October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

By Carly Reisman, CFCC Student Fellow 2012-2013

Last week during my Truancy Court Program (TCP) session at Walter P. Carter Elementary/Middle School I met a third grader who had recently been bullied.  She said that a boy in her class had been teasing her lately and had even spit on her.  She said that she told her teachers but that one of them did nothing.  This immediately sparked anger inside of me.  I thought back to the previous week when I had first met this elementary school student and remembered that she had been smiling and telling stories.  Just one week later she was depressed and quiet.

Right after my TCP session I read the news about 15-year-old Amanda Todd, another teen who took her life after being bullied. The teen posted a YouTube video, “My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm,” on September 7 and was found dead in her home town of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, just over a month later.  Bullying also made headlines in Maryland this week when a 15-year-old in Frederick County was charged with assault after his act of bullying was caught on camera.

It is fitting that October, 2012, is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.  It should be brought to everyone’s attention that studies have shown that children who have been identified as a bully by age eight are six times more likely to have a criminal conviction by age 24. Children who are bullies may continue to be bullies as adults, and are more prone to becoming child and spouse abusers.  Thus, it becomes even more apparent that bullying needs to be stopped so that cycles like these can be stopped.

I hope by the time I see my third grader from TCP next week that her situation has been addressed and that the bullying has been stopped.  Baltimore City schools do have a system in place for bullying; that is, the parent can first call and report it to the school verbally, followed by filing a Bullying & Harassment Form.  If the parent is still unsatisfied, they can then contact the Office of Student Support through the Safety Hotline at 410-396-SAFE, which ensures that the incident is investigated within 2 school days.

Last week Baltimore held the Third Annual Bullying Prevention Conference where participants discussed the latest research and worked to develop solutions to tackle bullying in local schools.  I hope that throughout this month communities all over the country meet to discuss how they can best address the issues that bullying presents.  It may be helpful to look at the bullying situation through a therapeutic jurisprudence lens.  TJ looks at the law itself as a social force that can produce therapeutic or anti-therapeutic consequences.  By looking at bullying with a therapeutic jurisprudence perspective, insight might be shed on how to best implement anti-bullying tactics.  That is, it may be helpful to look at the bullying policies and rules in different schools and see how each one affects the students and the rates of bullying.  Through Therapeutic Jurisprudence it would be possible to analyze the different bullying laws utilized by each school and see how they may be affecting the children’s psyche in a negative or positive way, and how each rule effectively works to prevent bullying.

0 thoughts on “October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

  1. Great job on your entry. Providing information on anti-bullying resources was a nice touch. Your suggestion in reviewing the bullying policies and rules in each school through a therapeutic jurisprudence lens may perhaps benefit both the student and families to get involved in the process. The statistic on children identified as bullies between the age eight is startling. Although Baltimore City schools currently have a system in place to counteract bullying, perhaps more can be done to empower the student to seek help. Many incidents of bullying go undetected because students may be hesitant to speak to their families on this issue. So by empowering students to seek help on this issue without having to rely on their parents to advocate on their behalf may be beneficial. I share your sentiments in hoping that communities all over the country take time to address issues that bullying present. I believe more awareness should be brought to this prevalent issue.

  2. Great post Carly! I especially find the statistics about the propensity of children who are bullies being more likely to become abusers as adults interesting. I think sometimes there is a tendency to view bullying as just kids being kids and sometimes kids can be cruel. We don't always take the harm done to the children being bullied seriously enough and just encourage them to develop a thicker skin. As for the bullies, these statistics demonstrate the importance of early intervention. Violence is often a cycle. By intervening early to stop bullying, we not only protect the children who are currently being bullied but we can stop the cycle of violence and prevent future harms.

  3. Thank you for bringing up the issue of bullying. Bullying isn't new but has definitely received a lot of coverage over the past several years. This coverage has led to discussions and research on its effects. Bullying is prevalent in schools and in some cases, I do think that it leads to truant behaviors. Students having to deal with bullies may skip school altogether in order to avoid potential conflict, in addition to dealing with self esteem issues, that I also think affects how they pay attention in classes and keeping up with homework assignments. I think if we are able to put more money into our education system and lowering the students-to-teacher ratio, the students will be able to get more individualized attention and maybe some of these issues can be prevented. If possible, parents/guardians should be able to recognize any changes in behavior and take a more proactive approach in understanding the child. I think the Truancy Court Program helps in bringing some of these issues out and by getting both teachers and parents involved in the child's life, it can find solutions before these issues spiral out of control.

  4. Thanks for writing about bullying. I was bullied in elementary and middle school. When I was in elementary school, we didn't have a middle school so kindergarten through eight grade were all in the same building. Between second and third grade, a sixth grade boy who got off at the same bus stop as me would walk behind me as I walked home and call me “Gandhi” and tell me to go back to my country, despite me yelling back at him that I was born here. He would sometimes throw rocks at me. In third grade, my brother started kindergarten so he and his little friend would walk home with me from the bus stop. That bully, then in the seventh grade, would throw rocks at me, AND the two kindergartners I walked home with. Eventually my brother and his friend started carrying rocks in their pockets to throw back at him. It's so sad when I think about it now that I didn't think to tell anyone, didn't allow my brother to tell my parents, and didn't try to discuss it with anyone at school. I was so ashamed of being “foreign” that I thought it was somehow my fault. (Side note: it wasn't because I was foreign, turned out that the bully was best friends with one of my cousins, who eventually told him to knock it off).Anyway, the Amanda Todd story was so upsetting. Even after she committed suicide, bullies made memes and facebook pages that made fun of her, went on pages that were made in her memory and talked negatively about her. It's just heartbreaking that even in death, that poor girl was still bullied. It boggles my mind that people can be that mean and ruthless. TJ might be a good approach to the issue of bullying – where instead of punishing the bully, we work together to get to the root of the bullying and help rehabilitate the bully.

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