CC! President Michael Josephson Delivers Keynote at 2013 National Forum on Character Education (VIDEO)

“CHARACTER COUNTS! founder and president Michael Josephson delivered the closing keynote speech at the 2013 National Forum on Character Education in Washington, D.C., on October 26. In his speech on “Character Education and Beyond,” he discussed the importance of helping young people develop ethical values and what the latest research shows on the most effective ways to do this. CHARACTER COUNTS! trainers also led several breakout sessions during the conference.”

Earlybird Discounts for the National Forum on Character Education

CEP_629pxThe Character Education Partnership’s 2013 National Forum on Character Education starts one month from today! Be sure to register before Sept. 30 to receive the earlybird discount.The event, which takes place in Washington, D.C., Oct. 24-27, will feature CHARACTER COUNTS! President Michael Josephson as one of the keynote speakers. Other speakers include Maurice Elias, Hal Urban, Michele Borba and Tom Lickona.

“Two full days of conference sessions will be held on Oct. 25 and 26, and a variety of outstanding pre-and post-conference workshops and tours will take place Oct. 24 and 27.

CHARACTER COUNTS! training specialists will conduct several of the conference’s learning sessions.”

Register now!


Tus Valores Cuentan celebrates outstanding success

Tus Valores Cuentan Master Trainers, with Josephson Institute founder and president Michael Josephson.

On May 17th, the first Cumbre Tus Valores Cuentan (CHARACTER COUNTS! Summit) convened in Puerto Rico, where government agencies, police departments, sports organizations, and hundreds of schools have adopted CHARACTER COUNTS!.

At the Summit, Healthy Schools Program Director Nilka Vargas and Secretary of Education Dr. Jesús Rivera Sánchez presented many awards to elementary, middle, and high schools, including awards for best murals, best school initiative, best integration of Tus Valores Cuentan into the community, best teamwork demonstrated by school personnel, and exemplary commitment to implementation of the program.*

In her introduction for the “Most Exemplary Commitment by a Director” award, Nilka Vargas said,

These directors provided time and space for the initiative, integrated the Six Pillars of Character into all school procedures (such as in the taking of disciplinary action), allowed their Champions to meet consistently, provided guidance and workshops to parents and others close to the school community, and they were personally involved in all activities and joined others schools in their efforts.

Introducing the “Most Innovative Project” award, Governor Luis G. Fortuño explained,

Maintaining the interest and commitment of children and young people is key to the success of initiatives such as Tus Valores Cuentan. Awakening their natural curiosity is not an easy task, but when it happens the results are truly stunning, and they have a contagious effect on other children and both young and senior members of their communities. This recognition is particularly important for schools nominated, because each of these schools awoke the interest of their students in a project based on The Six Pillars of Character that was innovative, original, and replicable for future students. [Learn more about the stunning results of TVC.]

None of this success would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our partner in Puerto Rico, Camera Mundi International, which conducted the training of our Master Trainers, who then worked tirelessly to get TVC up and running. The master trainers trained the staff in the schools, participated in director trainings, coordinated kick-off events, maintained relationships with schools, and did everything else humanly possible to make sure the program was a success.

Thank you, Camera Mundi and Master Trainers, for all of your hard work. We wish you a happy summer and even greater success next year.

-CC! National Office

* Correction: an earlier version of this story linked to a slideshow of murals, but they were not the murals done by students.

America’s lying problem

Statue of Themis
Image from Wikimedia Commons

We’re in the midst of a lying epidemic, according to James B. Stewart, author of Tangled Webs: How False Statements Are Undermining America: From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff.

Telling the stories of Martha Stewart, Bernie Madoff, Barry Bonds, and “Scooter” Libby, Mr. Stewart explores how and why people at the top of their field deliberately toss trustworthiness out the window.

