October is Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying is one of my passions because this is an issue that is literally life-and-death for some young people. It’s a pervasive problem in our schools and the online community. This past summer I was asked to share my thoughts on a study that found that 17% of middle schoolers experienced bullying. The study’s sentiment seemed to portray the message that bullying “isn’t so bad.” The interviewer changed his tone when I pointed out that the findings suggested that nearly 1 in 5 children were being targeted, possibly tortured.
I believe that stopping bullying requires a multi-faceted approach that involves the school and the parents. The child who is being bullied needs support and the bully needs to be assessed to determine the cause of their behavior as well. Schools and parents also have the responsibility to foster a sense of acceptance in students to decrease the chance that a person or group will be taunted. If the school refuses to do its job and protect these victimized students, then the families needs to turn to higher authorities which may include the school board and/or the police. No child should be afraid to go to school.
Today I began to ponder what a child’s options might be if they can’t stand being in school anymore. I don’t support children dropping out of school in general, but for some, that’s their best chance for being safe. I’m very proud of what Caleb Laieski did a few years ago. He dropped out of school on his 16th birthday, the earliest date he could legally quit school, to escape the bullying he was forced to endure. He has since earned his GED and works in the Phoenix Mayor’s Office. I hope he’s a role model for other similarly situated students.
Caleb was able to withstand the bullying until his 16th birthday, but some students are not so fortunate. What do you tell a 14 year-old who is bullied every day – to hang in there ‘til he turns 16? I don’t think so. That could set the child up to commit suicide before he turns 16. These children have options to escape their tormenters and they should take advantage of them.
- Online School: If you’re going to attend an online school, make sure it’s a legitimate school with a demanding curriculum. Apparently there are a lot of scams out there.
- Home Schooling: When you opt to be home schooled, make sure you follow all the applicable laws and regulations set by the county. The woman I talked to today at the GED office said you’ll still have to take the GED.
- Community College: I called Rio Salado Community College today and they said a 14 year-old could be enrolled with a special admission. You have to take a placement test to make sure that you’re academically ready for college-level work. You will also have to take the GED when you turn 16.
I will vehemently oppose any proposed legislation that would require children to be in school until their 18th birthdays. Until the education system can effectively prevent bullying in schools, children need a way to escape when they are in a worst-case scenario.
- Parents protest bullying at Glendale elementary school (azfamily.com)
- 6 Steps to Take if Your Child Is Being Bullied (blogs.lawyers.com)
- 5 Things A Bully Doesn’t Want You to Know (paramuspost.com)
- Bully Busting in School and on the Web (nbc15.com)