On Thursday, October 23rd, 2004, The Scottsdale
Tribune published an editorial called, "Wrong way to tame bullies".
The writer felt that a law against bullying in Arizona wasn’t needed,
as the bullying problem could take care of itself at the local level.
He commented, “…teachers and parents must take reports of bullying seriously.
They must be able to distinguish between harmless teasing and malicious
taunts and threats – or worse. That requires not another law, but
conscientious, caring parents, teachers and administrators.”
The problem, is that very few schools are doing anything. Schools
must be prodded and poked along to take any action setting School District
policy and finding good anti bullying programs.
I was given permission to do a special editorial rebuttal to the Scottsdale
Tribune (Arizona). Since there was a lot of positive feedback afterwards,
I’m sure this article made a difference and changed some minds.
"Yes, I’m making a plea for the Legislature to outlaw schoolyard
I commend the Editorial writer of, “Wrong way to tame bullies” November
23rd Editorial, on his insight into the problem of bullying. He is beginning
to see the depth and severity of the problem. It is for this very reason
that a law is needed. Unless an anti-bullying law is mandated, schools
have no obligation, or power to turn school violence around. Relying on
schools to willingly dedicate classroom efforts and disciplinary practices
along with accepting the responsibility for the safety of our children
when they are in school, has not been embraced by schools on their own.
Moreover, there is confusion amongst the parents, teachers and administrators
about what the definition of bullying is or how to deal with it when it
According to the report, “Bullying Prevention IS Crime Prevention” by
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids (www.fightcrime.org),
children who have been bullied are five times more likely to be depressed,
bullied boys are four times more likely to be suicidal and bullied girls
are eight times more likely to suicidal. My son, Jared, (JaredStory.com)
was one of those statistics. He became depressed because of bullying
as well as an assault inside an unwatched gymnasium. Jared died by
suicide on September 29 1998.
Recent school shootings and the publicity they have received has not
motivated schools to step in either. A law would provide the motivation
that schools need to actively, consistently, and effectively deal with
this issue. At this time, schools have policies that are not consistently
enforced and anti-bullying curriculum and practices are just suggestions
that teachers may use, if they are personally interested. Kids have nowhere
to turn and they know it! A law would give schools the power to do something
about a bullying problem. Right Now, all a student can hope is that it
goes away on its own. The practice of "Zero Tolerance" has penalized kids
for defending themselves. The victim becomes a victim again and kids take
the abuse in silence.
We can wait for all School Districts to make policies concerning bullying,
but they will take their direction from the State Superintendents office
and the State Superintendents office takes their direction from lawmakers.
We as citizens desire this type of top-down authority, as the bottom-up
self-initiatory laws usually promote confusion and eventually individuals
will question the authority of the local agency to set those laws.
Schools will only do what they are mandated to do.
The job of lawmakers is get the ball rolling by defining what bullying
is, what the basics rules and regulations should be and then they would
send the law to the State Superintendents office. The State Superintendent
would develop a model policy for the schools to follow as well as gather
anti bullying programs that are working around the U.S.A. The School
District’s Board of Education would then adopt their own policy according
to the law and take a proactive approach by finding the anti bullying program
of their choice. All of this can be done within a reasonable time
set by law. However, time is of the essence! It’s been four
years since Columbine. How long will we wait to help the children,
who are being bullied, before we do something?
Put yourself in the shoes of a victim of bullying.
Every day a child is bullied is an eternity to them. We worry about
terrorists coming into our country and doing us harm. A victim of
bullying walks into their school each day knowing their terrorist could
strike any moment and destroy their wounded spirit again, and again. How
long can a child “play on the freeway dodging cars” before the experience
finally becomes too much and they go over the edge?
Some of you know exactly what I am saying, and others have witnessed bullying.
Some of you were even the perpetrators of bullying. Stopping the
bullying NOW will help everyone, the victim, the bully, and the long-term
effects of bullying that can come years later. Bullying is a lifetime
sentence that you never forget and some will, or have, never gotten over
Yes, I’m making a plea for the Legislature to outlaw schoolyard bullying,
because failure to act now only guarantees more bullying and more violence.
Its time that every school in Arizona has clear direction to stop the hurt
and pain that goes on every day in a place where our children should feel
safe and secure.