“Obviously they all thought they had done something wrong, they couldn’t admit it, they were going to hide it, and it was easier to lie and cover it up,” Stewart said in an interview on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Part of the problem is that people can’t bring themselves to admit that they’ve done something wrong. And it seems this sort of lying isn’t exclusive to billionaire entrepreneurs and athletes. Stewart noted in the interview, “[E]very single prosecutor told me that they felt it was an epidemic, that it was out of control. One of them said, ‘Every day I come into work expecting to be lied to….'”

What’s the solution?

“You have to have people being held accountable for breaking the law, and then you have to have encouragement for people who do the right thing,” Stewart said.

But also, telling these cautionary tales, illustrating how tangled up people get in their own webs, can arm us with good sense to admit to our mistakes and honestly face the consequences.

The stories of Madoff, Stewart, Bonds, and Libby all show that lying – to protect your reputation, make money, or preserve your positive self-image – comes out eventually, destroying whatever it is you wanted to save. Lying also tends to destroy the lives of the people around the liar. In the interview, Mr. Stewart recalled that Martha Stewart’s lying shattered the life of the young stock broker’s assistant who got caught up in her scheme.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Related: See CC! President Michael Josephson’s commentary “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

Study shows high school experience is more gloom than glee

Girls bullying another girl

In our recent survey (the largest ever undertaken of the attitudes and conduct of high school students), half of all high school students (50 percent) admit they bullied someone in the past year, and nearly half (47 percent) say they were bullied, teased, or taunted in a way that seriously upset them in the past year. The study reports the responses from 43,321 high school students. The margin of error is less than one percent.

“If the saying, ‘sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never harm me’ was ever true, it certainly is not so today,” said Michael Josephson, founder and president of the Josephson Institute. “Insults, name calling, relentless teasing, and malicious gossip often inflict deep and enduring pain,” he added.

“It’s not only the prevalence of bullying behavior and victimization that’s troublesome. The Internet has intensified the injury. What’s posted on the Internet is permanent, and it spreads like a virus – there is no refuge. The difference between the impact of bullying today versus 20 years ago is the difference between getting into a fist fight and using a gun.”

The study also found that one-third (33 percent) of all high school students say that violence is a big problem at their school, and one in four (24 percent) say they do not feel very safe at school. More than half (52 percent) admit that within the past year they hit a person because they were angry. Ten percent of students say they took a weapon to school at least once in the past 12 months, and 16 percent admit that they have been intoxicated at school.

“The combination of bullying, a penchant toward violence when one is angry, the availability of weapons, and the possibility of intoxication at school increases significantly the likelihood of retaliatory violence,” Josephson said.


What you can do:

Parents: Take our three online surveys to determine whether your child is being bullied, whether your child is a bully, and whether you’re doing all you can to prevent bullying.

Teachers: Book an anti-bullying workshop. Our one-day in-service workshop will teach you how to intervene, combat cyber-bullying, and promote a positive school climate. Learn more>>


Click on the links below to see the press generated by the Ethics of American Youth: 2010 survey. Click here for a more comprehensive list.

USA Today: “Bullying Survey: Most teens have hit someone out of anger”

Chicago Sun-Times: “Half of high schoolers admit bullying someone” Study: Half of high school students admit to bullying

NPR: Study: Half of Teens Admit Bullying in Last Year A Glimmer of Hope in Bad-News Survey About Bullying

Los Angeles Times Blog: Survey shows technology worsening teen bullying

San Francisco Chronicle: Study: Half of teens admit bullying in last year

Washington Post: The Answer Sheet: Are we raising a generation of bullies? “Half Of Teens Report Being Bullied In New Study”

The Canadian Press: National study: Half of high schoolers admit bullying in last year

Education Week: Half of U.S. Teens Admit Bullying in Last Year

The New York Times, Opinion by Charles M. Blow: Private School Civility Gap 

Count on 2 News, WCBD TV, Charleston, SC: “Feds tackle school bullying” (Video:)

Today Show: Bullying: Just a part of growing up? (Video:)

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams: DOE Bears Down on Bullying (Video:)