Be A Hero…Stop A Bully

anti-bullying-500x294

By: Kathryn Crigger

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

  • StopBullying.gov’s definition of bullying

Schools often talk about how bad bullying is, but what can a student do when the school does not help them? School administrators tend to avoid dealing with bullying for as long as possible, sometimes not dealing with the problem for months on end. Let me present a hypothetical situation to reinforce my opinion, a student goes up to an administrator several times seeking help, they are told that the situation will be handled, and it soon became evident that the student’s definition of handled and the administrators definition of handled varied greatly, and the bully received a slap on the wrist.

Some schools around the country even go to the extent of defending the bully. Most would think that if a student slaps another ( unprovoked ), that the school would do something, however, that is not what always happens. Most times it feels like the victim of the bullying shoulders some of the blame.

If schools nationwide speak out against bullying so much, why do they not “really” do anything about it? Sure, “kids will be kids”, but when a student feels harassed should the schools not do something to solve the problem in a timely manner.  There are students all across the United States that face fear head on every day when they attend school, and it is time that educators figure out how to remedy this situation, or encourage the parents become more involved.

Our student handbook at Conway High School defines bullying as:

z. Harassment, intimidation, or bullying (includes cyberbullying) — acts which mean a gesture, an electronic communication, or a written, verbal, physical, or sexual act (1) that is reasonably perceived to have the effect of harming a student physically or emotionally or damaging a student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of personal harm or property damage and/or (2) that insults or demeans a student or group of students causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school — “school” means, in this context, in a classroom, on school premises, on a school bus or other school-related vehicle, at an official school bus stop, at a school-sponsored activity or event whether or not it is held on school premises, or at another program or function where the school is responsible for the student  

  • As stated on page 104 of the student handbook

Page 105, in the handbook states some punishments that are “included but not limited to”:

a. Temporary removal from class

  1. Referral to outside agency
  2. Withdrawal of privileges/exclusion from extracurricular activities
  3. Detention
  4. In-school suspension
  5. Suspension until parent conference
  6. Out-of-school suspension
  7. Transfer
  8. Restitution of property and damages
  9. Probation
  10. Alternative school assignment
  11. Interim alternative placement/home-based
  12. Expulsion
  13. Other sanctions provided in Level I.  

One of the sanctions in Level I is “none” . In a case of bullying, why would a school include that as an option for punishment ?  Albeit, that option is probably not used very often unless the case is very minor. However, in any bullying case, no matter how minor, the option of not punishing the bully should not be available . Even though an adult may see the situation as petty and as teenage drama, the whole deal may be a lot bigger to the victim .

Another school, located in Colorado, on the other side of the country defines bullying as…

A student who engages in any act of bullying and/or a student who takes any retaliatory action against a student who reports in good faith an incident of bullying, is subject to appropriate disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, expulsion and/or referral to law enforcement authorities. The severity and pattern, if any, of the bullying behavior shall be taken into consideration when disciplinary decisions are made. Bullying behavior that constitutes unlawful discrimination or harassment shall be subject to investigation and discipline under related Board policies and procedures. Students targeted by bullying when such bullying behavior may constitute unlawful discrimination or harassment also have additional rights and protections under Board policies and procedures regarding unlawful discrimination and harassment.

…and provides this information for the possible punishments towards the act of bullying .

A student who engages in any act of bullying and/or a student who takes any retaliatory action against a student who reports in good faith an incident of bullying, is subject to appropriate disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, expulsion and/or referral to law enforcement authorities. The severity and pattern, if any, of the bullying behavior shall be taken into consideration when disciplinary decisions are made. Bullying behavior that constitutes unlawful discrimination or harassment shall be subject to investigation and discipline under related Board policies and procedures. Students targeted by bullying when such bullying behavior may constitute unlawful discrimination or harassment also have additional rights and protections under Board policies and procedures regarding unlawful discrimination and harassment.

Some schools, like the Colorado school quoted, takes a different approach when it comes to bullying, putting aside a whole section for bullying, while other high schools across the United States group it with other acts of misbehavior. This could very well be causing the lack of action towards bullying in some schools .

Bullying in the United States is such a problem that many documentaries and movies have been made to shed more light on the subject (Bully and Cyberbully are just two films to name a few) . Bullying can even lead to the victim to attempt or commit suicide, as bully victims are “2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University” ( http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/bullying-and-suicide.html ) .

Schools should raise the awareness about bullying, and they should take more action when a student feels that they are being targeted .

image credit: www.roc.kernhigh.org