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Bullying today is not about pranks or double dog dares or even threats of a recess fight. In our rapidly changing world, bullying has became such a problem that many states are addressing the issue with legislation targeting offenders and often parents.
Bullying takes on more identifiable forms than in the past. Of course, the most dominant form is verbal, followed by physical, but there is also racial, sexual, social exclusion and cyber bullying. Bullying begins in elementary school, intensifies in middle school and drops off in high school, but doesn’t disappear altogether. Signs also can be found in universities and work places.
How serious is bullying? The following statistics can be found in The Anti-Bullying Handbook for Teachers and Administrators:
Many adults view bullying as “just part of being a kid.” That requires you to ignore the proven link between teenage suicide and bullying. Students are being told to ignore the school bully but that tactic doesn’t solve the problem and in most cases bullying increases. In many instances, parents are quick to blame school administrators as if they created the problem.
The reality is that parents of bullies are, in most cases, not only aware of the child’s behavior but also are victims of it. It is easier to give in than to discipline the child. Bullying often begins at home before a child enters a social setting such as school. Once the behavior is rewarded (ignored) in elementary school, it carries into middle school.
Bullying requires the involvement of everyone, every time. Parents, guardians and school administrators must be more proactive and deal with every claim seriously. Turning your back on even the mildest form of bullying is the same as condoning the behavior and maximizing the negative impact on the victim.
So if you’re one of those people who think bullying builds character and thicker skin, guess what? You’re wrong. Bullying causes isolation, depression, low self-esteem and, in most instances, violence resulting in physical injury and even death. Schools have adopted a zero tolerance approach to the issue, why can’t the rest of us?
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.