About the BiasHELP Program
BiasHELP is a program dedicated to prevention of bias crimes, hate-related harassment, bullying, technobullying/cyberbullying and discrimination. Located on Long Island, BiasHELP provides programs and services locally, regionally and nationally. BiasHELP considers an action to be discriminatory when a person or group is targeted, in whole or in part, because of their perceived differences, including race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation.
BiasHELP’s programs include prevention education, community and school-based technical assistance, support of aggressive public policies that ensure human rights protections and effective media responses to current social issues.
Studies show that between 15–25 percent of U.S. students are bullied with some frequency ("sometimes or more often") while 15–20 percent report that they bully others with some frequency. (Melton et al., 1998; Nansel et al., 2001)
By age 24, 60 percent of people who were childhood bullies have at least one criminal conviction. People who continue to bully have many other problems as adults who show more alcoholism, antisocial personality disorders and need for mental health services. (www.bullying.org)
It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. (National Education Association)
A recent report from the American Medical Association on a study of over 15,000 6th-10th graders estimates that approximately 3.7 million youths engage in, andmore than 3.2 million are victims of, moderate or serious bullying each year. (www.nasponline.org)
Nine out of ten middle school students have had their feelings hurt online. (www.dosomething.org)
Playground school bullying statistics - Every 7 minutes a child is bullied. Adult intervention - 4%. Peer intervention - 11%. No intervention - 85%. (www.howtostopbullying.com)
Hate Crimes, Bias Incidences and Community Activism
NY Times - 5/9/97: “Student stabs classmate based on his faith”
- A 16-year-old showed up at Smithtown High School with some gasoline, a makeshift fuse and bottle, planning to assemble a homemade bomb. The plot failed when the gasoline spilled on the floor of the school bathroom. The 16 year old stabbed his 15-year old victim in the stomach while shouting anti-Semitic epithets.
NY Times - 10/19/97: “Soaring Bias Crimes on Long Island”
- Police reported that 161 hate or bias crimes were reported in the year 1996 which was up from 120 in 1995. Det. Gary Shapiro reported that the number rose sharply in the last three months of the year and reported if the trend continues, Bias crimes would increase 36 percent this year (1997).
NY Times - 10/13/98: “Outrage and Debate over death of Matthew Shepard”
- Matthew Shepard, the college student who was kidnapped, robbed and pistol whipped for being gay died. The announcement of his death fanned outrage, spawning vigils while also producing calls for Federal hate-crimes legislation from President Clinton and fueling debates over such laws in a host of Western states.
NY Blade News - 11/13/98: “Bias Crimes worry Long Island residents”
- After receiving numerous complaints from local activists during the last month, Suffolk County Police Department reclassified an assault on a woman who was beaten with a bat as a bias-related crime. The victim was leaving Newfield High School when two men with a baseball bat said, “Kill the lesbian” and proceeded to hit her in the stomach with the bat. The victim reported she was then picked up and slammed into the pavement until she was unconscious.
3/11/99: “LIAAC and BiasHELP launch websites aimed at HIV/AIDS and bias crimes”
- The Long Island Association for AIDS Care (LIAAC) and BiasHELP of Long Island joined forces to launch websites aimed at HIV/AIDS and bias crimes. The sites, www.liaac.org and www.biashelp.org, provide comprehensive information about both issues and outline supportive services offered by both Island-wide non-profits.
Newsday - 9/3/99: “Racial Beating outside of Centereach Pub”
- The racial slurs started the minute a black man walked into a Centereach bar but soon the taunts exploded into a riot that ended with a white mob chasing down and beating the black marine and a white friend. Police arrested three Centereach residents, two men and a woman on bias-related charges.
Newsday - 9/7/99: “Swastikas scarred Dawnwood Middle School Windows”
- Vandals carved more than 70 Swastikas into the classroom windows of Dawnwood Middle School in Centereach. The incident marks the third bias crime in the area in recent weeks, prompting defensive anger from local residents and frustration from school. Teachers are meeting to determine how to incorporate the vandalism into classroom discussion.
