A Call to Stop the Bullying: Place Bully Education Programs in Schools

For my Writing for Social Change class, we were asked to write a letter to a policymaker on an issue close to us.  I chose bullying because it has increasingly become an issue in and out of schools, and I was bullied as I grew up.  I felt very close to this topic.  It was interesting for me to be asked to write something that I was personally invested in, as for most of my writing I have to adhere to the strict journalistic ethical guidelines of avoiding a conflict of interest.  For this particular assignment, I was asked to write about something I was specifically involved in.  It was a nice change to write something like this.

Revision:

A Call to Stop the Bullying: Place Bully Education Programs in Schools

As a former student of MCPS, I am writing out of concern for bullying in schools.  I believe very strongly that there needs to be enforcement for bully prevention programs in elementary, middle, and high schools.

I appreciate the quality of education I received as an alumna of MCPS.  However, I endured and observed much teasing in school growing up.  I was teased about my height, which greatly affected me, caused me sadness, and made me feel inferior.

One incident I observed sticks out in my mind.  After Hurricane Katrina, students from New Orleans were brought to my high school.  During a lunch period basketball game, the New Orleans students were stomped on and beat up by students from my school.

While the individual students involved were offered counseling, the entire school was not addressed.  Rumors proliferated and the New Orleans students continued to be teased.  School counselors should have addressed these emotions and events with the entire school.

Events such as this one are more likely to occur and go undetected when the climate fails to counteract bullying.

I know that several states, Maryland included, have been implementing bully prevention plans, but I am worried about the effectiveness of these programs.  It is great that schools and school boards are drawing attention to this issue, but the harder part, the more long-term part, must not be forgotten.

The enforcement of bully prevention programs is perhaps the most important part.  While students need to be informed of types of bullying, the negative effects, and strategies to stop bullying, there also needs to be punishment if they are engaging in bullying.

There can be a prohibition of harassment, teasing, and taunting, but these forms of bullying may continue if the bullies themselves are not disciplined and given counseling to find the reason they bully.

Discipline for bullying can take many forms:

  1. Suspension and expulsion will only harness more negative feelings within students, without working through emotions and thoughts.  Counseling for the bully is necessary, to find out why he or she is engaging in such behavior.  Counseling for the victim may be offered, as well.
  2. The bully should talk with the principal, who should explain the bully prevention program and expectations to the student involved in bullying and the parents.
  3. Self-confidence workshops for bullies and victims of bullying should be implemented.

If higher emphasis is placed on counseling, then students will feel the effects of bully prevention programs and enforcement.

Studies have shown that bullying is increasingly becoming an occurrence outside of school.  Bullies are utilizing the Internet, social media, online instant messaging programs, text messaging, and other forms to “cyber bully.”  In the 2003-2004 school year, 42 percent of children were bullied while online, according to the i-SAFE website, a nonprofit organization focused on providing Internet safety education.  This new form of bullying has become a significant problem to this generation who is so dependent upon technology.

The recent suicide of a Rutgers University student in response to harassment because of his sexual orientation should bring this issue to the forefront of our agendas.  Victims of bullying are increasingly taking their own lives.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people.  Additionally, bully victims are between two to nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University.

I don’t want to see this societal issue brought up in such a forceful way, from the recent suicides to talk shows and newscasts discussing bullying, and then be forgotten.  Dallying on this issue will cause more children to have long-lasting negative effects from bullying.  Please consider the steps the education community needs to take to focus on enforcing the bully prevention programs.

Thank you.

 

Very sincerely,

Marlena Chertock

***

A Call to Stop the Bullying: Place Bully Education Programs in Schools

To: Jerry Weast, Superintendent of Schools

As a former student of MCPS, I am writing out of concern for bullying in schools.  I believe very strongly that there needs to be a comprehensive bully education program placed in elementary, middle, and high schools.

I appreciate the quality of education I received as an alumna of MCPS.  However, I endured and observed much teasing in school growing up.  I was teased about my height, which greatly affected me, caused me sadness, and made me feel inferior.

One incident in particular sticks out in my mind.  After Hurricane Katrina, students from New Orleans were brought to my high school.  During one lunch period basketball game, the New Orleans students were stomped on and beat up by students from my school.

These events are more likely to occur and go undetected when the climate fails to disapprove of bullying.

A school counselor should have addressed these emotions and events with the entire school.  My counselors never intervened with the issue of bullying.  Maybe I would have been able to stand up to my bullies easier if I had received counseling or education on the affects of bullying.

Every day bullies work to put others down.  Bullying is not limited to preschool or elementary school playgrounds, anymore.  It takes many forms and can occur later in life, as well.  Now is the time to take the power away from bullies.

Studies have shown that bullying is increasingly becoming an occurrence outside of school.  Bullies are utilizing the Internet, social media, online instant messaging programs, text messaging, and other forms to “cyber bully.”  In the 2003-2004 school year, 42 percent of children were bullied while online, according to the i-SAFE website, a nonprofit organization focused on providing Internet safety education.  This new form of bullying has become a significant problem to this generation who is so dependent upon technology.

Though bullying is increasingly happening out of the boundaries of school, this does not prohibit the education community from constructively fixing this problem.

The recent suicide of a Rutgers University student in response to harassment because of his sexual orientation should bring this issue to the forefront of our agendas.  Victims of bullying are increasingly taking their own lives.  Bullying has been shown to increase suicidal tendencies and depression.

We need to act now.  I believe there should be a comprehensive bully education program placed in elementary, middle, and high schools, just as there are health, sex, and drug education programs already in place.

There are several key steps that can be taken to launch such a program:

  1. Write curriculum for a bully education program.  Include ways to spot bullying, how bullying can affect a person emotionally and physically, and techniques to stop bullying.
  2. Add the curriculum to health, sex, and drug education programs already established in schools.
  3. Bring in speakers who have experienced bullying.  Bring in former bullies.
  4. Provide additional training to teachers in charge of these classes, especially in the “how to spot bullying” and “what students can do to stop bullying” aspects of the curriculum.
  5. Place higher emphasis on counselors to act on issues relating to bullying.  Implement self-confidence workshops for students.

I don’t want to see this societal issue be brought up in such a forceful way, from the recent suicides to talk shows and newscasts discussing bullying, and then be forgotten.  Dallying on this issue will cause more children to have long-lasting negative effects from bullying.  Please consider having the education community respond to this issue.

Thank you.

Very sincerely,

Marlena Chertock

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