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Addressing the Needs of LGBTQ Youth


Stories of attacks on the way home from the bus stop, bullying in the classroom, and assaults in school hallways are all-too-frequent reminders that our community and many others throughout the US are still not safe places for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. Perhaps what is most heartbreaking is that some youth have come to believe that this is normal, that this is just part of growing up, or that this is how life is for LGBTQ individuals. SMYAL is working to change all that by providing an inclusive environment and empowering DC-area LGBTQ youth to be leaders and advocates for themselves and their peers in the broader community. We provide youth with the opportunities, support, and skills they need to de-escalate conflicts as they occur and to work within their community to root out these conflicts from their source.


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Did You See What She Posted? Options for How High School Students Can Respond to Negative Social Media Comments

media-998990_1920When I graduated high school in 2007, social media was just starting to take off. My sophomore year of high school I created a MySpace page, which was the only social media outlet I had, and I could only visit it from my computer at home. Facebook didn’t come out until the beginning of my senior year, and it didn’t catch on in my high school until a couple of months before graduation.  Twitter didn’t pick up speed until I was in college which was also when everyone started getting iPhones. Instagram and Snapchat didn’t exist. It is crazy that I only graduated nine years ago from high school, and my experience is so much more different than kids today.

When I was in school, and I got into a fight with a friend, we wouldn’t speak to each for the rest of the day. Perhaps we would call each other after school or get on AOL instant messenger and have a fight, but getting online and battling it out were still somewhat unfamiliar. Nowadays, you fight with a friend, and before you reach your next class, she could have already posted a status and tweeted about it.

High school was not my most favorite years – which are a sentiment many people share. High school was tough then. However, I don’t believe it is anywhere close to how tough it is now.  Social media and smartphones have taken high school, bullying, and conflict to a whole new level.

Students have access to social media all throughout the school day and posting or tweeting negative remarks can be done quickly and easily, right from the palm of their hand. If you are a student, how can you respond to these negative and many times destructive comments?

  1. Approach your friend and talk about the post face-to-face. An intimidating idea, but social media networks and the internet provide anyone a platform to say things they may not have the courage to say otherwise. Ask to speak to your friend privately, and explain how the post made you feel and ask what the reason was for posting it to the world. Lastly, discuss what could be done to resolve the issue.
  1. Ignore it. If you don’t act like the comment or the post bothers you then, they are not receiving the reaction which is most likely what they want. By ignoring them, you are not giving their harmful words power. 
  1. Kill them with kindness. My best friend, Maria is the nicest person you will ever meet, and she is kind to everyone. When another girl was acting nasty towards Maria rather than treating the girl in a mean way, Maria continued to be friendly. I asked Maria, “Why did you respond this way?” She said if you are nice to everyone regardless of what they say, then the person who makes negative comments or acts mean is the one that looks bad. Therefore, if someone comments or posts that the outfit you are wearing in a picture is hideous, you could respond with something neutral and friendly. For example: “I’m sorry you feel that way. I’ve always thought you had excellent taste in clothes perhaps you could give me some pointers?”
  1. Talk to someone. I stress this point because many students today think if they tell someone they will look like a tattle-tale. However, if negative or destructive comments persist it is imperative that you tell a trusted adult, especially if you feel threatened.
  1. Limit or close your accounts. I am not suggesting you do this permanently – but not allowing people to have access to you will limit their ability to hurt you.

High school is just a small portion of your life – learning how to address negative and destructive posts and comments now, will prepare you for the real world later.

Have a Great Week,

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management


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Identifying Campus Bullies By Empowering The Bystander

Tim PortermiaAppddiction Studio’s Stop Bullies district-wide smartphone app empowers bystanders to capture bully events as they occur and report them to school administrators in real time. School administrators can then begin to investigate the incidents immediately utilizing the Stop Bullies secure dashboard which allows for the receipt, analysis, and management of incidents across the district. With incident information captured by the bystander trained professionals within the school can put their training and intervention expertise to work thus making the campus safer. School counselors can then work on proactively preventing the next incident without spending valuable time on “He said-She said” type interviews.

Mr. Tim Porter recommends that every school district should consider implementing the Stop Bullies app. Stop Bullies can be downloaded by district students in grades K-12 to work on any smartphone regardless of platform including iPhone/iPad/iPad Mini/iPod Touch/Android/Android Tablets/Windows 8/Blackberry and is multi-language.


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Become a Virtual Judge or Have Your Case Settled on the Net- Part 2

Oct 6th

StephenKotev2Brāv is a new way for people of any age to find a solution to bullying, violence, and conflict. Find out why this is so important and join our guest, Remi Alli to learn how to settle family, school, and workplace disputes online.


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Become a Virtual Judge or Have Your Case Settled on the Net- Part 1

Oct 6th

StephenKotev2Brāv is a new way for people of any age to find a solution to bullying, violence, and conflict. Find out why this is so important and join our guest, Remi Alli to learn how to settle family, school, and workplace disputes online.