BiasBeat Spring - 2000: “BiasHELP: Hijacking hate on the internet”
- Discovering their availability in January, BiasHELP reserved the domain names of several inactive websites that promote hate such as, swastikas.com, klansmen.com and crossburning.com. The organization hopes to prevent names from being used for websites that promote hate and hopes to spread its message of non-violence as broadly as possible on the World Wide Web.
Newsday - 2/14/00: “Bias crime beating based on perceived sexual orientation”
- A former Bay Shore High School student was beaten for being perceived as gay. The victim was severely beaten by four men who repeatedly shouted gay epithets at the victim. An 18 year old male turned himself into detectives of the Suffolk Bias Crime Unit and was charged with third degree assault and could face up to a year in prison.
Newsday - 9/2/00: “Teens target immigrant in Glen Cove killing”
- A 23 year old Glen Cove father of two was found murdered by a blow to the head. The victim was targeted by high school students as they felt he was an immigrant and would be less likely to report being robbed to authorities. Two students of Glen Cove High School were arrested and charged with second degree murder.
Newsday - 9/19/00: “Day workers beaten in bias attack”
- Two Mexican day laborers from Farmingville were brutally beaten by two white men who lured them with the promise of work to an abandon warehouse in a desolate industrial park. The workers, both undocumented immigrants, were picked up and taken to the building in Shirley.
Newsday: “Stabbing at Huntington High School”
- What appeared to be a minor altercation at first, turned ugly when two students engaged in a fist fight that led to a stabbing. A 17 year old male stabbed a freshman as they struggled in the schools hallways. The motive for the stabbing is unknown, but according to a close friend of the 17 year old male, Puerto Rican students often make fun of Salvadorian immigrants who do not speak English well.
Newsday - 11/17/00: “Roommate arrested under new Hate Crimes Law for attack on Gay victim”
- In the first arrest on Long Island under the new state hate crimes bill, a Central Islip man has been charged with attacking his roommate because of his sexual orientation. Police began to investigate the halfway house after being contacted by BiasHELP, Inc. The alleged victim, who is openly gay and a cross dresser, opted to contact BiasHELP as he feared officers would treat him poorly and not take him seriously.
CNET News - 1/3/01: “Yahoo banning auctions of Nazi and KKK related items”
- Yahoo announced that it will no longer allow the sale of items that promote hate groups in its auctions, classifieds and other commerce areas. To enforce the ban, Yahoo said it will use software to comb for objectionable material and employ a team of workers to review listings.
DiversityInc.com - 5/4/01: “KKK goods banned on eBay”
- Ebay, the online auction giant, unveiled a new policy that will ban the sale of goods that carry a Ku Klux Klan or Nazi insignia, or otherwise “promote” or glorify hatred, racial intolerance or racial violence. Ebay announced it would expand an existing ban on the sale of “murder” memorabilia, including artwork and letters written by someone of the century’s most horrific criminals.
Newsday - 8/15/01: “BiasHELP acquires domain names in effort to eliminate hate on the web”
- Terms like “swastika” and “gay bashing” were not only posted on dozens, if not hundreds of sites, they were also part of the addresses of the Web sites devoted to the kinds of groups who organizations such as BiasHELP tries to neutralize. BiasHELP decided to buy the domain names of those sites and redirect the traffic that these sites would generate to BiasHELP’s own website. It’s a move with the hopes of funneling an unlikely segment of web surfers to BiasHELP’s message of tolerance and change the way some people think.
biasBeat Summer - 2002: “BiasHelp partners with PUSH to prevent youth violence and bias related attacks”
- PUSH’s mission was to unite those who serve Long Island youth to prevent youth violence and bias-related crimes. The partnership brought multiple factions together whose missions were to reduce youth violence across the board on Long Island. BiasHELP put together a well-coordinated effort to bring all of these groups together that included, community organizations, facilities dealing with law enforcement, human services, educational and religious establishments.
