The code of the school has always been the same–don’t tell, don’t squeal–or you are a rat. However, the dangers of going to school have not always been the same. The advent of violence in schools is not from back in “the day”. Bullying to some degree dates from earlier times, but not with the vengeance, permanent injuries and damage that we see endured today. So we need a new, more truthful code. If you report bullying, you are a hero, not a snitch. You probably just saved someone from grievous harm, and certainly from harassment, embarrassment, and the destruction of their self worth. Remember, when you Report Bullying, you are not a snitch!
Sexual Bullying and Homophobia
Programs have been initiated throughout the school districts in several American states to thwart bully mentalities and make tolerance and kindness a priority. Most of the initiatives were begun for the Gay Rights advocacy and the tragedies of bullying gay children to the point of suicide. However, there are other topics that strangely give birth to bullying that have nothing to do with homosexuality, homophobia or sexualities. Safe Schools has a structured educator agenda listing multiple and step by step teaching plans from elementary school through high school, including home exercises and therapies. The hands on approach leaves no leaf unturned and no insult uncovered. While such programs in public schools have some backlash and complaints due to the discussion of gay issues, the agenda of this program strives to not be Pro any life style while teaching advocacy of non-bullying and tolerance.
When making progress on the Gay Rights issues we must as parents and onlookers not be blinded into only seeing homophobic bullying as the problem. Today, this month, this year, it is the cause with priority. But underneath, there are still bullies out there who will take their unrelated malcontent and anger out on the innocent and those unable to fight back in the same arena. It would be a shame to conquer the stigma fought in the Gay Rights battles and then find that our children are still being beaten, tormented, embarrassed and frightened at school where they should be as safe as at their home.
The GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) organization has made inroads toward recognition and tempering the bullying overwhelming children who are homosexual or have gay parents. There will be more to do as time goes on, but a beginning is a cause for celebration.
Disabled Children or Special Needs Are High Risk
The same organized clout against bullying against children with impediments or disabilities should be displayed as has been successful for the LGBS organization. Groups making it known that bullying or any level of harassment will not be accepted, permitted, or ignored will make a major difference in the lives of those being harassed.
Report Bullying: Race, Ethnicity, and National Origin
It is not clear how often kids get bullied because of their race, ethnicity, or national origin and it is just as confounding how often kids of the same group bully each other. Research is still ongoing. But least research is happening. We do know, however, that Black and Hispanic youth who are bullied are more likely to show it in low grades than their white peers undergoing bullying, too.
No specialized interventions have yet been developed or identified for these groups. Federal partners developed materials for specific racial and ethnic minority groups. The Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services has developed a series of materials for American Indian and Alaskan Native youth called “Stand Up, Stand Strong.”
When bullying based on race or ethnicity is severe, pervasive, or persistent it may be considered harassment, which is covered under federal civil rights laws.
Religion and Faith
Very little research has explored bullying based on religious differences. In fact, discussion of religion and faith in schools itself is prohibited for the most part, which would take the bullying against faith or creed to a more subversive undercover level. Bullying for faith or religion may have less to do with a person’s beliefs and more to do with misinformation or negative perceptions about how someone expresses that belief. We really do not know much of the creeds of neighbors of other faiths in this country, and that may spark resentments of the unknown or imagined.
Muslim girls who wear hijabs (head scarves), Sikh boys wearing patka or dastaar (turbans), and Jewish boys wearing yarmulkes report bullying. These items are sometimes used as the tools against youth when they are forcefully removed by others. Several reports also indicate a rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Sikh bullying since 9/11 that may have roots in imagined association of their heritage and terrorism.
When bullying based on religion is severe, pervasive, or persistent, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division may be able to intervene under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act. Often religious harassment is not based on the religion itself but on shared ethnic characteristics. When harassment is based on shared ethnic characteristics, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights may be able to intervene under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
In recent years the social network, Facebook, was used individually to bully two young girls for no apparent reason. One was new to her school, from Ireland, and another was simply selected by two other girls to be a victim of their malicious bullying. Both cases, in different states and years, received national attention after each victim became so devastated she committed suicide. This year a young boy took his life to escape a senseless and ceaseless episodic bullying. This is far worse than any “tsk tsking” will cover, for this is the death of young people for no reason other than someone else tormented them beyond endurance.
Relative to the internet, the following is a list of terms used in internet bullying and would be helpful in how to report bullying:
- cyber = internet
- cyber stalking = the act of “following” a persons activities on the internet site in order to confront, harass, insult them
- cyber bash = the act of harassing someone verbally on the internet
- slappyhappy = the act of physically hitting someone, videoing the affront and displaying the attack on mobile
- cyber bullycide = when a suicide was promoted and caused by internet bullying
- cyber flash = showing private videos of another person on the internet to humiliate or harass them; sometimes the videos are fraudulent but harm is still done to the victim
A Snitch in Time
To snitch takes nerve. It also takes caring about others to the point that you are willing to sacrifice a little of your own quasi-popularity with the masses in order to right a beastly wrong. My mother had a saying: “By an inch, a cinch; By a yard, ’tis hard!” It was a Southern woman’s way of instructing me in the blessing of patience and perseverance. Truer words were never spoken.
October Anti-Bullying Month – Do Something Group
We as parents must watch and listen and teach our children to be little heroes and “snitch” We as parents must watch and listen and snitch on bullying, ourselves, and not wait for school teachers to step in. I would well respect a school system that awarded emblems to be worn by those who have advised authorities of bullying and helped in some way affect the rehabilitation of the victim. October has been designated Anti-Bullying Month by Do Something, the largest national non-profit group of students who have made great strides in battling injustices. Among their causes is fighting bullying in many forms, and keeping it before the public by having product sales countering bullying actions such as tee shirts, bracelets, pencils, banners.
Bullying may be a more difficult villain to defeat than even breast cancer, considering our bullying youth have become so obviously self-centered and insensitive. Our cause is to inspire them to want to be on the right side. Just as our ancestors put their faith in the youth of their day, we must attempt to turn our younger generation around so we can put our faith in them.