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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Who Should Be Responsible When Children Bully To Death?

This is a topic that all parents should be interested in. I really got thinking about this when I heard the other day about a 15 year old girl who committed suicide after being bullied at school. Bullying is probably not the appropriate term, in my mind, it was more like harassment, cruelty, and just plain hatefulness. This girl moved from Ireland, to some place in MA. She began to date a boy on the football team. The ex girlfriend of the football player, and her friends immediately targeted this girl. The relentlessly started nasty untrue rumors about her, along with other incessant bully tactics. With the internet, and text messaging this girl reportedly had no escape. The second case I heard about was a boy in Tampa took his own life after he was bullied at school. He even changed to a different school, and the offender followed him to that school so the bullying could continue. Obviously these are extreme cases, but if no one puts a stop to it, this is what it can lead to. So my question is who is responsible, and accountable to stop bullying? Why as a society do we feel bullying is just part of being a kid, and the growing up experience? I have heard lots of people actually say that, so I am not just pulling it out of the air. Also, I have seen teachers, and parents who look the other way when these things happen not only at school, but in public places. When did society become so cruel, that we just look the other way, or maybe it has always been that way? Now these are my thoughts on what to do about bullying.

1- Obviously awareness, and education is always at the top of my list.
2- Children are the ones that should be accountable for their actions. These children mentioned above were 17, and 18 years old, with the exception of the boy who was 15. 17, and 18 is close to being considered an adult. There is no reason you should not be held accountable for the things you do. Harassment at the very least should be the charge considered, and probably stalking in the cases I mentioned. I would never want a child to have a ruined life, but when do we tell children they simply must be accountable for their own actions? All these slaps on the wrist, because we don't want it to affect their future really just is not working, and is really unfair to the children they targeted.
3- As for teachers they are culpable if they know it is occurring, and choose to look the other way. Schools need policies that hold children accountable for their actions on school property, and then it has to be enforced. It has to be known that doing these things can affect your future to get into college, maybe even get a job, if you can't get along with others. Of course it has to be a tiered level thing. Not all bullying is the same, but we have seen it certainly can escalate into things everyone is sorry for.
4- As for parents, again you are responsible for knowing what your children are texting, and doing on their computers. You are technically responsible for your children, until the age of 18. You can be sued, in a civil court, if someone decided to do so. Is it worth it? Of course you can not watch your children all the time, or know what they do when they are with their friends, but good communication, and monitoring the things you can, might put a stop to all this nonsense. Most importantly setting a good example. Children learn what they see, and what they live.

We all have to live with the decisions we make in life. If you were hateful, vengeful, or just plain cruel to someone or something, on a regular every day basis, you have to live with that. Is it worth it in the end, maybe reminding yourself every day of the things you have done to others is the ultimate punishment in the end. Living with what you have done.

Tell me what you think on this topic. I want to know what people think, and how you think it can be stopped, or if it should be stopped. Some people seem to think this is just part of growing up, and being a child. I disagree. Sometimes doing the right thing is the hardest thing to do.


Kristy said...

Great post Ms. Melissa. As you already know we have been victims of bullying with our daughter Rebecca. She even left a school to get away from the girl who was bullying her and that girl followed her to the new school and then she showed up at a church function where the girl nearly beat my daughter to a pulp. I am anxious to hear what people think we should do to stop this epidemic because when we called the cop to file something against this girl he told us there was nothing he or anyone else could do. So, basically it takes another child to kill you child in order to have anything done. This topic is close to my heart and I always cringe and feel sadness and anger when I see all these things on the news about bullying and kids dying because of it. If there was a group I could start to help prevent and deal with this issue I would be the first to sign up. So, please tell me what you think should be done?

Melissa said...

Personally I think the bullyers should be shamed. I think that is the only way they will stop is to make their deeds public, and in a negative way.

Kristy said...

I think that is a great idea but how do you go about implementing something like that and actually getting a law to pass in order to do this to the bullies so they can be publicly shamed? I love this idea though. Great idea! If you know of a way to do this let me know because I will be the first to start trying to get it started.

Melissa said...

Ms Kristy you need to read this link I am going to share. I did some research and Florida does have new anti bully laws and they are stiff. I am not sure if it will apply because Rebecca was at church when the fight occured, but it appears the school does have to stop bullying at school, on school property, and activities or they can lose funding. I would suggest you save this link, then send it to the superintendent of your school district, especially if she is still being bullied by this girl. Kudos to Florida, I hope other states take notice, and this definitely needs to be enforced. The mother I spoke of about the boy in Tampa is the one who lobbied to get this passes, so we all owe her a big thank you.

Kristy said...

Wow..thank you Ms. Melissa for sharing this link with me. I will definitely keep it saved to my favorites and start researching what I can do about my certain situation. Thank you for all the research you did on this too. We need more parents like you that are concerned and want to do something about these matters.

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