NY Post - 9/25/03: “Bias attack at East Islip HS left two Hispanic brothers injured”
- Police are investigating a bias crime at East Islip High School that left two brothers injured after an attack by a group of white teens spouting anti-Hispanic epithets. The brothers who were assaulted were from Colombia and police were considering charges of third-degree assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment as a hate crime but no arrests have been made. Police were investigating to make sure no other students were involved.
NY Times - 7/13/04: “Sihk leader attacked in bias assault”
- A Long Island man was charged with a hate crime in the beating of Sikh man who is a spiritual leader in New York City. The man charged was one of several people involved in the confrontation of the Sikh leader who was punched and kicked into unconsciousness. Disparaging remarks were made about the turban being worn which in turn caused an altercation between some Sikhs who responded angrily to the remarks and a group of men who began assaulting the Sikhs outside of a catering hall in Queens.
NY Times - 11/22/04: “Burning Cross left at Lake Grove home of interracial couple”
- An interracial couple peered out the front window of their Long Island home and saw a cross burning on the front lawn. Detective Sgt. Reecks said the police are investigating the incident as a hate crime but there were no suspects. It was the county’s first cross burning since 1998 when a black family in Amityville returned home from church and found a cross burning on their lawn.
NY Daily News - 12/28/05: “Vandalization of Baldwin Menorah called Bias Crime”
- Police were treating the vandalizing of an 8 foot tall menorah as a bias crime. A vandal removed and smashed all nine light bulbs from the menorah and ripped out the electrical cord. It was the second year in a row that the Chanukah decoration, made of plastic was targeted.
biasBeat Spring - 2006: “Pulling the plug on Cyberbullies”
- Youth can cyberbully each other through emails, instant messaging, texting, digital images on cell phones, blogs, chat rooms etc. BiasHELP, Inc. incorporated cyberbullying information and helpful tips to prevent cyberullying from taking place into its Anti-Violence programs. Things parents can do to prevent or address the problem of cyberbullying include, keeping your home computer in visible areas, talking with your children about cyberbullying, the harmful effects of it and encourage them to tell you if they are a victim of cyberbullying.
NY Times - 10/7/07: “Rise in Long Island Anti-Jewish Crimes”
- The number of bias crimes that took aim at Jewish people has risen much faster since 2005 than the number of other bias crimes. Hate crimes have been increasing as 53 bias crimes against Jews were reported in Nassau through the month of September, after 73 in all of 2006 and 28 in 2005. The number of anti-Jewish crimes stood at 26 in Suffolk through July after rising to a total of 35 for 2006 from 25 in 2005. The number of anti-Jewish crimes grew by 35 percent in Nassau and by 15 percent in Suffolk compared to last years statistics.
NY Times - 11/20/08: “Teenagers violent “sport” led to killing of Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero”
- November 8th was a particularly long and violent day as a group of 7 students taunted and surrounded an Ecuadorian immigrant just shortly before midnight near Patchogue train station. Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant tried to fight back but one of the youths fatally stabbed him. Marcelo was 37 year old, working at a dry cleaning store and a 16 year resident of the United States who regularly sent money to his ailing mother in Ecuador.
biasBeat - 2008: “BiasHELP launches FAST program in Brentwood”
- BiasHELP joined forces with Brentwood South Middle School to pilot FAST (Families and Schools Together). BiasHELP is reaching an underserved population of at-risk girls and their families in a proactive and comprehensive way that addresses key risk factors for violence. Each FAST workshop session included several activates designed to enhance family communication and bonding.
