Gemini

  1. As a former educator who got out of the classroom because of situations like this, I have to agree with Hobartteacher that this story seems completely one-sided. The problem is not the school or its personnel, it's the culture. Kids today can send texts and messages via social media from afar without fear of repercussion, so they are more cruel than ever. I don't doubt that something was going on if this girl felt the need to leave school, but just because the paper is reporting that the mother informed the principal and counselor at some point about a problem, we don't know to what extent they were knowledgable about the severity of the situation. People throw around the word bullying today quite freely. It is repeated behavior, not just an isolated incident. I don't doubt that this girl was being bullied to take such extreme action as running away, but many students get peer pressured by others to not tell an adult. Or, while they will talk about the problem at home with a parent freely, they won't go to school and report it to a teacher or administrator out of fear of being labeled a "tattle." So while a school may hear of one incident, nothing more may be said even if the problem persists. Then suddenly something serious happens like this, and people want someone's--school board, superintendent, principal, and/or teacher--head on a platter. Parents need to understand a few basic items about schools. They operate under something called FERPA, meaning that they cannot tell anyone but the parent of the child who got in trouble what the disciplinary action will be taken. These people posting about so-and-so only getting minimal consequences don't know what that child truly received as punishment. FERPA is also why the school hasn't responded to the paper--they legally can't, which is what makes this an unfair portrayal of good people in education who would never wanted anything like this to happen in a million years. The other state and federal guidelines that govern schools is that they operate on the basis of progressive discipline. 10 year olds are still learning what is proper social behavior. Consequences increase if bad choices continue over time or become more severe. But this goes back to the schools needing to be made aware of the issue. If this is first time they are being told about something, or if subsequent instances of hurtful treatment by other students are not reported, then they may not be able to issue the consequences the victim's parents want because nothing was ever told to them prior to that. Because on the flip side, the parent of the student who did the bullying or mistreatment will be upset if this is the first time they are hearing about it and their child gets suspended. Those parents threaten to sue just as freely because they will claim they were unaware of what their child was doing wrong and didn't have the opportunity to correct the behavior. Schools are honestly in a catch 22. No matter which way they go, or how fair they try to be given the unique circumstances of each situation, a parent usually gets upset. No wonder most educators leave the profession after 5-7 years. And where are the parents in all of this? If the girls was getting texts, block those numbers. If something is happening on Facebook, don't be "friends" with those students. Or better yet, maybe rethink why a middle school student needs a cell phone or facebook at that age anyway. The article also points out that the victim's parents had contacted the parents of the bullies. Why aren't they getting blasted for not controlling their children? They are just as culpable, if not more so, than the schools. They should have stopped this long ago by parenting their child and giving them consequences at home for being cruel to another child. The bottom line is, the children who were doing the bullying are the ones to blame. LC could pass the toughest zero tolerance policy imaginable on bullying, and some children will still make poor decisions and break it. To say "LC needs to end bullying" is sadly idealistic. You can't end anything. Schools have tardy policies and consequences for things like drugs and fighting, and some kids are still going to break those rules. All you can do is educate kids, hope they take it to heart, and if not, respond when something bad happens. But that response is limited if schools don't have full knowledge of the extent to which the problem is occurring. Parents need to work with the schools instead of blasting them to help develop an effective way to reduce bullying by teaching students in school AND more importantly at home that it is wrong to be mean to another person and intimidate them. They also have to work together to encourage a victim or bystander to report when they see problems taking place in schools. And parents need to let the schools know if something is reported at home by their child. They also need to talk to the parent of the other child, not the school, if something happens after school hours. We are all responsible and hopefully rational adults. Stop pointing the finger of blame and just work to make the culture better so that some young girl does not feel so hurt that she has to flee from what is meant to be a safe place. I sypathize with her parents--what a scary thought that something bad could have happened and thankfully did not. But it wasn't the staff at Grimmer that was bullying her or made her choose to flee the building. I have to believe as a rational adult that no teacher, counselor, or administrator wanted anything like this to happen to one of the students there. The kids who did the bullying made the girl feel like she had to run away, not the school. A pound of flesh from a teacher or administrator isn't going to solve the problem. Rather, parents and the LC schools need to collaborate with one another to create a system to help kids know what to do when bullying first begins to prevent it from going any further.
    May 23, 2012 12:57 pm on Mother: 10-year-old daughter fled undetected from S'ville school because of bullies
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