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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Anti Bullying

With the abuse of school kids so much in the news these days, it’s easy to forget that
another kind of abuse – bullying– is much more prevalent.


With the abuse of school kids so much in the news these days, it’s easy to forget that
another kind of abuse – bullying– is much more prevalent. But here in California, one
young girls’ battle with bullying has helped turn the tide by introducing a new law that
helps fight this abuse.

Fifteen-year-old Tabitha Bowles was once suicidal and for nearly four years she was the
victim of bullying at school. Today she is an inspiration for the “Anti Bullying” bill that
Governor Brown recently signed into a new law.

It all started in sixth grade, when Tabitha was only ten-years-old; but her mom, Isela
noticed the warning signs just in time, and managed to rescue her daughter from possible
suicide attempts.

Yet, Tabitha said she still finds it difficult to erase the past, “I was in total shock, like
what really just happened, I turned around and I saw the girls that were standing there
next to the boy who through the rock at me and they were standing there laughing.”

Tabitha’s ordeal inspired another bullying victim—Assembly Member Mike Eng of San
Gabriel Valley—to take action and battle this issue. Growing up in an immigrant family,
Eng was subject of constant bullying in school—so severe that he still finds it surprising
that he even graduated from high school. “I never thought I would even pass sixth grade.
In my juvenile mind, I thought someone has to come and save me from all of this, but
there was no one.”

According to Eng, a counselor finally noticed the signs and rescued him from the bullies.
Inspired by Tabitha’s experiences he then sponsored this bill to save other victims. Eng
said different schools in California already have programs that address bullying issues;
but he explained how this law would create a uniform approach that promotes “zero
tolerance” for this kind of abuse.“I would like to see programs that involve students to
articulate what it is to look for. Young people will tell you that bullying starts off by very
subtle ways by which the perpetrators are careful of not leaving any marks,” said Eng.

The Law does three things: First, it defines bullying as an abuse. Then, it provides
training for teachers, parents, and students to recognize the symptoms of bullying.
And finally, it allows the victims to be transferred out to another school.“Because too
often the perpetrator is transferred out or suspended, but his or her buddies and gang
members are left behind and will punish the poor victim even worse,” said Eng.

For a long time, Tabitha’s parents tried to get her transferred to a safer school
environment; but it took the passage of this bill to finally accomplish that.“There
were so many people who could have helped us, but refused to. It was beyond my
comprehension, because after all we were talking about a child,” said Isela.

According to Assembly Member Eng one out of three American children is at risk of
being bullied even before they’ve reached the seventh grade. He also said this issue has
much larger social affects.
“This is a child who can be the next president the next scientist who discovers the cure
for cancer, the child who becomes the next governor or legislator; but none of these are
possible, because the only thing the child is thinking about is to stay alive for that day”
said Eng.

With the help of her older sister, Tiffany, Tabitha has now started a foundation to help
support bullying victims. Both sisters recently won an award that recognized their work
as young leaders.

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