bullying Task Force:
- Jane Clementi, Chair, Co-founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation
- Dr. Sarah Amador, licensed clinical psychologist at the Psychological Associates of North Jersey
- Becky Carlson, Executive Director of the Center for Prevention and Counseling in Newton.
- Alisha DeLorenzo, Interim Deputy Director of Garden State Equality in Trenton
- Aidan Holt, Junior at Ridgewood High School.
- Tammi Kaminski, parent and former PTO President at BF Gibbs Elementary School in New Milford.
- Carrie Leonard, Dean of Students at Ryerson Middle School in Ringwood
- Joe Licata, CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Lower Bergen County in Lodi.
- Carla Mancuso, Special Education Teacher and Reading Specialist at High Point High School in Wantage.
- Dr. Vivek Singh, Associate Professor at the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University
- Donna West, teacher at Nellie K. Parker Elementary School in Hackensack
- Dan Young, Vernon Township Police Chief
View the North Jersey Anti-Bullying Task Force Report here.