JerseyMan Magazine

Ken Dunek, Former Eagle turned Publisher, has created Jersey Man Magazine geared toward elite businessmen in the community.   Ken covers what matters to men in New Jersey – and preventing bullying and violence matters.  Jersey Man writer Nicole Pensiero wrote about Clique In and our journey toward providing schools real solutions needed to reform bullying and violence.  Here is an excerpt of the article:

Four years ago, South Jersey resident Gail Murphy – a mother of two sons and a skilled attorney – gave up her career in law to focus on something she believes has a huge impact on the lives of its victims, its perpetrators and society at   large: childhood bullying.

“Bullying isn’t something that exists in a vacuum, just within the confines of a school playground,” the articulate businesswoman says.

“Ultimately, it impacts our society in ways that people can’t even imagine.  Studies show every business and taxpayer pays a high price of

bullying in real dollars in lost production, and an increase in drug abuse and mental health costs.”

Murphy knows first-hand the emotional turmoil bullying can have on an individual young person. A few years ago, she became aware that her then grade-school age older son was being bullied at school. He was hesitant to tell her about what was going on, and when he finally did, Murphy says she “initially didn’t understand the magnitude of what happening until he began showing systems of the pain he was feeling.”

To respect the privacy of her son, Murphy does not disclose what these symptoms were. However, she advises that parents should pay attention to changes in their children’s behavior, noting many bullied students will begin missing school, start experiencing physical symptoms — such as headaches, stomach aches or throwing up — suffer with stress, anxiety, and depression or experience a drop in grades.

“SOME CHILDREN ARE SO EMBARRASSED BY THE SITUATION THEY DO NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE TALKING WITH ANYONE ABOUT THE ISSUES,”

MURPHY SAID, ADDING THAT”THE HORRIFYING REALITY IS THAT SOME PARENTS DO NOT REALIZE THE MAGNITUDE OF THE PROBLEM UNTIL THEIR CHILD HAS COMMITTED SUICIDE.”

In her son’s case, the bullying occurred in a school district “where it was made clear that this kind of thing wasn’t acceptable, but still, it kept happening,” she recalled. Well-versed in research from her years as an attorney – Murphy had worked in both private practice and later as the in-house counsel for an insurance company—she began her own fact-finding mission as she came to understand the limitations of remedying the problem through the school. Researching what American public schools have at their disposal to combat bullying — and what they don’t – Murphy became convinced that “there needs to be more assistance” offered to schools to bolster their anti-bullying efforts. “They have been given a lot of responsibility for managing the behavior of kids, but how can they manage this without better resources?” she said.

“I started this organization with the perspective that legislators and school administrators have been working hard to make change. At this point, 49 out of 50 states have passed legislation requiring schools to take action against bullying,” Murphy notes, adding that “New Jersey is one of the most progressive, and requires extensive reporting requirements, training and school-wide anti-bullying programs. There are many great programs, she notes, including those which provide faculty training and assemblies with guest speakers. And while one-time assemblies can inspire some, [they] are not likely to transform behavior in an ongoing manner” Murphy said, adding that her own son was “actually bullied leaving an anti-bullying presentation at his school.”

But despite these efforts, we aren’t seeing adequate improvement. Murphy believes that even the best programs cannot succeed without a means to accurately assess the impact it has on student:

Do the students and teachers participate continually? Do they understand and display program principals?

Can we identify the students that need assistance?

At this point we can clearly identify the students that exhibit bad behavior.

But what about the student’s that are suffering in silence?

How can we identify them before tragedy happens?

Kid’s that commit suicide or become school shooters are suffering long before they commit these tragic acts, and they aren’t necessarily the kids that attract school administrators’ attention because of their negative behavior.

We must provide schools with resources that won’t let these children slip through the cracks.”

Clique In provides tools to support programs using principals of a Positive Behavior Support (PBS) approach — a leading strategy used in behavior reform programs nationwide – that encourages non-punitive, proactive and systematic techniques to teach, reward and support appropriate behaviors. Clique In takes that approach a step further, Murphy says, integrating the type of tools offered to “Corporate America” that include real-time monitoring of behaviors and ongoing motivation for students to learn, understand and demonstrate specific behaviors such as empathy, tolerance, and respect for others.

Corporations understand the importance of motivating their employees to achieve and maintain desired results, and they invest billions of dollars annually in the infrastructure to do it, because it works. Yet, we do not provide these types of solutions for our schools. Why? It makes no sense. It costs the United States far more to treat the symptoms associated with bullying annually, than it does to build motivational systems for our schools.

There is an awful lot of finger pointing going on with regard to the declining quality of American education. But how can students focus on learning amidst the atmosphere of fear?

It is time we start investing in the solutions to prevent behavioral problems rather than throw money at the symptoms after the fact.

It is our goal to bring these tools to schools. Creating comprehensive behavior modification systems is the essence of our organization. We aren’t just designing a program, we are providing an entire ongoing behavior motivation system to ensure that students have every opportunity to learn and grow into the individuals they were meant to become, without fear of the humiliation and shame of bullying.

… Cliqued In implemented a pilot program in the Margate City school district, involving all 353 students in the third through 8th grades.…The pilot proved the ability to measure, monitor and motivate an entire schools’ performance of positive behavior.

Now, Clique In is working with leaders in the area of business, technology and school administration to provide schools with automated, scalable systems allowing many schools to utilize these tools simultaneously.

“We’re developing a platform that allows schools effective, affordable technology that they can use for the long haul to create a positive environment,” Murphy said, adding that the organization’s vision is “absolutely achievable.”

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Ultimately, she says, she hopes the organization can make a lasting impact on the lives of young people: “I’m hopeful that we can make a shift by associating the concept of ‘power’ with empowering someone, rather than overpowering someone.”

FOR THE FULL VERSION OF THE STORY VISIT:

CLIQUE IN AND JERSEY MAN