NY Times - 10/21/09: “Ryan White Care Act sails through the House and is Reauthorized”
- The House overwhelmingly passed legislation allocating billions of dollars in federal money for treatment of HIV and AIDS. By a vote of 408-9, the House reauthorized the Ryan White Care Act, first enacted in 1990 and named after the Indiana teenager who died of AIDS. The Senate has already passed the bill by unanimous consent, meaning the legislation heads to the desk of President Obama, whose administration has indicated strong support for it.
CNN.com Politics - 10/28/09: “Obama signs hate crimes bill to protect LGBT individuals from assault”
- President Obama signed into law a bill that makes it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. The hate crimes measure was named for Matthew Shepard, a gay teen who died after being beaten in October 1998 and James Byrd Jr., and African American man dragged to death in Texas the same year. Obama hailed the hate crimes measure in the bill as a step toward change to “help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love and how they pray.”
Community Voices - 4/10: “BiasHELP brings unity and respect to communities through A VOICE Project”
- AVoice is working to foster unity and respect in these communities by making an impact among vulnerable youth and their families. Such programs include bringing diverse families and their children together to participate in a multiple session workshop entitled, “Family Voices”. Families and youth come together to learn about stereotyping, bullying, cyberbullying, cultural diversity and prejudicial behaviors in a friendly and professional environment. Professionals from local agencies, including youth-serving agencies are provided with trainings in areas of stereotyping, hate crimes and racial healing, as well as technical assistance in creating/modifying existing policies regarding discrimination/diversity. BiasHELP will continue implementing AVOICE in the Patchogue Medford area in an effort to reduce bias related violence.
6/22/10: “The Dignity for All Students Act is passed in the New York State Assembly”
- By implementing the Dignity for All Students Act, NYS Education Law requires schools to adopt policies to make schools harassment and discrimination free environments, inform students and parents of anti-discrimination and harassment policies, develop guidelines for training programs for school staff and incorporate character education into the curricula. BiasHELP, Inc. is excited about the passing of the Dignity for All Students Act as it gives the organizations an opportunity to work with students through the education system to combat discrimination & harassment, as well as continue the battle against cyberbullying.
ABC.com - 10/14/10: “Teen perceived gay attacked in Hicksville”
- Three teenagers were under arrest after the beating of a 14 year old boy on a school bus on Long Island. The victims only crime was the three teenagers thought he was gay. The young person was subjected to bullying on a routine basis. This incident is just the latest in a spate of similar cases involving anti-gay bias.
Community Voices - 3/11: “The rise of Bullying and Technobullying”
- Many case of bullying/cyberbullying have led to disastrous consequences for the victims, ranging from withdrawal from school, depression and suicide. BiasHELP believes that individuals, families, schools and communities need to protect the lives and rights of youth through bullying awareness and prevention. In response, BiasHELP has created the website www.stopbullying.org which provides helpful resources for parents and youth and has integrated the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program into the agency’s array of Violence Prevention Programming available to schools.
Community Voices - 3/11: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell set to end in 2011”
- History was made on 12/22/12 when President Obama signed into law a bill that repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. This law restricted the US military from asking about or revealing the sexuality of service members, and prohibits openly gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals from serving.
Community Voices - Fall 2011: “NYS passed Marriage Equality Act”
- On June 24th 2011, New York lawmakers voted and successfully passed the Marriage Equality Act which grants same sex couples the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. The decision passed 33-29 in the Senate and the bill was given the ability to pass through the consent of 4 Senators who expressed their desire to vote for civil rights. The passing of the Marriage Equality Act can create a bipartisan effort to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and make sure that the federal government protects all families and protects all marriages.
Community Voices - Spring 2012: “New bill in NYS to target cyberbullying”
- While schools are typically the first line of defense regarding cyberbullying, the law is also making strides in combating cyberbullying behaviors. The proposed bill that originated in New York State Senate increases the penalty for bullying/cyberbullying from a misdemeanor to felony status. It adds provisions to education law which prohibits bullying and cyberbullying on school property and at school functions. Laws like these would help to create a culture within schools, communities and among youth which takes cyberbullying seriously.