• School Bullying the New Normal

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    December 12th, 2011dbonnettUncategorized

    Recent statistics have determined that more than 160,000 students miss school each day because of severe bullying. This number only counts the number of students who miss school because of face to face, and sometimes physical, bullying. “Cyber” bullying, which has greatly increased during the last few years, is not included and these statistics have determined that at least 35% of students today have been attacked online but their peers. The horrible effect of school bullying is reflected in the more 50% rise in adolescent suicides during the last 30 years. American children are required by law to attend school until they are 16 years old and then can only quit with parental permission. We also know that schools have always had bully’s and this is a problem that is unlikely to go away anytime soon. But the number of cases, and their consequences, we must ask ourselves when it is time to do something about this.

    Two years ago young Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers Honor Student and Classical Violinist threw himself from the George Washington Bridge after his college roommate streamed his private meeting with another male student at which they were kissing. The problem of bullying is a serious one but the problem of gay bullying is much more serious because gay students are seven times more likely to take their own life because of bullying. This blog as spoken out many times about this issue and MSNBC has led a very successful campaign to fight this problem and American Prosecutors are apparently paying attention. Tyler´s roommate is now facing a 15 year sentence for everything from felonious invasion of privacy to hate crimes violations and there are a number of other prosecutions on going across the nation.

    But the question is not whether these young bully´s should be sent to prison, thereby ruining yet another life, but whether the parents of these children should be held accountable for their actions. Our children are mirrors of ourselves. The attitudes that they have, the way that they view others, begins in the home. In many cases if a child´s parents are homophobic, they will reflect these attitudes. The problem however is that while adults might keep their thoughts to themselves, if for no other reason than to be politically correct, children usually will not. These same children have been desensitized by television and video games and the concept of how much they can be hurting others seldom registers. Children are not born mean spirited, they are made that way by the lessons they learn at home. When a child´s acts damage someone´s property the parents are held legally responsible, but when a child´s bullying causes the death of another child the State goes after the child.

    All students should understand that physical bullying is a crime of assault. Cyber bullying is not a federal crime as yet but if the bullying is directed toward their gay classmates that they can be charged and sent to prison, completely destroying their futures, for both State and Federal Hate Crimes if the bullying leads to a persons death. But students who are victims also need to understand that if parents and school authorities fail to act to protect them, for whatever reason, that they do have protections. Children of any age can report abuse to the police and if they police do not listen, they can report this fail to investigate to the media. Whether you are in third grade, with plans to become a lawyer or to have a criminal justice career, or a freshman in college, you have the legal right to protect yourself by seeking official help if your natural protectors fail you. Finally, student victims should realize that suicide never solves the problems. Your life is simply ended and your tormentors will only seek other victims.

 

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