If you are the parent of a child who has reported to you or you have heard from someone else that they are being teased, threatened, tormented, or see signs of physical harm, you may feel this topic is not discussed enough. Bullying has been around for a long time and for many years accepted as a right of passage.
You are bound to have problems with students when you take a mix of personalities, cultures and disabilities and expect them all to work together for a long period of time in the same place. But, the issue is when parents address their concern with school officials and they are blown off or advised that is is not the school’s issue to manage or deal with. What do you do when you have contacted the school and continue to be ignored and not taken seriously or worse when the aggressor involved is related or in close relationship circles with the administrators and staff and they are protected?
Many feel bullying has reached a new level we have not seen before. It is happening to kids in every social economic class, race, disability and age. Sometimes the victims feel they have nowhere to turn and unfortunately make the decision to end their lives. Recent cases have shown that schools are excused by law from responsibility of student’s safety from bullies while in school.
A Pennsylvania district was taken to federal court for a civil rights lawsuit. Parents of a young lady claimed that the school did not protect her from another student who had attacked her multiple times and had even been convicted of assault against her, put on probation and adjudicated as a delinquent.
The parents were told they could enroll their daughter in another school and the case was dismissed because Pennsylvania law is written in a way that protects districts from responsibility of keeping the child safe while at school.
Recent social media has helped create a new world for the bullies to exploit their victims. Cyberbullying allows kids to continue the harassment even when they are no longer face to face. Many students have a cell phone and the capability to film anything they choose. In a case from Beaver County, Pennsylvania, one teen recently attacked another teen on school grounds while friends recorded the fight on their phone. They then posted it to You Tube. The full story is on Beaver Countian.com at http://beavercountian.com/content/daily/teen-in-youtube-beating-case-found-guilty. The teen was found guilty of aggravated assault.
You will find this is an issue in many schools all around the world from the US to the Australia. A story that has spread quickly across the internet is about a boy who was relentlessly tormented by another student and finally had enough and fought back. Millions of people reacted by cheering for this young man for standing up to his bully.
Pop culture icon, Justin Beiber invited Casey on his tour as a VIP guest and shared his story of also being a victim of bullies when he was younger. He honored the boy as a hero and an inspiration to kids everywhere.
The current state of this issue leaves parents afraid to send their kids into an environment that they are not safe. Also, many schools have no tolerance policies that backfire by punishing the victim with suspension for fighting back and defending themselves. Some kids feel they do not have an outlet to stop the torment with fear of retaliation if they report it.
Many parents have reported they are choosing cyber schools or traditional home-school as an alternative for their kids after not getting a resolution from school districts. Parents on the Asperger’s and ADHD educational Facebook page http://on.fb.me/oZWZ8U have reported great success with home schooling and say it is the safe environment where kids can learn bully free. Parents then organize and participate in structured co-ops or activities where their children can socialize. But what about the families who cannot choose this option due to financial situations? They must continue to send their children into these environments every day. Changing to a private school is not always affordable for families.
Finally, there are schools are taking some action but parents feel it is not enough. Football players in one district decided to play a prank on a young man and it quickly turned into an intimidation and bullying situation when the young victim declined their invitation to try their drink being offered. The young men on the team all new that one of their teammates had urinated in the bottle. None of young men stepped in to stop it. The mother and her community are sharing they want everyone involved punished severely. Only one of the players was placed on a 10 day suspension.
How can schools hide behind laws and allow themselves to basically condone this type of behavior by not offering severe penalties to students such as immediate expulsion or placement in an alternative school until any issues the bully has have been resolved? Why are the victims expected to leave their school and disrupt their lives to be safe? Why are we making them victims twice?
If this type of conduct or treatment occurred at a job or other place of business the offender would be fired. There needs to be change in laws that apply to school violence and bullying. Our kids need to feel safe while they learn. Parents need assurance that if something does occur, the school will place the right consequence to make sure it never happens again and not re-victimize their children.