As another school year comes to an end, it’s a good time to look back and take a pulse on where the year has taken us with helping to stop bullying. This year, there have continued to be many stories making headlines this year and some maybe changing the landscape for how bullying will be handled.
The end of last year saw the bullycide of Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts. In that case nine students at her school were arrested and brought up on charges, starting what looked to be a precedent setting case. The most interesting fact is that it was not physical bullying but both cyberbullying and verbal harassment. This year the case went to trial and in the end five teenagers faced harsh probation and records for their actions. While not a landslide case, it does set a precedent for others to follow.
Then there was the story of the 13 year old boy in Philadelphia who was hung on a tree and fence by his bullies who then tortured him and could have killed him. They videotaped the whole thing and were also brought to justice. But can the pain that the bully victim felt truly ever be forgotten.
And finally, there’s the story of the Australian boy who just had enough and became a hero to many by slamming his bully to the ground. Just as we saw with the death of Osama Bin Laden, as people took to the street to celebrate, many celebrated this boy fighting back and “winning”. But what is the price of violence against violence? How can we celebrate the pain or death of another? When someone who is a bully is beaten there is a vindication felt and a sense that the senselessness of the violence and hurt is finally over. Is it human nature to celebrate this violence or is it a continuation of our need to have violence in our lives. Certainly one side of me wants to celebrate and cheer as loud as everyone else and then another side regrets that we have to have violence to end a violent person. This was a big debate this year and will continue to be one. Continue to write in your thoughts and opinions. The debate is a good thing and we should work together to discuss better ways to end bullying.
These three media stories are only a fraction of the stories that happened to kids at school all year again. Every day across the country and the world kids still deal with bullying issues and many still don’t go to school or even end their own lives. There is still work to be done in 2011 and 2012.
So what can we do? Well, on the positive front, the government took ownership of the problem and started a website “stopbullying.gov”. On the site, they suggest that communities that want to solve it start a community-wide anti-bullying campaign. They site successful campaigns as ones that do the following:
- Cohesive, consistent, coordinated efforts that include a long-term strategy to prevent bullying
- Consensus on goals, messages, prevention tactics, follow-up, enforcement and evaluation factors
- Engagement by relevant, diverse audiences
- Family, school-community, law enforcement, policymakers, and youth working together to get the
- message out
- Local media involvement