Bullying should be taken seriously

Mar 20, 2013

Bullying is more than harmless teasing. It can lead to a student’s poor performance in the classroom, low self-esteem that can carry over into adulthood and it can result in violent acts either by the bully or the bullied.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds and 15 percent of high school students seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months and 7 percent reported making at least one suicide attempt in the previous year.

With the Internet only making bullies more brave by hiding behind a screen, cyber bullying has presented even more problems for teenagers, parents and school administrations.

Many school systems have chosen to adopt new policies specifically defining bullying and the consequences for taking part in or simply witnessing acts of bullying and not doing anything about it. Haywood County does not have such a policy to counter the many instances occurring inside the schools.

Passing such a policy would seem like a very uncontroversial thing for Haywood County Schools’ administration to do. Is there really anyone who would argue against a policy to protect students from being preyed upon by other students?

The students who are bullying others need to not just be punished, but they need to be counseled. There is usually a reason why students bully others who they perceive to be weaker. The students may be “bullied” or abused at home and are taking out their frustrations at school.

Bullies need to be educated on the effects of their actions and held accountable for their behavior. An Anti-Bullying League at the schools would be a great idea to deter students from the negative behavior by having them sign a petition. If they violate their commitment to not bully, they can be punished by not being able to participate in extracurricular activities or face suspension.

Associate Superintendent Bill Nolte pointed out in a recent article that the county didn’t have an anti-bullying policy because everything that could be considered bullying was included in the school system’s student conduct policy.

While bullies may always exist in our society — trying to ignore constant berating and blows to one’s self-confidence is not easy. Just because it may always be a problem doesn’t mean we, as a community shouldn’t try to stop it. Teachers, faculty and administrators should confront the problem directly with a zero-tolerance policy against bullying. That can’t be done without a clear policy defining the issue and the consequences.