My daughter (12) and a three friends of mine children (ages, 15, 15, and 12) have been bullied to the point of depression, anxiety, retaliation, suicidal thoughts and attempts. All these kids live and go to school in the Districts stated above. More concerning are the children that have not spoken up yet or are too afraid to do so.
Here in Crystal Lake, Illinois, numerous children and young teens are victimized by being the target of bullies "perpetrators". These perpetrators are driving suicide ("bullycide") rates that are quickly becoming the second cause of death among kids/teens. The harassment of bullies inflicts unseen scars of low self-esteem, fear, traumatic anxiety, hazing, depression, thought of suicide, self-harm, etc. We parents have gone to the schools and while some administrators have helped with the situations, others have outright ignored the pleading of the victims for help. Some administrators expect the 7-14 year olds to "figure it out themselves". Of course, when that doesn't work and the parents get involved the schools often try to put the action required on the parents because of "lack of evidence". Further some administrators have suggested the child being bullied be moved to a different classroom, switch schools or exit the school out a different door! Why do the targeted kids being bullied need to change their lives?!
Sadly, more often than not, the harassment continues. Parents give up trying to go to the school (time and time again, with no positive results) and then either the child reacts outright to defend him/herself (either by self harm or harming the bully directly) or as parents/caregivers we need to seek police help (which they overwhelming response is "if nothing physical happens we can't do anything") forcing parents to head to the court for orders of protection.
The perpetrators need help and counseling. The victims need protection and help too. Just because our children are different races, sexual orientations, religions, learning abilities, physical abilities, physical appearance, etc. Why should they be hurt for being different? Schools should be safe environments. The administrators and teachers that turn their backs on the students and parents only creates a negative and untrusting environment.
Instead of parents (tax payers) focusing on helping kids with homework and better grades, we are focusing on taking time off work, calling our harassed kids in "sick", seeking legal advice or going to the court to get orders of protection. Bulllying is harassment which is when you get down to it a HATE CRIME!
Let's not forget that lesson in political studies we've all probably taught or been taught! The lesson was how wrong it was for African-American people to be segregated, beaten, hung, harassed, made to MOVE their position (on a bus, housing, schools, even drinking fountains) because of the HATRED and HARASSMENT of "other" people.
Two Strike Policy is necessary (1st offense - warning, 2nd offense - parental involvement, and social/psychological evaluation. Modify the perpetrator's schedule and passing periods to modifying their behavior and ability to interact with targets until they can learn and show responsible and respectful interactions with other children and adults within the school.
Hatred is hatred. Harassment is harassment. Help us end this before more people are hurt and young lives are lost.
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