Area Bullying In The Schools A Growing Concern

By Gwen Clark

If a parent reads the Student Handbooks that are sent home each year with their child,  they will most likely find a section dealing with “Bullying”.  It will usually have a definition of “Bullying,” being the school’s own definition or Webster’s Dictionary plus the schools policy on it,  any consequences, and hopefully the lack of tolerance for any and all bullying  depending on the school also.  Parents should be aware that because a school publishes such a policy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is followed.   The latest publicized case nearest to us was the incident at Stearns Jr-Sr High School where a  thirteen year old girl was the victim of two other girls who  physically assaulted her  during school hours just days after her mother had spoken to a school counselor with sincere concern for her daughter’s safety.

Although many states do not have Anti Bullying Laws, Maine does:   The State of Maine prohibits bullying in public schools.  It is to insure that all students have the right to attend public schools that are safe, secure and peaceful environments.    The Maine Civil Liberties Union also can play a role in this process.  Some schools have their own Civil Rights Groups as  a mediation option in such cases.   There are two forms of  Bullying:   Direct -such as threatening physical harm, gestures, verbal bullying, name calling, repeated teasing, insulting remarks and put-downs,  or the act of physical contact itself, taking, stealing or damaging  property,  and Indirect;  such as rumor starting, exclusion from activities.  Cyber-bullying is also included in both of these definitions but is through the use of technology, computer or cell phone communication.   Bullying on buses seems to be more advanced due to the fact that most school systems cannot afford  security cameras to record the activities.  Advanced seating plans usually help deter this problem but not always.   A recent movie “BULLY” brought to light the excessiveness of bullying in schools and just recently Anderson Cooper showed his news film “The Bully Effect”  on television.

There are many reasons why  kids bully others.  Bullying behavior is often a cry for help.  There are three basic reasons: one is because the child (he or she) “ has a deep troubling need of their own”; is picked on,  problems at home;  under achievers at school.   The second reason is “they fall into a type of thinking that bullying is the cool thing to do; especially in front of their friends.  The third is that adults do not give their kids the skills they need to be able to tolerate and appreciate the differences of others.  Many bullies engage in this behavior because it makes them feel important.  They learn that being physically aggressive is a way to get what they want and a way to control people.    Studies show that bullies tend to continue their behavior throughout their lives.  Their bullying actions become a cycle in that bullies have children that bully.  In the end both the victims as well as the bullies suffer.  It effects both mental and physical well-being leading to long lasting  consequences.

According to research, nine out of ten elementary students have been bullied by their peers  Nearly six in ten children may have participated in some form of bullying themselves in a year’s period.    Forty percent of bullied students in elementary schools and sixty percent  in middle schools say that teachers intervene in bullying incidents“ once in a while” or “almost never”.  Twenty five percent of teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and only intervene in 4% of incidents.   

We have a bullying problem here in some of our schools.   Here lies part of the problem. Some teachers do nothing when they see bullying. The teachers that do report it get no results from the administration. Parents are not notified when their child is bullied due the citing of confidentiality,  and parents who try to get protection for their child are not supported by staff or at times threatened themselves with consequences.   Each school is charged with an administrative staff member whose position is to control and take care of these bullying incidents and that member is usually the principal.

I am sharing several incidents that have been related to me by parents who have been involved and I promised that their names would be left out due to fear of retribution themselves through the school systems.  Case 1:  For two years a sixth grade girl has been verbally bullied and cyberbullied in a local elementary school.  Her mother is a single parent who works hard at whatever  work   she can get. Unfortunately some of that work includes substituting at the school and coaching.  She attempted to contact the parents of the two girls bullying her daughter with no results and visited the principals office  where she was told the complaint would go no further if she wanted to continue working at the school.   

Case # 2:  Since the beginning of this school year, nine year old girl attending a nearby school has been the victim of verbal bullying by a boy in her class who happens to be a teacher’s son.  The girl’s mother was working full time at the school herself but since attempting to get help to stop the bullying of her daughter by talking  first with the teacher whose response was to seclude  the girl and yell at her and then the principal who kept no records of their meetings and meeting with the School Board where they were told that the Board stands behind its staff,  the mother’s hours have been cut.    This mother was legally advised to stay in the school in order to keep her child safe.

Case 3:    At another local school, an eight year old girl was pulled from the school by her mother and grandmother who sought medical treatment for the girl after prolonged verbal bullying by both students and the teacher.  The girl was on anxiety medications and out of school for a week and returned only after the parent requested her transfer to a neighboring school where the child is blossoming with her second grade class.  A  mother related that her six year old girl returned home from school one afternoon and said during a recess outside she was knocked to the ground by a boy and her nose bloodied.  All the while the supervising teachers did not see the incident and the girl attended to her own injuries once inside the school.   Another parent told me that boys kicking each other in the groin is a popular game at a local school as well or just kicking others  anywhere. Girls participate also. 

Parents concerned about the welfare and safety  of their children in a learning environment, their school and their community need to get more involved in their activities.   These incidents could be topics for Stephen King to write about.  Children are being treated unfairly. Parents are being treated unfairly and school staff are being treated unfairly.    Check them out.   Teachers need to be prepared to handle these situations. If they are not prepared, they need to be offered training.

There are 2 Comments

After reading this article and the case in point stories I am left to wonder why the three were chosen? The first two stories sound more like a parents issues with the school system and their superiors. Both stories have the same disgruntled employee undertone.

