Weekly Feature

2018-10-11 / Editorial

Combating bullying during ‘National Bullying Prevention Month’

Bee Editorial

On Oct. 4, the Erie County Legislature made a proclamation to recognize October as “National Bullying Prevention Month” in Erie County.

Bullying is a universal issue. According to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school, however, only 20 to 30 percent of those who are bullied report the harassment to an adult. The information also shows that most bullying takes place on or outside of school grounds, as well as on the school bus. The most common type of bullying reported is verbal and social, with about 44 percent of children reporting they were called names or teased.

It’s clear there is a growing awareness of the bullying issue across the country, which might make some people think the issue is declining. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in New York, the rate of students who report they are bullied is on the rise; in 2009, 18 percent of students said they were bullied on school property. By 2017, that number was up to 21 percent.

While 49 states, including New York, have some type of anti-bullying legislation in place, no federal anti-bullying law exists.

In some instances, bullying overlaps with discriminatory harassment, which is covered under federal civil rights laws that are enforced by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice. By law, schools are required to address conduct that is severe, pervasive or persistent, creates a hostile environment at school or is related to a student’s race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion.

Unfortunately, as many parents know, bullies can be relentless, and school leaders can be less than helpful when it comes to solving problems. Even experts are at a loss for how to prevent it; a 2008 study from American Psychologist Association found that Zero tolerance and expulsion are not effective approaches.

So what can a frustrated parent do?

Start by contacting the child’s teacher and addressing the concerns. If nothing changes, work your way up the administration ladder. Address the school board during a meeting. Remember that it may not matter “who started it.” Some kids who are bullied may be seen as annoying or provoking, but this does not excuse the bullying behavior.

For more information on bullying prevention efforts, visit stopbullying.gov. or contact the WNY Anti-Bully Project at support@antibullyproject.org.

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