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Parents Talk: Can Schools Be Free of Bullying?

A Prevention of School Bullying task force is studying bullying in Minnesota, but can new policies and laws help prevent the problem?

When I was in junior high more than 20 years ago, bullying existed. 

I remember two girls in my seventh grade junior high choir class – and yes, I can still picture their faces and remember their names – which routinely made it their mission in life to pick on others.

I, like many others, just tried to avoid these two girls as much as possible – which didn’t always work.

Fast-forward more than 20 years and it doesn’t seem like a lot has changed. We still hear stories of bullying incidents time and time again.

I do think some schools are being more proactive in telling students and parents what to do about bullying incidents. But, I don’t know if the culture has changed much in some schools. There are still circumstances where some schools aren’t doing enough to prevent and stop bullying.

Minnesota’s bullying law actually received a C- last year from a national watchdog group, according to a recent Star Tribune article, which was apparently the lowest passing grade in the country.

But, can changing the policies and laws make our schools free of bullying?

A Prevention of School Bullying task force was created by Gov. Mark Dayton last year and met for the first time this week.  It was created to “examine the state of bullying, harassment and intimidation in Minnesota schools, including existing laws and regulations,” according to the Minnesota Department of Education website

"We are beginning to acknowledge the fact that bullying is a public health issue, a mental health issue and a physical health issue," said task force member Walter Roberts, a Minnesota State University anti-bullying expert, according to the Star Tribune article. "Reports are coming in at such a level that we can't ignore it anymore."

The group is tasked with defining bullying, harassment and intimidation and to provide recommendations for policy initiatives to the Governor and Legislature, Minnesota Department of Education says on its website.

With bullying continuing for decades, I have to admit I’m skeptical on whether much will change with the amount of bullying that happens in schools.

As a society, I feel like we’ve been aware of this problem for years. Changes have happened and awareness has increased, which are positive strides forward, but as the old saying goes “the more things change, the more things stay the same.”

Hopefully, my doubts will be proven wrong.

It’s your turn to share your thoughts. Can schools ever be free of bullying? Will changing state policies and laws make a difference? Share your viewpoint in comments. 

rob_h78 April 12, 2012 at 09:42 PM
I completely agree. I knew some what would be considered bullies in high school - or perhaps they were beyond that - they were pretty tough guys (maybe areas like Plymouth as "Christmas Story" bullies but other places, well, not so much) - so it would be very, very unlikely that someone who did not know how to fight and was not pretty darn good at fighting was suddenly going to go all "Bruce Lee" on them... And if "Bruce Lee" showed up it would more likely it would be at least 3 or 4 guys to take on, as it was about power, not being "fair". But, if someone did get the better of them at some point, I can assure you that they were simply not going to let it go, they would track the person down and at some point there would be revenge and it would not be pretty...
rob_h78 April 12, 2012 at 09:48 PM
There is no way to prevent bullying - like there is no way to prevent muggings or anything else in society. What you can do is have policies in place that are adhered to so that there are repercussions that are swift and known and that can be quickly escalated if the "bully" doesn't cut it out. In schools, where they have a real responsibility since by law the child is required to be in the school each day, they should never sweep bullying under the carpet and should have strict policies that are immediately enacted to get the bottom of the issue and if there is an issue to start dealing with it right away. At least you can then start to separate the "wanna-be" bullies from the thugs and start to narrow down the population that has to be really dealt with.
rob_h78 April 12, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Um, not so much. The bullies I knew, if you got he better of them, would later track you down and somewhere, sometime you would find yourself with 4 or 5 guys around you beating the tar out of you... and no, they didn't care about being "fair" or anything else and at some point they would leave you lying on the ground where you would then crawl away to find help... Of course then I am sure you would call the cops or other authorities - or would you take the beating and then practice Bruce Lee moves some more for the rematch? So, yeah, I can't speak for bullies back in the olden days, nor can I speak for bullies in upper middle income areas like Plymouth but I can assure you that there are plenty of places where "bullies" would not let it go even if you gave them a good "poke" to the nose...
amy carol April 20, 2012 at 01:06 PM
I was just sitting heere this a.m.thinking about yet another case of bulling in our public scholl. I am so saddened by this because it seems as though the bullies have more rights than the one being bullied . No one wants to address it ,It is as though they are affraid to address the bullies parents .They are making every excuse about the one being bullied we need assemblies in our schools with kids that have bullied and the victums telling there stories...Kids need to hear it from there peers... The parents need to be held accountable as well. the teachers need to be held accountable .. there are to many senceless dealth because of this....
Wendy Erlien April 24, 2012 at 06:24 PM
According to the Minnesota Department of Education, the Bullying Prevention Task Force will be holding a listening session in Rochester on Thursday, April 26 to "...provide the opportunity for stakeholders to provide information and insight to task force members that will inform the group’s final recommendations to Governor Dayton and the legislature." http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/Welcome/News/PressRel/043673 What would you tell task force members if you went to a listening session?

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