Archive for Thursday, August 25, 2005

Just say no to bullies

August 25, 2005

We were discouraged to hear of the first bullying incident at Baldwin High School this year, which occurred before classes even started. We were, however, encouraged by the School District's response.

Supt. James White came out swinging after he'd heard about the bullying incident Aug. 12 at the opening dance at BHS. White said it clearly.

"We think it is a serious issue and want to make sure it does not continue to occur in the Baldwin School District," White said. "We just do not want kids coming to school fearful of what older students might do. We just won't put up with it."

To that end, White is also bringing in an expert on the nation-wide problem. The expert will have sessions with students, staff and parents. We applaud this effort.

We will also be watching it closely, as all district patrons should. We stated last year that in light of what all happened at BHS last year we couldn't afford to put our heads in the sand anymore and pretend that nothing was going wrong.

We still can't.

That became increasingly obvious with the latest incident, especially in light of the recent court decision where a Tonganoxie youth sued the school district after years of being subjected to bullying. He won a $250,000 judgment and it could have been more.

But, money aside, the personal issues involved with bullying was made very clear when the parents of the boy bullied at BHS paid us a visit Friday. The mother states her case very clearly in a letter to the editor today.

After what that family went through last year, it's understandable that they weren't going to put up with it again. We applaud the courage displayed by the family to stand up to the bullies and try to make things better for all children throughout the district.

Is it really that "big" of an issue? Isn't it just boys being boys or children being children?

Yes and no. Yes, it is a big issue, but, no, it's not just boys being boys.

As Police Chief Mike McKenna pointed out, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service have identified bullying as the main culprit behind the numerous school shootings over the years. Children who have been bullied can lash out with deadly force. It's happened too many times.

But, that can't happen here, right?

Wrong. The Baldwin youth who threatened last year's Maple Leaf Festival through a journal kept on a Web site had been bullied, according to McKenna. Some school district officials deny that. They shouldn't.

A shotgun was brandished in the parking lot of BHS last year. Even school district officials can't deny that. It could have been a disaster, maybe not of the scale of Columbine in Colorado, but it did happen here.

The vast majority of students at BHS aren't bullies. Statistics show that 85 percent of all people have never been bullied or have been bullies. But, it's out there.

Let's make sure it stays "out there" and not here.

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