Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.
– Benjamin Disraeli
This past Friday, the Associated Press had this story to share with us. I couldn’t believe that 4 students at the same high school had committed suicide over a course of 2 years because of bullying. The suicides of the young gay teens, highlighted in this blog, shines the light even brighter on the issue of bullying. Generally, bullying only makes the headlines if there is a death, either by suicide or mass shootings. This may come as a surprise, but not every bullied teenager commits suicides or goes on a shooting spree. For every teen that commit suicides, how many other teens continue to live with the torment?
The first word that comes to my mind is accountability. In one of the cases at Mentor High School, some parents went to school officials, but nothing changed. It’s implied that a math teacher at the school ignored the bullying occurring in his classroom. The bullies, school officials, and parents should all be held accountable. I don’t particularly think that parents are at home teaching their kids to bully, but I bet the parents of these bullies aren’t teaching these kids to respect others, or to stand up for someone even if it’s not what their friends are doing. No one should fear going to school, because of verbal, physical or emotional abuse.
There are organizations dedicated to ending bullying. The Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER) has designating October, National Bullying Prevention Month. PACER has resources and activities on their website . The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has the Stop Bullying Now! Campaign. Their website has games and cartoons to teach kids how to deal with bullying. There are also prevention programs that schools can carry out. The Olweus Program and the different programs offered by The Committee for Children are two available programs that schools can use to help solve the problem of bullying.
As of June 2010, there are 9 states (Alabama, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin) that do not have anti-bullying laws. Even though most states have such laws, it is not enough! Children be protected the very first time they step foot in a school. Teachers and students should be trained to identify, and handle bullying situations. While some schools have taken these steps and used programs such as Olweus, I believe it should be a mandatory implementation for all public schools in the United States.