School children are being bullied both verbally and with physical violence, some to the point that it results in death. How long are students going to endure the bullying before they say enough is enough?
Many individuals are taking a stand regarding bullying, including President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. They are urging schools and parents to understand the risk of bullying, to not chalk harassment up to kids being kids and to create an atmosphere at school where children feel safe and feel like they belong.
“Bullying can have destructive consequences for our young people” says President Obama.
Do teachers understand the magnitude of what students are enduring?
St. Lucie County, Florida claims that bullying is not tolerated in their district. They have issued an active bullying and harassment policy, guaranteeing a safe, secure, and free from harassment and bullying of any kind, that is severe enough to cause an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment.
But is this enough. Do schools really grasp the psychological aspect that an act of bullying can have on a student? Are they aware that all students are different and, therefore, determine what cases are severe enough and cause for concern?
Anaya Bailey, a sixth-grader at Tradition Research Education School informed me that she refused to allow bullying to go more than
one incident and decided to retaliate by “treating a bully, like a bully” and hitting the bully back after being hit. Anaya, a honor roll student, 1st Place State Science Fair Winner, and 1st Place State History Winner, was sent to BIC (Behavioral Institute Center) for defending herself.
When asked if she felt that students truly understood the meaning, consequences and potential harm of bullying, Anaya replied,
“Not really, because I don’t think the schools talk about it enough. During Anti-bullying month we were required to make a poster, and whoever had the best poster won. It was more of a competition on who can draw the best, not a learning environment. So, I don’t think we really understood what bullying was, or how it can hurt someone.”
Perhaps the districts should do more than simply make an announcement that bullying is wrong. Anaya certainly thinks so.
“In my old school they had Counsel, where we met every week and talked about things that were bothering us as a group. I think this school should have something like Counsel in our PODS, where all of the 6th graders get together and talk about bullying or things that are truly bothering us. We can also do activities, [such as] trust activities, to make students interact with each other, especially the one’s that are being picked on. I would like to call this day Stop Everything and Counsel Friday’s“.
Another incident of a student defending himself happened on March 16, 2011 in Sydney Australia, in which Casey Heynes, a 12-year-old decided no more to being a repeated victim of school bullying and retaliated by body slamming the bully on the concrete. His father stated, “His son had been the victim of bullying for several years”. Along with the bully, Casey Heynes was suspended.
What message exactly are the schools trying to send? That it’s okay to be bullied until you defend yourself and should you defend yourself there is a strong possibility that you will suffer the same consequences as the bully.