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Columns

September 16, 2013

We must do more to prevent bullying in schools

As a new school year commences, the routine for most children and teens remains quite similar to when I attended school several decades ago. This includes back-to-school shopping, anticipation of new classes and teachers, and the excitement of getting reacquainted with friends. 

Unfortunately, for many, another part of the routine includes the fear of being the target of bullies. What’s most unfortunate is that although we as a civilized society have made tremendous strides in sciences and technologies, we have yet to find a way to end this highly destructive problem, and until we do, we must not rest.

When I used to teach the DARE program throughout the Otsego County schools, I incorporated an instructional segment to specifically address bullying because I noticed that it was occurring in each and every school. Students in my classes would ask (through anonymous notes in the DARE question box) about how they could deal with a bullying situation. 

The bullying ran the gamut between physical abuse to being teased for skin color, religion, ethnicity, the type of clothes one wore, how one looked, etc. The common theme was that the criticisms were for things that were beyond one’s control.

Nowadays, bullying is even worse. It not only takes in all of the above, but adds the cyber component. Kids now suffer from nasty commentary or inappropriate pictures via social media. No longer does the bullying end when the school day does; it continues 24/7 through posts, emails and texts. 

The saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” is a fallacy. Far too often we learn of a young person who commits suicide to escape the torment of bullies. We owe it to our society to not ignore this issue and we must do more to prevent further tragedies.

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