It’s interesting to watch how individual states handle the problem of school bullying. Last week, California lawmakers passed a resolution designating March as the state’s bullying prevention month.
What does this mean for the state’s more than six million public school students? Not much – this is mostly a PR move. The resolution has no teeth, but it may continue to help raise public awareness of the very real problem of bullying on school campuses.
But even this act, which would appear to be a no-brainer, resulted in debate. One assemblyman questioned if expanding bullying into verbal and psychological areas would be a “slippery slope to micromanage anything that a person might use to persuade another person. Bullying, in fact, may be in the eye of the beholder.”
How true. If a student feels his or her self-esteem or physical well being is being threatened to the point that it interferes with school or other daily activities, then that is bullying. And that is not isolated case in California. The sponsor of the resolution estimated that eight percent of the state’s students in elementary through high school skip class as least once a month to avoid bullies.
To be fair, California has a respectable anti-bullying law on the books. The watchdog organization, Bully Police USA, gives it a grade of “B.”
But rather than spend time debating “slippery slopes,” California and other states need to concentrate on tightening laws to create prompt and swift punishments for bullying. States also need to make use of faculty training, curricula for students to identify and oppose bullying and technology that can help identify the bullies.
We have seen far too many kids missing school – even to the point of committing suicide – to avoid unrelenting bullying. This is a very serious and growing problem. PR activities that focus on the problem are good. But what we need is concrete action.
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