Bullying in our schools has reached an all-time high, and the means to hurt someone have grown substantially in the past decade. We all hear dozens of stories of teens who have made the ultimate sacrifice to end their ordeal of being battered by words or fists. Stopping bullying should be a top priority in every school, and while bullying will always exist, we need to punish those who do so.
However, Hillsborough County Public Schools list bullying and sexual harassment as level two offenses, and not as zero tolerance (page 15 and 16, HCPS student handbook for 2012-2013). We need to adopt a zero tolerance approach to bullying.
By changing bullying and sexual harassment to level one, or zero tolerance, offenses, the offender will be punished by:
1. Mandatory parent/teacher conference;
2. Report to Area Leadership director and a recommendation for expulsion or change of schools;
3. Three to ten days out of school suspension;
4. Report to law enforcement as appropriate which could lead to arrest and prosecution or civil citation;
This way, we can ensure that our children don’t become the victims of bullying. Many times, children and teens don’t speak up in fear that adults won’t punish the bully, and it will only get worse. Sadly, this is true, and many times the problem doesn’t stop because of punishments such as lunch detention- taken as a joke in many schools.
Teens take their lives when the bullying gets severe, and school administrators let many of the perpetrators go with lunch detention and a day or so of in-school-suspension, and oftentimes the bully’s parent isn’t even notified. Only when the victim attempts to take his or her life is when the school officials step in.
This is the time to act to save our children.