What a rough piece of news that arrived last week. A young student in the nearby Liberty School District had been beaten by a bully at the school and severely injured. The young man accused of the attack had also allegedly bullied the victim’s older brother. Family of the boy hurt had earlier asked the school district to provide more protection. But an attack occurred anyway.
If we knew all that goes on in schools in Platte County, I hope we would not find such a severe case, but I’d bet there are bullying cases that school officials deal with regularly. They occurred in my school days decades ago.
What I wonder about is: what can all of us do to help the parents and school officials working to solve the problem?
Make no mistake, it is a centuries-old problem. But are there things we can change in our culture to reduce this problem?
With the Liberty case, my heart goes out to the beating victim and his family, the family of the alleged bully and the school officials, who I’m guessing feel terrible that this has happened.
I don’t know all details of this case.
The school district for legal and common sense reasons is guarded in public statements, but you know there are special meetings and measures occurring behind the scenes. Possibly reminders and checking of procedures are occurring in our Platte County schools, too.
Bullying should not occur.
Schools should be the safest public places in our communities. Mostly they are. Yet, I think the task is tough for school teachers and administrators.
Students pour in and out of hallways, classrooms, cafeterias and gyms in large groups. In the growing Northland, the number of students in a class is often quite large. There are programs both before and after schools where students are mingling with one another.
Keeping track of what’s going on everywhere all the time is a tough chore.
Some students come from difficult home situations. Some come to the hallways with major issues, even if they come from a good home. They come with super-charged energy levels and almost adult bodies. They come with minds child-like.
Perhaps they are even more child-like today in a world where computers and televisions are digitally linked and the movies and entertainment of childhood goes on a long time. Playing computer games in your spare time is a far different life than one lived by those of an earlier century. Even some kids of my school days had to do farm chores mornings and evenings around school time.
Work like that makes you wiser.
Those of even earlier generations had even more real-world experience by the time they hit the high school level. We can’t all raise our children on farms anymore, but as a society, we need to examine the insulated world we raise children in.
I think schools generally do a good job managing students these days, probably better than my long-gone school days. I was bullied a few times in my junior high years and knew of other instances. The most vulnerable young ones are usually the most picked on by shallow and insensitive individuals.
It is my impression that schools do far, far better today at working with students. There are more activities for varied interests that create healthy peer groups. There is more respect for a wide variety of school activities for youth. Counselors, administrators, social workers and police officers in our schools understand the psychological and social pressures students face.
But outside schools, for the rest of us as parents or neighbors or onlookers, there is also work to be done.
We must do all we can within our family and social circles to minimize intolerance. Compassion must be a highly celebrated trait. Schools are working at this, so must we in our daily lives.
Our young people today absorb much violence in their minds from media such as movies, television and music. Often the true human consequences from violence are minimized or eliminated from the entertainment.
Insensitivity fuels violence.
I hope school bullying rarely makes the news, but when it does, we must realize the victims and their families do not stand alone; many people are affected.
And we must be sensitive that in the big picture, we all play a role in prevention.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area with his family, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.