Bullying is a problem that has been going on in school for years, and generally speaking it is taking place in every school across our country. As I mentioned in part 1 of this discussion it has once again come to the forefront of the media because a number of kids have not been able to have their voice heard before deciding it was better to end their lives than fight the struggle of being bullied. I have recently come forward, as a teacher, to co-ordinate a bullying awareness presentation to students in our school.
“Why would I want to do this?” you might be asking yourself. Well, bullying has always been present, but in recent months there have been a number of incidents that have come to my attention. Bullying makes me sick, and when I heard about these incidents at our school and around our community, I felt it was time to address the issue. Once serious incident occurred a few weeks ago with a student and it got my attention. Since then my wheels have been turning and I have been trying to find a way to make students more aware of the problem that we have. Kids tormenting other kids and calling them down to dirt simply for the laugh coming from their friends or classmates.
Part of my master plan was to start this blog series, but also to find some way of addressing the problem. I not want to sound like just another teacher telling kids to stop hurting other kids, I get the feeling that will not be particularly effective. Instead, I have been discussing the problem with students to get their feedback and see how much of a problem it really is. A number of my grade 12 students have been very vocal in telling me about various incidents that have happened both in and out of school.
After hearing about these incidents I decided it was time to take a stand. In the coming week, I will be coordinating a bullying awareness project with my grade 12’s. We will be planning on a high impact way to address the issue to students, and let them know that others are willing to help. We will be creating a complete multimedia presentation that will (hopefully) bring the problem to light.
I was pleased to find out today, that my weeks of contemplating just how I will be doing this will not be gone to waste. My organization along with the outspoken group of grade 12 students we hope to put a stop to incidents like the ones I will describe below.
The following are true stories about bullying victims that I have heard in recent months. I have changed their names for privacy.
Victim # 1
Fourteen year old Timmy and has Asperger’s Syndrome as well as a variety of allergies. Since people Asperger’s often have difficulty interacting in highly social environments, so Timmy is somewhat isolated in a crowd and tries to keep to himself. As a result, he is often a target for ridicule during class. Classmates throw stuff at him, make snide comments to him and torment him on a regular basis. Timmy gets frustrated from this, but, lucky for him his condition minimizes the emotional aspect of this torment.
Recently, Timmy, who carries a lifeline with him at all times because of his severe allergies, was in phys ed. class, when one of his classmates took his lifeline and refuse to give it back. Timmy was caught in the middle unable to get the device back, and was forced to chance classmates in a vain effort to get it back. To make matters worse, the entire “game” of keep-away was recorded on a cell phone, where it could have ended up on the internet for all to see and mock.
On the one hand, it is good that Timmy’s video never made it passed the phone, but on the other hand, it should never have happened.
Victim # 2
Fourteen year old Jason has a learning disability and speech impediment. Every day Jason goes to school he is told to “get lost” because no one wants to be around him. Jason spends a lot of time by wandering the corridors by himself because no one else will even take time to talk to him.
Jason is a good kid. Every day, at least twice a day, I get a visit from Jason. He will come to my classroom to have a chat for a few minutes before classes begin or after school.
During the summer Jason would often be seen walking the community by himself. He would always say that he was looking for friends to hang out with, or that the people he was with left him.
Victim # 3
Fifteen year old Sarah has a speech impediment, and is fairly new to the school community. Since her arrival she and her sister have had to endure some mockery from the other kids. Most likely because she was new or different in some way.
One day Sarah wanted to get ready and go to a dance with her friends. Only to be told by her “friends” that she was “retarded” and there was no way they would get ready and go to the dance with her.
Lucky for Sarah, an older student heard about this incident. The older student took Sarah under her wing and encouraged her to stick up for herself, because she did not need friends like that anyway. This same older student went so far as to ask Sarah to meet up with her to get ready and the two would go to the dance.
These three victims’ stories are true. They are among the reasons for standing up to bullying and addressing the problem in hopes to help kids like these through the struggle. The older student in Sarah’s story is just one of those who will be helping with this project, as she sees the importance of taking a stand, and helping to put a stop to bullying.
All kids, including Jason, Timmy and Sarah have the right to attend school or be out in the community and be safe from harm. It is not an unreasonable expectation to be safe and comfortable wherever you are. The goal of our project will be to help make at least one of their lives better.