All Articles Tagged "school bullying"
As Dharun Ravi publicly suffers from the impact of webcam bullying his former college roommate, having stood trial and sentenced to jail in an unprecedented case, kids all over the nation continue to experience the crippling effects of bullying. And it seems that the victims keep getting younger and younger. The latest high profile case of bullying has taken place in Harlem and it’s apparent that if this incident doesn’t promote the nation’s dialogue around how to handle peer harassment in schools, then nothing will.
On Tuesday night, the mother of Joel Morales found her 12-year-old son hanging from a shower rod in their Harlem apartment. He was said to have told a friend hours earlier that he was “tired of all this bullying.”
According to the New York Daily News:
Relatives said the tragedy unfolded after the fifth-grader had been teased for months by schoolyard bullies, prompting Babilonia to get him transferred from Public School 102 to Public School 57. Police said Joel did not leave a suicide note. “I know in my heart it was bullying that made him do it,” Joel’s sister, Richeliss Salazar, 23, told the Daily News.
Angelica Babilonia said even after Joel transferred to his new school, bullies at his old school continued to torment him in the neighborhood. “He said that a bunch of kids from his old school jumped him and chased him,” the aunt said. “He would ignore them, but there were too many to fight back.” Angelica Babilonia said that around December or January her nephew switched to PS 57 after four boys knocked on Joel’s door and threw sticks and a pipe at him when he opened it.
The attack prompted a police report and an intervention by the principal at PS 102, who met with Joel, Babilonia, the boys involved and their parents or guardians to try to stop the bullying, the relatives said. Joel was transferred shortly after the meeting and Babilonia took out an order of protection against the ringleader of the fifth graders picking on her son, relatives said. They said Babilonia even asked New York Housing Authority officials to move her and her son to another housing project, but her request was denied.
The final straw, however, came after a bully teased Morales about his dead father, according to relatives.
Incidents like these demonstrate just how critical it is for the nation to adopt strong policies against school bullying. Although parents and school officials were involved in resolving this matter, it’s apparent that the punishment for bullying is too weak to deter the rate of bullying across the nation.
Have you been involved in a case of school bullying? Were your schools’ or your child’s schools’ effective at resolving the matter?
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Recently, I came across the story of Nadin Khoury, a 13-year-old student from Upper Darby, PA, who had been kidnapped, beaten and hung upside down from a tree by several teens.
The assault was captured on one of the attacker’s cell phone camera and blasted live online for the world to see. Consequentially, it was also their foolish covet for accolades via the Internet that ultimately led to their arrest. The nitwit six, ranging in age from 13 to 17, are now probably fighting real bullies at juvy while they await a slew of charges.
I was originally avoiding this story for a couple of reasons: first, the blogs and articles about childhood bullying are already plentiful. Secondly, often times these incidences are used as an incentive for zero tolerant campaigns and legislation, which seek to further criminalize children without given thought to the particular reasons why a child might find themselves being a bully or being bullied.
However, there is one angle to this story worth mentioning and discussing, which is the reason why Khoury became a target. Besides being smaller in stature to the other boys, Khoury had said that his mother’s birthplace of Liberia was also a constant source of teasing and ridicule. The harassment of children from Africa by American-born blacks is unfortunate on so many levels. Here in Philadelphia, not far from where Khoury’s beating took place, there has been a surge in bullying attacks on African immigrant families.
Last year, there were several high-profiled attacks on African immigrant children, including the vicious beating of a 13-year-old Liberian boy in Southwest Philadelphia, who had been savagely beaten as he walked home from a nearby middle school.
There is no denying, our public school system needs a massive overhaul. Many of our students struggle academically, but why? Much of what we see as a result academically, has ties to deeper more intrinsic issues. Parenting a public school child nowadays is tough. Many of us cringe at the thoughts of what our child(ren) may be getting exposed to behind the walls of the campus halls. We hope that the values we believe in are not tainted by the views of other parents by way of their children. In addition, we trust that our public school educators ensure the safety and serenity of our children that come from strong households.
However, what course of actions should we take when the schools that we entrust with the safety of our children drop the ball? I mean, severely drop the ball! I have had the unfortunate privilege to work with Masika Bermudez. You remember her. She is the mother of the 11 year-old boy (Jaheem Herrera) in Dekalb County Georgia that committed suicide after being bullied repeatedly at school. She went to the school 11 times to file complaints but she was dismissed and overlooked each time. Sadly, the 11th time would lead to her losing her 11 year-old. Her life has changed, the son’s life has ended, yet, the bullies live on.
Here we are two years later and very little has changed. Last week, I was faced with a bullying debacle of my own. My 12 year-old son was given in-school suspension for defending himself against a bully; a decision by the school system I grossly disagree with it. He complained to the teacher 3 times with no resolution from her.
The bully gained more confidence to assault my son as he saw there was no retribution from the teacher. My son eventually punched the boy in his face and bloodied his nose. My son is very small for his age, as was I. I am 36 and STILL small for my age. When I was growing up I faced boys much bigger than me who tried to bully me. Take note of the key word, “tried.”
Back then, as well as today, bullies repeatedly picked on those who were not willing to defend themselves. I was the youngest of three boys who had to quickly learn how to defend myself. At times my brothers helped teach me, at other times they pushed me around. It made me tough, and over the years, less appealing to bullies, despite my small stature.
I tip my hat to the school system and the teachers in it. They have a very tough job being in the trenches with our children on a daily basis. They are doing their best to reduce violence in schools but I think failing to recognize the victims makes matters worse. Good children are joining bullies because they feel unprotected by the school system. True, zero tolerance policies are in place, but understand that laws are only for those who will abide by them, especially if the punishment is the same for the aggressor and the victim.
I am sorry school teachers, but bad kids do not fear you. So what we see are bad kids pushing around good kids, good kids afraid of the bully “and” getting into trouble, bullies knowing this, good kids remaining human punching bags and suffering humiliation on and off campus. But should schools care about what one child encounters off campus? That’s the million-dollar question.
There’s no surprise we have cases such as Kelley Williams-Bolar, an Akron, Ohio mom who was jailed for tampering with school records in order to get her daughters in better school districts. There can be voucher programs, charter schools, and resource officers to alleviate the anxiety parents feel sending their children into, what we often feel are, war zones. This is why a focus on familial dynamics is outlined in my latest book.
At the end of the day, I do not believe violence is the way to solve disputes but remember being bullied is not a dispute; it is unsolicited aggression that usually contains little negotiable resolutions. I believe it is poor justice to have children trying to teach the “turn the other cheek” philosophy to other children.
They are not equipped to explain why they turned the other cheek. I know I am not alone. There are millions of parents who refuse to tell their children to become victims. However, schools seem to sometimes have a stronger influence on our children than some parents. We then witness our children change almost overnight. They become depressed, reclusive or angry. Parents must deal with this long after the school bell rings and long after report cards are issued. When it comes to my son, I teach him to diffuse, but when he’s unsuccessful, defend. He is their student for now but he will be my son forever.
Devin Robinson is a business and economics professor and author of Rebuilding in the Black Infrastructure: Making America a Colorless Nation and Blacks: From the Plantation to the Prison. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.