No parent or teacher wants to hear that their child/student or a child they know is a victim of bullying, harassment or abuse. Worse yet, that their child IS the bully doing harm to other children, family or friends. It is a known fact, that if bullying is not addressed in the home and at school, the abuse will escalate. Parents, school officials and the community must work together to ensure the safety of “at risk” children, and put a stop to the ones doing the harm! Is your child the rabbit or the bear?
Know the facts, research state and federal laws to see if your school, community are doing everything they can to prevent, educate and stop the bullying in your area. Learning about the laws, legislation and the lawmakers taking action in our government is the first step. Whether your child is the rabbit or the bear, knowing how to stop it-shows you care!
The Bear Facts on Bullying
The facts are alarming-it is fact that one out of seven children report being a victim of bullying or taken part in a bullying action. More alarming, 56% of students have witnessed bullying, 71% of students report bullying incidents to school officials, and 282,000 school students are attacked physically in middle schools. These facts; put together by the National Education Association also estimate that 160,000 children daily, miss school to avoid attacks and intimidation by other students.
The most alarming fact-75% of school shootings are committed, as a result of years of bullying and harassment that ends in suicide. Bullying becoming a motive for revenge. A student, that has been a victim of bullying will escalate if not treated properly. It is also a fact that one out of 20 students have seen/or know a student that has brought a gun to school.
Knowing what to look for if you think your child is being bullied or is the bully- is a parents best defense. There are three types of bullying:
- Verbal Bullying-inappropriate, taunting or threatening comments in person or on-line
- Social or Relational Bullying-intentional actions to harm the individual through social, public and personal relationships
- Physical Bullying-the intent of causing physical harm to the individual or belongings of the individual
Most bullying occurrences happen during or after school hours, on/off school grounds, in your child’s neighborhood and on-line. Bullying begins as early as kindergarten, victims range from children to senior citizens. Most bullies exhibit increased warning signs, that just should not be ignored!
Now that the bear is out of the bag, bullies are now using the internet to cause harm. In 2011, it was reported by the CDC that 20% of high school students; grades 9-12, experienced some type of cyber bullying either at school or at home. Unfortunately, some of these cases have resulted in suicide.
If your child is being bullied, you may notice changes in behavior, activities and physical health. However, not all children that are being bullied ask for help or show signs they are being bullied. Here, some signs parents and educators can look for are:
- Lost or destroyed items; clothing, homework or books
- Decline in grades; lack of interest, missing school
- Avoidance of social, school activities
Down The Rabbit Hole-The Laws & Legislation
Anti-bullying laws are in effect in 45 states throughout the US, including bills for informing and educating schools and communities. Which provides training to school staff, state agencies and neighborhoods that want to make a change! Unfortunately, to date there are no federal laws protecting victims of bullying. These states each base legislation on personal experience, handling the incidents through the families and counseling at schools. “Is that really fair?” said the rabbit to the bear.
Currently the anti-bullying laws in place fits the needs of each state, according to state statistics. Most cyber bullying legislation is based on statistics provided by state officials. Although there is controversy surrounding the fact it sheds light on existing laws that need to change-some do not like change. That is why federal cyber bullying laws need to be in affect, as technology increases so does the abuse!
With exception to more severe cases of bullying, there are federal education laws in place when bullying becomes an issue at a federally funded institute. These cases involve discrimatory harassment based on race, nationality, religion or disability. Schools/universities must launch an investigation, and resolve the matter. These bullying cases are covered under federal civil rights laws, federal disability laws, and the federal special education law.
The Paws of The Laws
When state laws do not seem to help, there are civil rights laws put in place to protect the victim at any education level, by the US Department of Education and Department of Justice. These special education federal laws, fall under the Title VI of Civil Rights Act of 1964. When a bully attacks/harasses based on race, color, sex, nationality or disability-then it becomes a civil rights violation. Some parents launch investigations through schools, some parents may prefer to seek legal counsel-either way the issue should be addressed. There are many organizations on-line and state offices to help inform, prevent and educate.
Each day a student somewhere is being bullied, this is a nation-wide epidemic that requires the attention of federal lawmakers to make change. Our children are our future, are we really going to stand back anymore and let the bear get the rabbit? We can start at home, build confidence and self-esteem with every day-it is also a fact that confident children do not fall prey to bullies. Make it your business to know what goes on/off the playground, classroom and neighborhood-get to know your neighborhood bullies. Let them know, it is NOT tolerated in the community. Be sure as a parent, to become involved if you recognize any symptoms of bullying. Take immediate action if you think you have a bully in the family!