State to unveil school anti-bullying plan - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State to unveil school anti-bullying plan

Marya Grambs Marya Grambs
Miranda Kam Miranda Kam
Sue Kam Sue Kam

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a public service announcement filmed in black and white, a young man shares his bullying experience from the victim's point of view.

"I feel like killing myself. I have suicidal thoughts," he said.

The PSA is one piece in the state's new plan to curb harassment, bullying and cyber bullying in public schools.

Marya Grambs, executive director of Mental Health America of Hawaii, helped the Department of Education develop the program called Peaceful Schools.

"It's late in coming. There's always been a policy on the books about bullying. But it's never been enforced," she said.

The DOE initiative calls for more training for educators, better methods to identify bullying victims, and a stepped up effort to stop bullying before it starts.

Sue Kam's 16-year-old daughter was bullied by students at her school to the point where she pulled her out.

"It was the worst year of her life," she said.

"They all of a sudden just started spreading vicious rumors about boys and my intelligence," Miranda Kam said.

Sue wrote a book about bullying. She's hopeful the state's efforts lead to results.

"Do I think it's going to change it overnight? No. It's going to take several years to get it to where it needs to be," she said.

A DOE survey said half of 800 students polled said they've been cyber bullied through email and text messages. Bullied students are twice as likely to abuse substances and three times more likely to attempt suicide.

The department unveils its Peaceful Schools program to the Board of Education Tuesday. It will require $1 million initially for additional staff and training and to collect comprehensive data on bullying.

"Every principal, every teacher, and every staff member of every school needs to be trained on what is bullying and how do you recognize it," Grambs said.

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