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Anti-bullying desperately needs to get hands-on

Josh Mahannah, ‘Doah Staff Writer
December 5, 2012

About a month ago, I heard about a terrible incident that had occurred at my former high school between two boys I knew by name. One is currently in his senior year; the other is a freshman, and the brother of a guy I used to hang out with 10 or so years ago.

The way the story goes, the freshman student jumped the senior when crossing paths in the hall one day. The senior is now in the hospital with a fractured skull, brain swelling and terrible migraines. The freshman is being charged with a misdemeanor. It seems as if this matter is solved; the freshman gets a slap on the wrist, and the senior goes back to school once he recovers.

End of story. But, not for me.

Administrators at the school confirmed that there had been a previous exchange between the two. It’s hard to say without proper confirmation if the situation may have been bully against bully, where each party went after each other and caused this violence. No matter the circumstances, it didn’t need to happen. If an intervention had been made earlier, maybe things would have turned out differently.

But, I question the ability of the administration to have set something like that up. An informant would have been needed, which would probably have just caused more problems.

There has been a major increase in the awareness of the issue of bullying in recent years. I’ve attended anti-bullying workshops about once or twice a year; all with names like “Rachel’s Challenge” and a motivational speaker. They are all passive-aggressive. They just dip their feet into the ever-growing river that bullying has created.

Look at what has happened because of bullying: school shootings, countless suicides, hell, historically wars have started over “bullying.” We cannot truly learn from these, we cannot learn from the people that commit suicide and become household names because of bullying. There needs to be a hands-on course that attacks this, that hits the nail on the head.

I think that school administrators and law enforcement should work hand-in-hand to overcome this problem. Students need to get more than a slap on the wrist or a short suspension, because it doesn’t change anything. There are some that think of the idea of suspension as a nice vacation from school.

Perhaps, if they were faced with actual criminal charges, the offenders might stop and consider their actions. Or even better yet, send them to a scared straight program. Put them in jail, have them processed and let them get face-to-face with real criminals; because bullying is a crime against humanity.

Someone has to stand up and draw the line to signify enough is enough. Someone has to say that the person needs to be punished for his or her wrongdoing, but at the same time the punishment needs to be more than just a slap on the wrist.

Recently, I heard about an incident where a student attacked a teacher. Instead of writing it off, as they generally do back home, the teacher is taking full action and suing the offender. I say props to that teacher for doing what is right.

We live in a nation where one in seven children are bullied, and it can start as young as kindergarten. These are terrifying statistics. If we continue to ignore these facts, and not step up to the plate, the consequences will be dire.

I have friends who avoid going to school, or have considered killing themselves because they were bullied. My friends should not have to live in fear, should not have to think that they can take away their pain by ending their lives.

I realize that there is really very little that I can do besides addressing the subject like I have, but somebody’s got to do something and I will stand next to them to help them see it through.

I just fear that we will not be able to act fast enough. I come from a small town with big problems, and I know that there are many more like it.

There is a solution at hand, there are people to speak about it, but where is the proactive fight that’s more than putting posters in our schools, wristbands on our arms, and other junk of a similar nature? Where are the activists that do more than just speak? Why do I feel like I’m preaching about a lost cause we have already surrendered to?

I do not have all the answers, but I hope that I at least made you think.

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