Eileen Roy: Take a stand against bullying

It is considered “cool” to exclude or harass someone who is new, different, or gay. Our job, as adults, is to make it “uncool.”

The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.

I am grateful to the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding for spearheading a campaign against bullying. Bullying has always been present in our schools, and social media and You Tube have made it worse. Cyberbullying is the newest form of bullying.

Due to several instances of bullying that have come to school board members’ attention, the school district has put new emphasis on this problem. There is a new Bullying link on our School District website (www.sbac.ed) which defines bullying and offers a new Bullying Hotline, which allows parents and students 3 ways to report bullying. The can lodge a complaint by phone, e-mail, or in person. Each complaint is investigated and the principal of the school consulted.

The bullying site also has other valuable links, including a film clip of the new, critically acclaimed movie “Bully”, which tells the stories of several students who have been bullied at school or on the school bus, the schools’ indifference, and the tragic consequences, including students who took their own lives when they could not take it anymore. We have all read stories in the news of these cases and they are heartbreaking. After the students’ suicides, classmates are filled with remorse and guilt for either participating in the bullying or for doing nothing to support the victim. This guilt lasts a lifetime.

Thankfully, the worst has not happened in Alachua County, and we want to make sure that it never does. I am convinced that students, as children, do not fully understand the consequences of their actions of bullying a peer. It is considered “cool” to exclude or harass someone who is new, different, or gay. Our job, as adults, is to make it “uncool”. We have to show students what bullying can do to a person.

Even of a victim is able to “take it” until he or she grows up, the consequences are tragic; to the victim, of course, to schools, and to society. A bullied student who is in emotional turmoil cannot concentrate on academics, and the schools “grade” suffers. Worse, society suffers when those students leave schools with inadequate skills.

The incident at Columbine shone a bright light what bullying can do. But people quickly forgot. Let this be a reminder to spur us into raising awareness about the dreadful consequences of bullying.

This is a unity rally, and that means the entire community is coming together to stamp out bullying. We are committed to making our schools and our community welcoming places where all can learn and thrive.

Eileen Roy is a member of the School Board of Alachua County

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