FOR THE WEEK OF NOV. 21, 2011
School bullying claims more victims
Definitions of bullying can range from verbal harassment to physical assault. Does your school have an anti-bullying policy? What does your school define as bullying? Is it proper to ban some speech in school?
Search for newspaper reports on bullying and its effects. Besides suicide, what can bullying lead to? Dropping out? Drug abuse? Violent retaliation?
Have you experienced or witnessed bullying at your school? What is the responsibility of bystanders? Should they speak up? Report it to school authorities? Are you worried that bullies will turn on you if you challenge them?
Last week, a 10-year-old girl in North Carolina and a 15-year-old boy in West Virginia killed themselves after enduring bullying in their schools.
Classmates of the 10-year-old came forward and said "she was bullied -- and bullied bad -- in school." The parents of the 15-year-old said their son was a victim of bullying after he witnessed an incident involving other students at his school.
And, a lawsuit filed last week accused school officials in Indiana of doing nothing to stop a year of racist bullying that culminated in the severe beating inside school of a 17-year-old boy by several other students. They had called him “Terrorist” and “Little Osama” because of his Middle Eastern roots.
One third of middle and high school students say they have been bullied during the school year, according to federal data. The White House says bullying affects every child whether the child is being bullied, is doing the bullying or is a bystander.
Last spring, President Obama held a day-long White House conference on bullying, and at least six bills have been introduced this year in Congress ranging from allowing a grant to be used for anti-bullying efforts to enacting federal protections for gay and lesbian students.
But, none of the bills have had a committee hearing, and prospects for a federal bullying law are dim. Some critics complain about too much federal intervention in people's personal lives and others object to limiting criticism of homosexuality.
In Michigan, gay and Muslim groups recently said they were relieved after a Michigan lawmaker agreed to drop a provision in an anti-bullying bill that would have carved out an exemption for religious or moral beliefs. Critics had charged the exemption could have legitimized harassment of gay and other minority students.
The President says: "This isn't an issue that makes headlines every day, but it is an issue that affects every single young person in the country." -- Barack Obama
Youth leadership coach says: "Almost 50 percent of the students see, hear or watch it every single day. So what we’re really trying to do is get those students to speak up or speak out - to do something to help their classmates out." -- Travis Brown, Operation Mojo.
White House critic says: Gay groups are "using this issue as a way to silence legitimate and respectful moral disagreement with homosexual conduct." -- Tony Perkins, Family Research Council.
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