Archive for Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Legislature considers anti-bullying measure

Schools would have to report bullying to the state

February 14, 2007


— Taunted by bullies several years ago, Alex Tranin finally had to leave his Johnson County elementary school to attend a private academy.

"I couldn't really learn because I was thinking about how I was going to get home or survive recess," said Tranin, who is now 12.

Students and experts on bullying urged lawmakers Wednesday to adopt legislation that would require school districts to implement anti-bullying plans, and report bullying incidents to the state.

Several members on the House Education Committee said House Bill 2310 was too broad, but Chairman Clay Aurand, R-Courtland, said he hoped the committee could "make this a bill that is best able to achieve its goals."

SuEllen Fried of Prairie Village, a longtime mental health advocate who has written several books on bullying, said youngsters today are confronted with much worse bullying practices than in the past, including cyberbullying where people write demeaning comments to children over the Internet.

"It is just as serious as beating kids up in the playground," she said.

Aishlinn O'Connor and Kate O'Neill, both students at Shawnee-Mission East High School said bullying behavior also manifests itself in excluding students from certain groups or jokes between friends that denigrate someone.

Fried and Gina McDonald, vice president of education and awareness for the Kansas Children's Service League, said victims of bullying sometimes lash out. School shootings are often the result of a student reacting to being bullied, they said.

"For the victim who either gives up and avoids going to school, or drops out, or commits suicide, or comes back to school with a gun, this is child abuse and they believe they have no other way out," McDonald said.

Twenty-seven states have anti-bullying laws in place, and nine more are considering them.

But lobbyists for teachers and schools said the proposed measure could be expensive for schools by mandating specific requirements for districts to follow in the event of a bullying incident.

Diane Gjerstad, representing the Wichita school district, said it would be better to leave it to individual school districts to come up with policies. The KNEA also testified against the bill.

State Rep. Marti Crow, D-Leavenworth, said she thought the definition of bullying in the bill was too broad and could include any misbehavior. She also said the bill should focus more on providing anti-bullying education.

In Lawrence, school officials have implemented the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in four elementary schools.

Chris Squier, director of the Safe Schools-Healthy Students initiative, said the program has resulted in a 50 percent decrease in bullying at Langston Hughes and Woodlawn, which have had the program the longest.

"In the past people thought being bullied was just a part of growing up, but because of school violence that has been tied to bullying, people have begun to realize that we need to do something about it," Squier said.

She said a statewide mandate would increase awareness of bullying, but anti-bullying efforts should be tailored for each individual school with input from students, parents and teachers.

"People can then come to an agreement that in this building this is what bullying means, and everyone will be looking for it and see it and deal with it," she said.


quigley 11 years, 2 months ago

OMG. What ever happend to sticking up for yourself and punching that bully back? Old self-esteam boosters and life lessons are no longer a part of our society like they once were.

ModerateOne 11 years, 2 months ago

This just in. Kansas Legislature is considering a measure which would ban laws that sound good but don't actually do anyone any good.

Cait McKnelly 11 years, 2 months ago

Heh. This legislation comes about 40 years too late for me. I was bullied all through Jr. High and most of High School. Although physical violence was a component, most acts were simply threatening, intimidating behavior toward me simply because I came from a poor family and didn't "fit in". For instance in Jr. High School, 2 girls spit on me to the point where my hair was soaked in saliva. Another knocked my books out of my arms and when I bent over to pick them up she planted her size 8 in my butt and sent me sprawling face first to the floor. This type of thing was an almost daily occurence. Most horrifying was that it took place IN SCHOOL right under the eyes (and I mean that literally) of teachers who simply turned their heads and ignored it as if it never happened. As painful and scarring as the physical violence was, the isolation was almost worse. No one played with me, no one ate lunch with me, I was always the last one picked for sports teams in gym. I was the pariah, the "painted crow". I became so withdrawn and introverted that at 16 my mother insisted on taking me to counseling. It probably saved my life. That doesn't mean the scars aren't still there 40 years later. Obviously neither of the previous two posters were ever abused at the hands of their schoolmates. And I do mean ABUSED. However I don't doubt that they didn't observe it during their school years and may have even participated.

Bobbi Walls 11 years, 2 months ago

My child attends Woodlawn, and I have to say that the bullying program is great. This program should be adopted in all schools, it does help. And bullying starts as young as kindergarten.

shirinisb 11 years, 2 months ago

"OMG. What ever happend to sticking up for yourself and punching that bully back? Old self-esteam boosters and life lessons are no longer a part of our society like they once were."

The problem with kids "duking it out" is that children are no longer children. Fists have become knives and guns.

Also, teachers don't care anymore. Unfortunately there are children who are afraid to go to school each day because of bullying. Some even want to commit suicide. This shows that parents need to be IN their children's business 24/7 no matter how uncool or time consuming it is. Children have most interaction with their friends at school, if they do not want to go to school on a regular basis that is a huge cry for help. It's not just normal pre-teen/teenage drama.

Confrontation 11 years, 2 months ago

Most children get their cruel behaviors from their useless parents. Hold the parents responsible when their brats torture other students. These kids aren't coming from happy families. They see their parents ridicule other people and beat on their own children. What do these parents expect?

Cait McKnelly 11 years, 2 months ago

By the way, the current policy of the Lawrence Public Schools is a "no tolerance" policy toward violence of any kind. This INCLUDES hitting back. Children are told that the ONLY time it is condoned is if they are literally cornered and trapped and cannot run away. Self defense is NOT an acceptable excuse if there is a way out. Even pinning an attacker down and holding them so they can't hit you isn't acceptable as long as there is a place to run away to and an adult to tell.

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