Bullying is Still a Big Problem

Alone on the School Bus by woodleywonderworks from Flickr

Alone on the School Bus by woodleywonderworks from Flickr

When a stranger belittles a stranger, he’s a jerk. When he hits a stranger, it’s assault.
When a person belittles or hits their romantic partner, it’s domestic violence.
When a parent belittles or hits their child, it’s child abuse.
When a child belittles or hits another child, it’s kids being kids?!?

You’ve got to be kidding me.

National Stop Bullying Day is on February 9th this year. I feel compelled to bring up this topic again because this is a problem that is not going away fast enough.

Bullying is a big problem, and it’s a deadly problem. Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death of youth age 12-19 in the U.S. but it’s the leading cause of death of LGBT teens. Seventeen year-old Josh Pacheco of Michigan committed suicide two months after he came out last November. His family claims his suicide was the result of bullying. The school reported that they didn’t know it was going on, but stories from others have emerged since his death that suggest it was commonly known.

These deaths shouldn’t happen. We all know which kids get picked on at school – you can tell that they’re miserable even if they haven’t directly reported that they’re being abused by their peers. And unfortunately, there are recent reports where families have informed the school that their child was being bullied and they allegedly did nothing. Just this week, there was a report about a mother in Gilbert who moved her daughter to another school because she was being bullied. The girl was allegedly stabbed with a pencil and physically attacked so badly that she had bruises.  The school has an anti-bullying policy in accordance with Arizona law, but officials appeared to ignore it.

This mother did the right thing. She reported the abuse when she learned about it and she took action to protect her daughter’s safety when the school failed to do it. Could she pursue a lawsuit against the school and criminal charges against the perpetrators? Probably, but that’s a personal decision. The mother’s obligation is to her child. I hope the school takes a closer look at their staff’s lack of action when they learned of the bullying and takes steps to remedy it. I suspect the bullies in this situation will move on to a new target unless they are stopped.

If you want to know what laws are on the books in your state regarding bullying, you can look them up here.

If you know or even suspect that bullying is occurring, do something. Don’t say silent and let a child suffer needlessly. And remember, bullying is a learned behavior. There’s a chance that the bullies themselves need help either because they have emotional problems that their family is ignoring it or perhaps the bully is being abused and the only way they know to cope with it is to abuse someone else.