1 The first women was told to keep quiet or she wouldn't work? Really ? Do you think the possibility exists that that was not the actual conversation. Do you think it was possible that was her overreaction to what was said. Now a days principals are under a microscope. Every meeting every problem is documented. It has to be for reasons like this. If they are cyber bullying, there is hard evidence. Why not go to the law enforcement ? That is solid proof and the women would not be afraid of losing her job. Proper documentation and public information.

2- This is for sure a parent issue. The story you write is more about this woman's problem with her coworker . The 9 year old girl is being verbally abused by a boy in her class? Has the mother documented the bulling through phone calls, computer correspondence, etc..? i'll say apparently bullying because unlike case one there is no cyber bullying, no actual proof. The women complains that a teacher , the mother of the supposed bully, was told and her "response was to seclude the girl and yell at her". I am sure this would not happen. In this day and age a teacher would not seclude a child for personal reasons. The back lash from that is astronomical. However a coworker would attack another coworker. How about this mother is bullying the co-worker and the co-workers child. Possibility? Sure! What atty. would take a child's safety and rely on the ability of a part time worker? How is this mother going to keep her child"safe"? she ,by her own admission only works part time. Who is this parent? You need another attorney! Obviously the counsel who supposedly counseled her was not the sharpest tool in the shed.
3 Grandma and mom kudos to you. If you think your child is really suffering emotionally from abuse, relocating the child and taking their best interest to heart first should be applauded. Sometimes the hardest road is the best. Removing the student from the situation and placing them somewhere to flourish perfect. These two women obviously. Put the child's well being first.

In today's society we are so concerned with blame. Who's responsible, who's fault, and the I am gonna get you mentality. What happened to childhood scrapes and bruises ? What happened to boys will be boys and girls will be girls. Boys are rough and tumble, girls are catty and vicious. It's been that way since the beginning of time. Children also learn by example. Moms and dads need to really focus on , is this just natural growing pains or has it reached to another level. Boys kicking boys in the groin, that's old already, they have been doing that since I was little many moons ago. Parents stop being so sensitive, stop using your children to get back at some adult you have a gripe with. When did we all become so mean! As far as 9 out of ten kids being bullied, I would clarify that and say everyone person at one time or another has been bullied. Parents do need to become more involved, not in activities but in the actual raising of their children. Children learn what they see.! Try not using the tv and video games as baby sitters! Read a book there are plenty of them out there and they deal with all kinds of things parents should be talking to their children about! Just saying!!

I would like to start my comment in agreement that bullying has taken its toll on many a young person. Mom and grandma in your 3rd case did what I would consider the bravest thing. They did what was right for the child. They did it first. Before any whining and complaining. Your statistics say 9 out of 10 children are bullied. If you really think about it 10 out of 10 children have been bullied at some point. Some bulling is bad some is just growing pains. If my parents disciplined me today as they did back then it would be considered child abuse.
You article says I promised not to reveal names, why? I understand not revealing the names and at the same time am questioning why these parents don't want to come forward. The are afraid of retribution? Would that be so bad considering what their children are going thru? You state in your article about Maines' bullying laws, bullying laws should have some kind of age stages. If a kindergartener calls someone a name most of the time it childhood lessons being learned. Should the same punishments be levied for kindergarteners as for middle and high school. Of course not any reasonable person would say.
Case one was a little disturbing since the mother is accusing the principal of threatening her job. I do believe that is illegal and there are laws about that. In this day and age principals need to be careful how they word things, everything has to be done with repercussions considered. Also you say " unfortunately some of that work includes substituting at the school and coaching" why is that unfortunate? Has she had issues with the school authority? Seems to me it should say Mrs. So and So is afraid this will affect her job at school as a substitute , a job she looked forward to going to. Mrs. So and So should have continued working and gathered evidence to present to the principal. Then there is no problem. Work harder to find the problem and solve it. Your schools are tiny as well as your communities put yourself last who cares about your job. Isn't your daughter more important?

Case two was more disturbing than case one. Anyone reading this article will be able to tell that the mother here has a problem with the teachers and school administration. Again no evidence of bullying , no concrete facts. Another parent blaming everyone else. Again in this day and age a teacher sequestering a student to verbally yell at her. If the teacher was yelling how come no one else heard? The school board should stand behind its staff, where else do teachers get support from, that's not unusual it's their job. If the child was a teachers son, I can't imagine everything wasn't done to make sure this was taken care of. Sometimes we as parents are WAY OVER protective of our children and are not allowing them to mature and learn to deal with the world around them. Again this mother is attacking the principal. She was advised by legal counsel to stay at school. Why didn't legal counsel advise her to get her daughter out of there? Why would you want to put your child in more danger? Seems this parent is only thinking about herself and her issues. The kids in these two case are collateral damages caused by the parents!

"These incidents could be topics for Stephen king to write about..", don't you think that those words are sensationalizing a very questionable set of accusations put forth in your article.? Unless you know the specifics you shouldn't be adding fuel to fires that need water. Compassion for the children is what's need. SOMETIMES, THE ACCUSED IS THE BULLIED CHILD and their parent are the bullied parents. Your article seemed more like a personal story, not an article to enlighten people to the problems and warning signs of bullying in today's society. Children playing on the playground, boys doing what boys do, girls being catty and whiny, parents over reacting not allowing children to grow. Who takes care of the children being abused, hungry, cold , no proper clothing, unable to concentrate at school. It is the teachers when the parents don't. Take another look at the accuser see where they have failed and why there is such a need for them to use their children for there own personal gain, job security maybe?