Anti-Bullying Book – BOR Award Winner

Jan 6, 2014 by

Bully Cover-1Author, MaryAnn Milton Butterfield, has been selected to receive the Bill of Responsibilities Award for her recently published book, You Are Too a Bully!

Ms. Butterfield handles the very important subject of bullying in a creative, insightful, and entertaining manner. In addition to the compelling story, the book includes an Anti-Bullying Code of Conduct and a list of questions to help children and parents identify what is – and what is not – bullying.  Whether you’re interested in this subject as a child, a parent, a teacher or school administrator, this book provides valuable tools that can be used immediately to bring bullying out in the open where it can be stopped.

“An Anti-Bullying Program must engage the students and parents, in addition to teachers and administrators,” Ms. Butterfield points out. “Five-year-olds are expected to begin learning immediately in kindergarten, and today’s time constraints limit the emphasis teachers can put on much needed social skills. Without these basic tools, many children do not know how to deal with normal childhood aggression and may respond inappropriately, or they may become victims of bullying.”

In addition to her book, Ms. Butterfield provides FREE pdf downloadable material at for schools and organizations to create their own Anti-Bullying Program.

Born and raised in Greenfield, Massachusetts, Ms. Butterfield currently resides with her husband in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where she penned, You Are Too a Bully!


The Bill of Responsibilities Award acknowledges people, products, programs and ideas that inspire us to take responsibility for creating a better world for ourselves, our families, our communities and our planet. Awards are given out on a case-by-case basis, and we are proud to turn visitors to this site on to this fine book.


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Just Love Him, I Guess – BOR Award Winner

Jan 2, 2014 by

Just-Love-Him-front-coverWilliam is a good little boy but, like most little ones, he often does things that frustrate his parents. Sometimes his parents do things that frustrate William too. Written in rhyme with beautiful illustrations, Just Love Him, I Guess demonstrates that when parents overcome frustration with unconditional love, kids follow their example.

This book communicates, in a loving and entertaining way, the importance of unconditional love. The book’s design and illustrations are first rate. The one thing that shines through every page is how much love the author has for her son. But then, just look at the cover: How could you not love the little guy?

beth picBeth Whittenbury likes to “inspire with my writing.” She is a lawyer by training and a mother in practice. She writes on a wide range of subjects and has published four law-related, non-fiction books, along with numerous articles in both peer-reviewed law journals and trade magazines.

Beth also writes legal textbooks, commercial non-fiction, picture books, and hopes to soon start publishing legal thrillers. You can learn more about her legal articles on her law-related website, You can also follow her author’s blog at


The Bill of Responsibilities Award acknowledges people, products, programs and ideas that inspire us to take responsibility for creating a better world for ourselves, our families, our communities and our planet. Awards are given out on a case-by-case basis, and we are proud to turn visitors to this site on to this fine book.


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People who take responsibility

Dec 2, 2013 by

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Getting Real about Personal Responsibility

Oct 28, 2013 by

cheyanne and momThe Teen Bill of Responsibilities Course has been offered in several Los Angeles schools for nearly ten years. This most recent class was taught by Connie Bessman-Natt and was not without its unique challenges, including dealing with the emotions of having a classmate murdered this spring.

“As a single parent it’s my job to show my daughter what’s right and what’s wrong.”

Rebekah and grandmother“The world is not a friendly place.”

Stephen Smoke, the author of the FREE course (available to any teacher as a FREE PDF DOWNLOAD on this site) worked with Connie to tweak the course wording to make it more meaningful to students and responsive to their needs.

In fact, Stephen sat in on a few of the classes. “One thing that was different about this particular class is that it was ‘opt-in.’ That is, it was offered at a college campus near a couple of high schools, and participating students signed up and received special credit for completing the class. Several of the students’ parents and grandparents brought them to every class. To me, that shows a special commitment – on the part of the student and the parent or guardian – to do the things important to succeed. Clearly, to them, personal responsibility is important.”

Shortly after the class was completed, Connie and some of the students (as well as a few of the parents and grandparents who watched — or participated in — the class) were interviewed. This video was produced and edited by Ken Hanada, with the help of Hiroshi Igaki. Ken is the producer of “Pursuit of Loneliness” (an official 2012 Sundance Film Festival Selection). The photographs in this post are lifted from the video.

grandfather“Now in most cases, you’ve got both parents working. Kids have lots of free time on their hands. They need supervision.”

In their comments, the viewer senses an unmistakable commitment to the fundamentals of a successful life. “As I watched the video,” explains Stephen Smoke, “I got the feeling that something separates these students from the crowd. A large part of what separates them from their peers – besides their own commitment to succeed – is the commitment and support of key authority figures in their lives. Also, the elements of love and mutual respect are on display in the video. These elements are often taken for granted, or actually missing from too many relationships.”

connie 1“The Bill of Responsibilities Course will help you become a better teacher.”

The Teen Bill of Responsibilities Course

The Teen Bill of Responsibilities Course is a 6-part course that can be taught in one day, over a number of days, or one lesson per week over a 6-week period. Each lesson deals with a different aspect of personal responsibility and each lesson builds on the previous lesson.

bor rd dsThe course is taught using a combination of teaching methods: the Socratic Method and Guided Discussion. In this course, the views of the teacher – and the author, for that matter – are irrelevant to the students’ learning experiences. Questions are asked and students’ answers are acknowledged but not judged. That is, there are no “wrong” answers. All the experiences discussed are the students’ experiences, and all realizations and conclusions reached about the idea of personal responsibility will be the students’ own.

