American Morning

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April 1st, 2010
03:00 PM ET

We Listen – Your comments 4/1/2010

Editor's Note: As more parents and students spoke openly about bullying and its negative effects, Thursday’s American Morning audience shared potential solutions to the problem. One former teacher suggested that other states emulate Vermont, making schools legally requited to “deal with the problem.”

  • Mary: If Massachusetts wants to get serious about bullying in schools, I suggest it look to its neighbor–Vermont. A Vermont bullying law was put into law after the suicide of 13-year old Ryan Patrick Halligan. If Massachusetts had such a law, prosecution might be much easier. But, most importantly, the level of awareness amongst students and teachers escalates. The Vermont law requires schools to deal with the problem. I recently retired from teaching and during my last ten years, I was part of a concentrated staff development effort & participated in developing bullying policies as both a teacher and a school board member. Not one school...not one principal...not one teacher in Vermont can stand by and allow bullying. All know that there is a legal price to pay. When the level of awareness increases, the amount of bullying decreases. Ryan's dad was the driving force for the law. Google Ryan's name and you can read his tragic story on-line. His dad travels to schools talking to students and teachers about the events that led to his son's suicide. I know for a fact, that he has been in schools in Massachusetts. It would behoove you to refer to Vermont's law in your reports.
  • Tameka: bullies are a group of cowards .like a scary dog that barks real loud, but when u stomp at them they run behind master. i suggest standing up to them. best to catch that person alone, and talk to them. if anyone noticed that a bully mostly run in a pack, not alone.
  • Joe: In your coverage of the teen who [hanged] herself over bullying, you hold the school administration responsible for what a group of teenagers did. Where and when do you hold the parents of these teens responsible? If a parent, who has only 2 or 3 children in their home, cannot prevent their child from bullying, how is a school teacher, with up to 100 students, or a principal, with up to 2000, supposed to keep track of what is going on? No wonder our students are not achieving well on tests if we expect schools to do it all. Parents should parent, schools should teach.

Who should be held accountable in bullying cases? What suggestions would you have to address this issue?

Filed under: We Listen
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Patricia Davis

    Your coverage of the suicide of the young girl due to bullying is totally one sided in its focus on the school administration. Actually, your attack on the school is brutal and I think dangerous. Without an investigation of the bullies and their families we cannot tell what happened and why it happened. Since some of the bullies are being charged as adults and you can show their pictures, I know you can also investigate them. What we need is real investigative reporting not a one sided attack on the school administration.

    April 2, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  2. Carol

    I find it bizzare that Americans complain about "the nanny state" and then expect the government (schools) to be solely responsible for teaching children morals, ethics, and values.

    Where are the bullies' parents in this situation? I've seen no coverage of them and no calls for them to account themselves.

    The bullies shouls have been taught right from wrong and appropriate social behavior at home.

    Before the school's administrators are sanctioned, the bullies' parents should be sanctioned.

    April 2, 2010 at 8:35 am |

    Bullies usually solicit help from students who assist because they lack the initiative or leadership to initiate bullying themselves. In addition, there are bystanders who may participate by watching, encouraging or just passively standing by.

    Parents, students, and educators who give little credence to bullying generally perceive such act as not serious or just do not discern if the behavior is a repeated occurrence. Such characteristics may contribute to a bully being able to maintain threaten acts. Parents should play a greater role in recognizing bullying tendencies and/or victimization traits in their child.

    Parents should make sure the school has a bullying policy and be aware of the extent it is executed. Conversation with students should include discussion that includes social problems, peer interactions and the child’s understanding and abilities to resolve conflicts if they arise.

    April 2, 2010 at 8:27 am |
  4. Elizabeth

    I find it ironic that so many people that are outraged (and rightly so) by the recent bullying deaths are now bullying the administrators and school officials themselves. It appears that many don't realize or perhaps understand what bullying is. Just something to think about.

    April 2, 2010 at 7:55 am |
  5. Cararie

    In regards to the principal of the school where the teen was bullied and committed suicide-This man is getting all kinds of threats and being called names. It is easy to see where kids get their ideas about bullying. Perhaps parents should look in the mirror before making these comments or accusing others of looking the other way...

    April 2, 2010 at 7:50 am |
  6. Susan

    Good Morning KIRAN & JOHN,
    Of course prevention is the key to stop a child or young teen from commiting suicide. This beautiful girl felt helpless because of being tormented by others. It takes a village to raise a child. Thus, parents and teachers need to be aware of the social dynamics outside of and within the schools. I do believe the adminastration should learn from their mistakes and take more action in the future. Ultimately no one can make you kill yourself. You let yourself feel helpless and let others effect you. The administration did not do enough to prevent the tormenting of this child. The parents should have taken their child out of school, have her see a pschologist and attend a different school. These bullies obviously are acting out because they do not get enough attention at home. This beautiful child commiting suicide is a horrific tragedy.
    Tkae Care,

    April 2, 2010 at 7:31 am |
  7. Joe Toth

    Ha, ha,

    J.D. Roberts you have come a long way since the "New Music".

    Your staff should ask to see some of your early interviews on the New Music"


    April 2, 2010 at 7:09 am |
  8. Bridget

    Bullying is a symptom of a deeper problem that is running rampant through American society, and unfortunately for the victims, unless parents become parents and enforce strict standards of accepted behavior, nothing will change. Schools can do only so much to stop bullying as evidenced with the young man who committed suicide last Sunday and the young lady who ended her life in January. Schools are not going to take truly severe measures, such as expulsion from school, because when students are expelled, the schools get less money from the government. (That's right, people of America, there are more overlooked problems in American schools that anyone wants to admit, and bullying is just one of them.) Parents are the first, and most important line of defense, against this type of domestic terrorism; but parents first have to teach their children expected behaviors, enforce the expectations, and stop saying, "My child wouldn't do that" or "It's not his/her fault." The bullying is nothing more than mob mentality or pack mentality which is evidenced when a pack of wolves finds a victim who is too weak to defend him/herself. When one starts attacking the weaker one, the rest of the pack blindly follows, looking to satisfy their bloodlust. The "leader", or one who started the bullying, just sits back and watches the others take over and finish the job. So much for our children learning to think for themselves. I teach sixth grade students in a small middle school, and I speak from experience; I've seen the victims, and I've seen the bullies and schools don't want to know about the problem regardless of what is said publicly. Remember that school districts don't see students as people to educate, rather the children are seen as dollar signs which changes how problems are handled.

    April 2, 2010 at 7:05 am |
  9. Lafenmom

    " I was part of a concentrated staff development effort & participated in developing bullying policies as both a teacher and a school board member."

    No disrespect, but it doesn't seem that this type of approach works.

    Two solutions – first, make the bully be escorted from class to class, restroom, lunch room, etc. That sort of embarrassment would stop a lot of this garbage. Two, teach your kid to stand up for themselves and fight if necessary. Much better a bloody nose in 4th grade than another massacre in 9th.

    April 1, 2010 at 4:12 pm |