Bullying continues to rise and has become a frequent topic of discussion in our community. At some point as a child or an adult, people encounter an imbalance of power in individuals who cause them pain.
This person, typically known as the “bully” drives fear in their hearts that can lead the victim feeling miserable about themselves. It’s happening around us everywhere, from playgrounds to schools, at work, in restaurants, and more prominently now, online. For some reason, we are not making enough efforts to face this problem until it is too late.
The population of primary concern is our youth. They are the most vulnerable to these encounters. A survey conducted by the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System found that 19.1 percent of students had been bullied at schools and 13.8 percent were bullied online during a 12-month period.
In 2011, the first anti-bullying measure was passed by the 82nd Texas Legislature which attempts to define acts of bullying, create a stronger notification requirement to the parent or guardian, and increase accountability. Overall, results indicate that Texas HB 1942 provides adequate guidance for school districts to establish anti-bullying policies but fails to educate the parents.
This is where the problem begins. HB 1942 took the issue head-on to assure guidelines were in place for policies and procedures to address bullying in schools. They made changes to the chapters in the Texas Education Code affecting school districts beginning in the 2012-2013 school year. With the new law, the schools have the option to transfer either the victim or the bully to another classroom or another campus within the same district.
The definitions of bullying were also updated to address current living standards. Lastly, the new law addresses comprehensive bully prevention program in the health curriculum addressing awareness, prevention, identification, self-defense, resolution methods, and intervention of bullying and harassment. But why is this only for the student? I feel the parents should be able to attend this same health class.
As a young foreigner in the United States, I had no idea what bullying was and was bullied in elementary. I would come home crying, and my parents didn’t understand what was going on. I continued to be bullied and walked home day after day fearing things would get worse.
Being of a different ethnic background, bullying is more prevalent.
A study by the National Center for Education Statistics found at least 26 percent of Hispanic students live in fear of being subjected to peer abuse. In November of 2016, a Texas City High School teen took her life after suffering several months of persistent cyber bullying, stalking and harassment. If her parents were aware of what signs to look for or words to say to prevent harm as she shot herself in front of her family, she could be alive today. I feel the parents are not educated enough about the seriousness of this matter and is somewhat brushed off as kids being kids.
Social media has gone out of hand and spreading rumors about others happens in a blink of an eye. Being aware of bullying, learning ways to identify it, talking to your children about cultures and personalities they will encounter, showing empathy, staying connected to your teens, and most importantly, getting involved are all ways to begin this process.
Parents’ quick instincts are to protect their children in any possible way from harm whether physical, verbal or through social media. Hot-tempered parents may be quick to retaliating against the bully’s parents, escalating the situation. Addressing the child’s teacher or principal first instead of the bully’s parents, they can teach their children nonviolent ways to deal with bullies.
School social workers and parents, I urge you to seek advocacy and approach city and state representatives to strengthen HB 1942 and make it mandatory for parents and guardians to become educated through webinars, school meetings, or live videos about signs of bullying, from either the bully or the victim and non-violent ways to deal with these situations. It must take into account minorities and must reflect the diverse cultures around us.
Why is this important? It is important because we should care about our community and the members living within our community. Losing a loved one is never easy for anyone, and no matter how much you try to console a mother who has just lost a young child, nothing will be good enough. So let’s prevent it from happening, so that these kids can experience the proper school experience and education.
—Karishma Ali, Sugar Land
Social work graduate student at Our Lady of the Lakes University
Cell phone laws should be set a local level
Dear Mr. Southern,
I read your article on cell phones with great interest and agree with you they can be very dangerous.
Like you “I am generally opposed to having more government overreach….” but limiting cell phone use, like speed limits, is one of those areas that probably should be regulated. In fact, cities all across the state have been determining what level of regulation they would choose for the safety of their citizens. This has proven to be effective and accepted by the folks who live there.
Unfortunately, our Governor and Lt. Governor do not believe the people of Sugar Land, or any other city or county, are smart enough to make rules and want to make the rules themselves, which, in this case, are much weaker and watered down than the rules the people of Sugar Land came up with for themselves. Hope it doesn’t come back to haunt them because their power play could cost lives. That is the problem with centralizing government control, which is what Austin is about these days.
—Charles Jessup, Meadows Place