I think it is good to revisit past stories every so often just to check in see what progress we have made. So are we doing better with handling bullying?
Kids bully for so many reasons that we will not get into right now, but the main thing is to remember that they are still kids; including the actually bully. Will bullies learn if they are simply treated like criminals? Do we know why they thought being a bully was a good idea in the first place? Are we using this as a teachable moment or treating them in the same way as the highly unsuccessful (and biased) zero tolerance rules?
“Criminalizing Bullying Discourages Reporting, Groups Say”
“Stringent laws designed to punish or criminalize bullying are usually accompanied by statements from public officials that the new policies will help make schools safer for children by matching the serious, often overlooked issue of bullying with an equally serious response. But such "legislative knee-jerk" reactions may actually have the opposite effect, making victims less likely to report incidents of bullying and creating unnecessary harm for bullies in the process, a group of school climate and youth advocacy groups have said.”
“That's because racheting up the consequences of hurtful or abusive speech to an immediate school suspension or a criminal citation removes valuable, intermediate steps from the process. Knowing the immediate severity of the punishment for bullies, victims might hesitate to report them, and school officials might be more likely to look the other way, the groups, including the National School Climate Center, said in a brief filed in a New York court case related to a local statute that criminalizes cyberbullying.”
“"Unfortunately, only one in three bullied youth has reported being bullied to an adult. When the severity of consequences is greatly disproportional to the severity of an incident, it can discourage reporting by students and encourage inaction and dismissal by teachers and school officials, who lack ability to address cyberbullying outside the bounds of the law," said the amici curiae brief, which was also filed by Advocates for Children of New York, Empire State Pride Agenda, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and the Student Press Law Center.”
Read the whole thing here: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/2014/07/criminalizing_bullying_discourages_reporting_groups_say.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS3
My point is simple; we need to think about the well-being of the kids in all circumstances, and making criminals out of kids helps no one in the long or short run. There is no excuse for bullying, but there is also no excuse for discarding that bully into the big machine of the corrections industry.
Remember, it is all about the kids in the end.
Dr Flavius A B Akerele III