06/30/04 — Curbing bullies: Focus ‘sensitivity’ on good students

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Curbing bullies: Focus ‘sensitivity’ on good students

The State Board of Education is taking a stronger stance against school bullies. It is prepared to require all public school systems to institute measures to prevent bullying and to get involved should it occur.

Apparently, specific measures would be left up to the local school systems. But the state rules would require each system to have at least one person to attend a state sponsored anti-harassment session.

In addition, instances of bullying would have to be noted in each system’s annual report to the state on school violence.

One goal of the state’s stronger position would be to increase “awareness” and “sensitivity” about the kinds of bullying and harassment that occur on campus.

Sensitivity and awareness are important aspects of preventing or ceasing to bullying, of course. Getting this across to all faculty members, students, bus drivers and others must be a vital part of the program.

But some bullies, by their very nature, are virtually unmanageable.

That’s when the policy of one Raleigh middle school principal, Tom Benton, comes to the fore.

In a recent newspaper article, Benton was quoted as saying that when children are brought in for offensive conduct, “we tell them point blank, if it continues, you’re going home.”

That’s a good approach. And it shouldn’t mean simply transferring an incorrigible student to some alternative school where he or she can continue to be disruptive.

“You’re out of here” should mean just that — out of school, off the bus, off the school grounds.

Awareness and sensitivity must begin with the best interests, the safety and comfort of the well-behaved students — who represent the vast majority.

Published in Editorials on June 30, 2004 12:27 PM