Bullies Ruin the School Experience
I was picked on during my younger school days. I’m not complaining; that’s just the way things were back then. The bigger kids picked on the younger students, and the trickle-down effect led to a few bullies in the school.
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Nov 01, 2011
Don’t get me wrong; there were plenty of good kids and students,
but there were bullies who had to take out their aggression on the
98-pound weaklings. I fell into that category.
Let’s get one thing straight right now: Bullying is wrong.
Bullying goes against everything that schools stand for. A school
should be a safe haven filled with opportunities to learn and grow; it
is a place for children to expand upon their perceived talents and
abilities, a place to be nurtured and treasured.
Today’s grown-ups are rightfully concerned about the state of education
in the United States. Among their concerns are funding levels
for schools and whether standards on which those schools are judged
truly reflect students’ performance.
When discussing the social climate at schools, adults would do
better to ask for input from the students about bullying and other
types of harassment. Why? Because one-third of students between
the ages of 12 and 18 reports being bullied at school. This includes
verbal harassment in the form of ridicule or rumors.
The National School Board Association (NSBA) has launched a
campaign that facilitates face-to-face meetings between students and
school board members. In fact, the Department of Education has
awarded $38.8 million to states to measure school safety and intervene
in schools with the greatest need. NSBA is encouraging school
board members to meet with groups of students and ask point-blank
questions, such as: “Do you feel safe at school?” and “Do you feel
respected by teachers and staff?”
“I don’t think we can solve [the problem] without the students,”
said NSBA President Mary Broderick.
Students can improve the dialog about improving a school’s climate,
and if teachers, administrators or even parents would listen,
students would be the source of a wealth of data. It also is a great
opportunity for educators to show students they are listening and are
aware of and acting on the problems of bullying.
A great example of a school addressing bullying and cyber-bullying
is Liberty Common High School in Fort Collins, Colo. Its policy
is clear, and if the policy is not enforced, parents can pull their children
from the school.
Schools that successfully thwart bullying have common characteristics
and are worthy of further attention by policymakers and school officials.
For starters, schools should offer an ambitious, well-ordered curriculum
that challenges all students. Behavioral expectations should be
clear, concise and plainly stated. All students should be fully occupied
with schoolwork, homework and edifying extracurricular activities.
Instructors should be competent and skilled in pushing all students
to higher levels of academic achievement. Parents should be
active and engaged in the school.
Most importantly, parents who find these standards are not being
maintained by their students’ school should be free to move their
children to schools that do.
“When I began my work as education commissioner in Rhode
Island, I pledged that every decision I would make would be in the
best interest of the students,” said Deborah A. Gist, who still retains
that position. “To make sure we are working in the best interest of
students, it is essential to meet with students and to hear their voices
and their concerns.”
Keith Welner, professor of education at the University of Colorado
in Boulder, said students should be asked to speak about not just
whether their schools have anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies,
but also whether those policies are known and enforced.
Bullying undermines the safe learning environment that students
need to achieve their full potential. Reforming
public education in the sensible direction of
having school choice, parental empowerment
and truly professional (non-union) educators
is an imperative first step toward relieving the
bullying affliction. By stingily maintaining its
monopoly status (at the expense of parenting),
government bureaucrats and
their political allies are themselves
“And, like all scoundrels,
deserve the firmest
still value freedom,”
said Bob Schaffer, chairman
of the Colorado State Board
of Education, and former
This article originally appeared in the November 2011 issue of Security Today.
Ralph C. Jensen is the Publisher of Security Today magazine.