With more community interest in bullying, one has to ask if it is more of an issue than we think.
There have been two “Letters to the Editor” submitted by affected mothers in the last month about bullying to their child.
The definition for a bully is “a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.” Bullying as a verb means, “use superior strength or influence to intimidate someone, typically to force him or her to do what one wants.”
The first letter was from a fairly new resident of Jacksboro, Chonda Friddle. She was so concerned about the bullying to her children that she asked for interested parents to meet at the Jacksboro Country Club. Several parents attended and they have created “Jacksboro Parents Against Bullying” Facebook page. They plan to attend the next board meeting at 7 p.m., May 13, and address the board in open forum.
The second letter came in from a mother who witnessed this sad story:
“At Tiger Challenge last year was an angelic faced little girl, blonde hair, blue eyes and one whose spirit enthusiastically expressed utter joy and excitement. Her eyes shone brightly and expressively as the team building exercises among fifth graders commenced. The leaders gave the kids instructions and activities that required the group working together. Through the various activities, I witnessed this sweet child trying desperately to follow the directions by holding hands with classmates, linking arms or pairing up with a partner. Multiple attempts this child made, and every time she had success in linking up, holding hands or almost being paired up, she experienced the burning sting of rejection. Whoever linked up with her would instantly drop her arm as they realized it was this child and they searched for a new link. When she finally had a hand to hold, again the other child saw whose hand they held and pulled away, wiping their hand off as if she had leprosy. As for pairing up, not one child would pair up with this child of God who needed a partner. On the last event, she finally got two hands at the same time, one on each side. Both of those children saw whose hand they held, dropped this precious girl’s hand and grabbed each other’s leaving this little girl in the middle of the circle and shunned from the group.
“Perhaps I should have stepped in and you are probably thinking, ‘Why didn’t you? You could have made it better!’
“Unfortunately, though horrified, I was also heartbroken as I blinked back tears of watching MY child being rejected over and over again. Seeing the faces the kids made, hearing their rude comments and seeing not one person (child or adult) stand up for my child, angered me and made me question the goodness of humanity. Yes, at the time I thought, ‘Step in, Ana.’ Then I feared all the teasing she’d get because, ‘Mommy came to your rescue.
“I watched in tears with awe at her undeniable resiliency. Rejection after rejection, my baby girl kept trying. She still had hope, even though she experiences bullying year after year and from school to school. She still smiles, her eyes still dance and every moment is a new moment to start anew. ”
Pastor Ana Marie Wilson of Jacksboro Parish has asked concerned parents to meet at 1 p.m., Friday, April 26 at 115 N. Knox St. (Jacksboro Parish).
Superintendent Dennis Bennett has active policies which address bullying in the schools. There is a 22-page Violence Policy and a 29-page Student Code of Conduct.
He says, “Jacksboro ISD is committed to ensuring that the district’s policies regarding bullying are fully implemented and followed accordingly. Specifically, pages 16 and 17 in the Student Handbook and FNG (LOCAL) of the Board Policy Manual address bullying. We certainly want to work with parents in a proactive way, and we welcome constructive input. We encourage parents to visit with our campus administrators and to share your concerns with them. We must work on the basis of facts, but together, we can better serve our students and find solutions to help us reduce bullying in the district.”
In speaking with Jacksboro Police Chief Terry McDaniel, he said they had recently implemented a communication system with School Resource Officer Jeremy Clayton where students can text or call and leave a message to report issues of concern. When McDaniel asked students how they are most comfortable communicating, the answer was texting or emailing. Already, reports have been sent with confidentiality maintained as much as possible. That number is (940) 229-9242.
Recently, in a Ladies of Faith meeting, Licensed Professional Counselor Sondra Mahoney from Van, suggested the parent of the child being bullied meet with the other parent to reach solutions, or if a parent learns their child is doing the bullying, they should meet to resolve the problems.
She felt that much could be accomplished at the parent level. Others go immediately to the school teachers and/or administrators to find solutions. An informal study in our county schools would be interesting to determine if bullying is indeed more prominent than thought.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health states, “Teens reported that bullying was a problem for them more often than racism, HIV/AIDS, or the pressure to have sex, and was as much of a problem as the pressure to use drugs or alcohol.
“Bullying can interfere with the important interpersonal relationships that support an adolescent’s mental health and well being. Increasingly, schools, communities, parents, and adolescents are acknowledging that bullying is not a rite of passage, but rather a practice that can be extremely damaging to children and teens.
“Between 2001 and 2007, bullying has been on the rise and, in 2009, one in five high school students report that they were bullied on school property in the past year.
“Approximately eight percent of high school students admit to having bullied others, and about 6.5 percent of high schoolers are both bullies and victims of bullying.
“The risk of cyberbullying has also increased along with the growth of technology. Cyberbullying ranges from repeatedly making fun of another person through email or text messaging to posting something online about them that they don’t like.
“Of these, adolescents are most commonly cyberbullied via text message.
“In 2010, one in five adolescents said that they had been cyberbullied at some point in their lives, and about the same number admit to having been a cyberbully. One in ten adolescents had been both a cyberbully and a victim.
“Perhaps not surprisingly, there is often crossover between being cyberbullied and being bullied in person. Victims of cyberbullying were more likely to get into a physical fight at school or to be the victim of a crime than were students who were not cyberbullied. Generally, boys are more at risk of being bullied physically while girls are more frequently the victims of Internet harassment and emotional bullying, such as social exclusion.
“Adolescents who bully others are more likely to have been physically hurt by a family member and/or to have witnessed violence in their homes.”
The final question is, Whose problem is bullying? Is it the parent’s problem, the school’s problem or the affected students’ problem? In different situations, it could be any of these persons.
One thing is certain, bullying must be addressed by all parties in a manner that is effective for all concerned.