Even though teachers are instructed not to make judgments about students’ answers, that doesn’t mean the course teaches that making a judgment is wrong. On the contrary – part of taking personal responsibility is the ability to understand that rights are linked to responsibilities and that people are accountable for their actions. When the student understands this, in his own terms, the student begins to cultivate and exhibit better judgment in determining his own actions.



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A Song About War Worth Your Attention

Oct 1, 2013 by

Barry Keenan3Barry Keenan

(A regular feature on the Bill of Responsibilities website is acknowledging people’s products and behavior that we believe deserves recognition.)

Barry Keenan is a well-known and critically-acclaimed LA singer/songwriter. His song “Our Comfortable Lives” is a tribute to the men and women in the military who sacrifice their comfort so that we may preserve our own. Sometimes our comfort insulates us from the contributions made by others. Sometimes to the point that those contributors become invisible.

Barry’s song has touched tens of thousands of people. It was the #1 song on Neil Young’s “Living With War Today” website for 62 weeks in a row and currently ranks #1 again. This fact says a lot about the song’s power because the site ranks the popularity of more than 3000 songs.

The song was published this year in a French textbook that included the lyrics of Woody Guthrie, Eminem, Paul Stookey, Tom Paxton, Pete Seeger, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ray Davies, Freddi Mercury, among many others.

BOR musicDespite his rock star appearance and being the author of a “war protest song,” Keenan, the father of three, ranging from 8 to 19, is not easily labeled politically. “While I believe the government is responsible for its actions, I also believe each individual is responsible for his or her actions as well. I also believe that parents are responsible for their children. There will come a time when my kids are responsible for their own actions. Until then I do my best to provide them the best tools with which to build a good life. Today more than ever children need parents to be parents. Parents influence their children’s behavior, whether they intend to or not. For me, being a parent–being there for my kids–is the most important thing I do.”

Our Comfortable Lives

I saw a man wounded/The physical kind
He had shrapnel in his head/It severed his mind
It’s so terrible war/People suffer and die
While we go on living/Our comfortable lives

 Now the folks on the hill/Have their cocktails at eight
The finest of food/Is served on their plate
They dine and decide/Your future and fate
You have to be special/To get through their gate

For thousands of years/We can’t get it right
We torture and maim/And kill when we fight
It’s a terrible war/People suffer and die
While we go on living/Our comfortable lives

 I think a cease fire/Would serve us all well
It’s time to bring peace/And love to this hell
Death after death/It’s the toll of the knell
It’s time we start ringing/The new freedom bell

 I saw a man wounded/The psychological kind
He had hate in his head/And death on his mind
It’s a terrible war/The innocent die
While we go on living/Our comfortable lives

“Doing radio for so long, I have heard some of the best songwriters.
This is a well-crafted song, written by a brilliant songwriter.”
- Roz Larman, Host/Producer, FolkScene Radio, July 2010
“Barry–very powerful, and moving too!”
- Drey Samuelson, Chief of Staff for US Senator Tim Johnson
“The song is great! If it can only be played in every language and in every country in the world!”
- Michael CY Tsang
“This song is the most relevant social song for this or any other war generation that I’ve heard.”
- Gene Herd
“The lyrics are very powerful and timeless. This song moves my soul and makes me proud to be an American.”
- Michelle Williams

Click here to hear the song


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Teen Bill Of Responsibilities Course in LA

Sep 2, 2013 by

connie4As the teacher of the The Teen Bill of Responsibilities class, I can say that students learn the difference between rights and responsibilities. They understand that they do not have the right to do anything they want, and that more rights come with more responsibilities. Sharing their own experiences about responsibilities at home, in school, in their communities, with family and friends, has been eye opening for students and this teacher.

One of the good things about the class discussions is that there are no right or wrong answers. This does NOT mean there is no such thing as a right or wrong thing to do. The “no right or wrong answer” policy simply allows students to open up, freely, without fear of offering an incorrect answer. Students feel free to discuss what personal responsibility really means to them. Their answers are helpful to themselves as well as to one another. They have learned that responsible teens attend school daily, unless there is an emergency. Responsible teens complete classroom assignments and work hard to make good grades. Responsible teens demonstrate good behavior at home, at school and in the community. Responsible teens often look at themselves as good role models to other teens. I think that the general discussion of their personal responsibilities inspires self-confidence, motivation and self-esteem.

I believe that students enjoy the discussion about responsibilities when it comes to the family because they rely on their families for so much. One student said that she realized one of her responsibilities to her family, was to “do my best to succeed in school.”

Many students said they understand they should complete their chores at home. They understand the family structure and how important it is to them. They know that their families are responsible for them and they expressed appreciation and gratitude during the class discussion. They know their parents or guardians have more responsibilities than they do and as students they also know that they are not ready to take on those responsibilities at this time.

All the students in the class participated in the discussion about responsibilities to school and friends. They understand that they have to be more responsible in school to be able to succeed academically.

As a teacher, I know how very important it is to have responsible students in the classroom, because more instruction takes place instead of disruption.

BOR award gdThe issue of school safety was discussed because students can focus more clearly in a safe environment. Schools have responsibilities to students such as providing a quality education and safe campuses. Students have responsibilities to schools such as not endangering other students and not being disruptive.

Overall, the Teen Bill of Responsibilities class is a wonderful class where students learn how to stay on track, focus, and remain responsible. These life lessons learned help students differentiate themselves from the crowd.

I really love teaching this class to help teens become more responsible to their families, schools, communities and friends. I am also learning from the students through the discussions.

The parents are happy to drive their teens to the class (which takes place after school) and some even sit in the class with the students. They have expressed to me how important the Teen Bill of Responsibilities class is for their teens because it helps keep them on track.

Connie Bessman-Natt


Los Angeles Unified School District


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