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Is your teen being moody? Or are they being bullied? Tips and Strategies for parents whose teens may be victims of bullying

t1larg.cyber.bullying.gi-1Bullying has become one of the biggest topics of conversation in today’s education system. Bullying caused conflict between two or more students and left unresolved, can result in severe consequences. According to Dosomething.org, “Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year”. Dosomething.org also points out “Only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse”. Teens may not be reporting their abuse to their parents. Therefore, the parents may have no idea it is occurring until it is too late. While I am not a parent, I would feel in these situations both helpless and hurt if my child was being bullied and I had no idea. I have brainstormed below some tips and strategies for parents whose teens may be victims of bullying and what they can do to assist their teen in managing these conflicts.

  1. Talk to your adolescents. I know teenagers are challenging during this period of their life when they are changing daily and regularly pushing the boundaries of freedom. But, parents you need to talk with your kids, even if it’s small talk about the mundane events of their lives. Keeping lines of communication open are necessary because if your child feels they cannot disclose information to you then they won’t.
  2. Keep your cool. If your child does open up about the conflicts they are experiencing in school, jumping into protective parent mode could make your child hesitant to tell you things in the future. Keep in mind, involving your parents is uncool during your teen years. Instead, brainstorm with your teen constructive ways to manage their conflict that does not involve contacting the other parents or administration.
  3. Be observant of your child’s behavior and temperaments. I know irritability and mood swings are typical in teenagers, but if your teen withdraws, or their personality makes an 180° turn, then that is cause for concern. Take notice if your child appears more upset after texting on her phone or using the computer, cyber bullying has become a serious issue in today’s society. If your teen seems more upset than usual after using these technologies, someone could be harassing him or her.
  4. Take a timeout from social media. Teens are spending a lot more time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. Surfing the sites to see what their friends are doing can be very addicting. Parents suggest to your teen that they take a break for a couple of hours each week. Unlike back in the day, when students were being bullied, they could escape from it when they went home. Technology has allowed bullies to enter into the home and continue their harassment of your teen. Requesting your teen take some time away from social media could assist them from getting away from their bully.
  5. Teach your teen how to manage conflict constructively. Conflict does not have to be a bad thing. Teaching your teen to confront their bully, without violence can be a confidence booster. Teach your teen to ask their bully questions such as, why are you treating me this way? What can be done to resolve this? If the bullying persists, tell your teen to come to you.
  6. If bullying does continue, ask your teen if it is okay to intervene. If they agree, go to the administration and ask what they feel can be done to resolve this issue.

Bullying is not okay. Unfortunately, many administrators and teachers in the school system see this behavior as normal and acceptable. But, when adolescents are resorting to harming themselves as a way out, the issue becomes life and death. Parents, I urge you to check in with your teens and make sure they have not fallen victim to bullying behavior.


Abigail Clark M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management


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What happens on the bus, shouldn’t stay on the bus!

TC Blog 7 - School Bus ConflictWith the start of 2014-2015 school year in full swing, children across the country will be boarding the school bus to arrive before the morning bell sounds. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, school buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school. But how safe is a child from the other children inside of the bus? School bus bullying is becoming a growing concern among parents, school administrations, and bus drivers. According to the U.S. Department of Education 10 percent of school bullying occurs on the school bus. Stopbullying.gov defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”

What are the signs of a child being bullied on the school bus?
• Reluctance to ride the school bus
• Repeated occurrences of “missing the bus”
• Asking others to take them to school to avoid the bus

School bus drivers have a very important task, which is to make sure every child on the bus arrives safely to and from school. To prevent or stop school bus bullying, it takes a village (parents, teachers, and bus drivers).

What can you do if a child is being bullied on the bus?
• Listen – It’s not easy for a child to say they are being picked on. When they bring it up, listen.
• Ask open-ended questions. An open-ended question can’t be answered with a yes or no response. Some examples of open-ended questions are:

  • What happened on the bus today?
  • How did you feel about riding the bus today?
  • Who do you like to sit with on the bus?
  • Who do you stay away from on the bus?

The buddy system – Have the child sit with a neighbor or friend.
• Have the child being bullied sit on the right front side of the bus. They can be seen in the bus driver’s mirror.

How can the school administrators and bus drivers be involved?
If you feel that more action is necessary, you can contact the school administration and find out what policies are in place for bullying on the school bus. If the school buses have assigned seats, suggest that they separate the children that are being bullied or are bullying others. Also some school buses may have cameras, find out if the child’s bus has a camera that could discourage bullying.

All children deserve to be and feel safe on the bus and at the school. Don’t let a child start their school day off as a victim of bullying. By working to identify and prevent bullying on the bus and at school, they can start and end their school day without fear of being threatened. This will take the joint effort from teachers, parents, bus drivers, and the school administration. It is time to start making a difference, how aware are you?

By Tracy Culbreath
Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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Are You a Target of Workplace Bullying? The Dos and Don’ts

In my prior blog post,  UnderstanWORKPLACE-BULLYING3ding Workplace Bullying: Are you a member of the 28% of Americans who are not aware of workplace bullying?, I provided insight on how to identify bullying in the workplace and its effects on employees.  Through my research, I found many articles suggesting what one might do if this occurs to them or if they witness such an event.  Various articles suggested jotting down each instance as it occurs, evaluating the situation before speaking up, confronting the individual demonstrating bully behaviors, evaluating what you might be doing to provoke the co-worker, rallying witnesses, etc.  Expert or not, your gut instinct might provide insight on some of the dos and don’ts of the situation.



Do Not…

Reach out to someone in authority (Supervisor/Human Resource/Ombuds)

Confront the individual with reactive or aggressive behaviors

Speak with a friend or family member

Isolate yourself

Jot down any and all instances as they occur

Sweep the situation under the rug

Know your company’s policies on incivility

Stay uninformed

Create boundaries with the with the supervisor or coworker who is using these types of behavior

Place blame on yourself or accept the abusive behaviors


By following these suggestions, you are empowered to take action and give yourself tools to manage the stress. By reaching out to those in authority, you are allowing the situation to be handled by an individual trained to handle workplace conflict and bullying behaviors. You are also passing the confident message that your voice will be heard without allowing the situation to get the best of you.

When taking the situation to a third party source, have a detailed notebook that includes: notes of the instance(s) as they occurred, time/place of occurrence, who was there or might have overheard the bullying behavior, and what was said or done.  Providing this information at the minimum will help your supervisor, human resource personnel, or Ombuds to more efficiently research and examine your claims. For additional information on what to do, visit workplacebullying.org.

If you are a witness to workplace bullying, encourage the target to confide in a Supervisor, Human Resource personnel, or Ombuds. You can also offer to help write up the incident you witnessed, and be a listening ear.  Hopefully these tips will help put a stop to workplace bullying.  For additional information on bullying/being a bystander, listen to Dr. Maureen Scully’s talk on Workplace Witnesses: How Bystanders Can Become Essential Allies in Tense Situations.


By Yvette Watson Jenkins

Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program



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Understanding Workplace Bullying

Bullying-StopAre you a member of the 28% of Americans who are not aware of workplace bullying?

 Do you know the signs of workplace bullying? Are you aware of the effect workplace bullying has on its target the workplace, or those who witness? Your questions to workplace bullying are answered here!

Workplace bullying takes place between one person or a group of people who single out another to taunt, harass, make fun of etc.  in the workplace. The key to identifying workplace bullying is that it is persistent and enduring over a period of months. This type of behavior can cause the individuals witnessing such behaviors to feel uncomfortable.  According to workplacebullying.org 27% of Americans have suffered abusive conduct at work.  This is an alarming number.  To prevent this number from increasing and to raise awareness, bullyingstatistics.org provides some ways to identify bullying:

Workplace bullying can take many forms:

  • Shouting or swearing at an employee or otherwise verbally abusing him or her
  • One employee being singled out for unjustified criticism or blame
  • An employee being excluded from company activities or having his or her work or contributions purposefully ignored
  • Language or actions that embarrass or humiliate an employee
  • Practical jokes, especially if they occur repeatedly to the same person

There are also some things that are usually Not considered workplace bullying:

·       A manager who shouts at or criticizes all of his or her employees. While this is a sign of a bad manager and makes a workplace unpleasant, it is not bullying unless only one or a few individuals are being unjustifiably singled out.

·        A co-worker who is critical of everything, always takes credit for successes and passes blame for mistakes, and/or frequently makes hurtful comments or jokes about others. Unless these actions are directed at one individual, they represent poor social skills, but not bullying.

·        Negative comments or actions that are based on a person’s gender, ethnicity, religion, or other legally protected status. This is considered harassment and, unlike bullying, is illegal in the United States and gives the victim legal rights to stop the behavior.

Workplace bullying can have serious negative effects on employees such as:

  • Stress
  • Absenteeism and low productivity
  • Lowered self-esteem and depression
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive upsets
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Isolation from co-workers
  • Trouble with relationships due to stress over work
  • Post traumatic stress disorder

Workplace bullying is a very serious matter and should not be taken lightly. Pay attention to the signs and the effects and be sure to educate those who are unaware to keeps the 28% number from increasing.  

Stayed tuned for next week’s blog for tips on what to do if you witness or become a target of workplace bullying.

By Yvette Watson Jenkins

Graduate Student

University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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No Kidding About Bullying

What fuels bullying? Why do kids bully, and how can we help them stop? On this segment we’ll be providing answers to these questions along with effective tools you can use at home and in schools.

Find out:

– The difference between conflict and bullying
– The number one reason kids bully
– Other factors that can fuel bullying
– How to help kids manage the anger that can lead to bullying
– How to determine if a child or young adult is bullying


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