Cheryl Tyler blogs in part two today:
School bullying is an epidemic, and to ignore it is to ignore the single common thread among all the school shootings in America. We school professionals have the power and ability to (metaphorically) strong-arm the oppressor by our position. This “strong arm” is to teach our students to respect and value each other in our differences. By doing this we will probably save a life.
I experienced being bullied when I was a kid, but it doesn’t compare to the pain of seeing my child being bullied by a group of mean girls in the 4th grade. They stomped her coat and kicked it across the classroom floor (among other things). We told the teacher, but she chose to do nothing. In January we decided to home school because every Sunday night she would become physically ill and would cry herself to sleep. Our beautiful, intelligent daughter felt ugly and stupid, and it took years for the damage of those few months to be put behind her.
How can we not see the bullying happen? You know that student who is being tormented: it’s the child who might use any excuse to not be in class. Or one who won’t make eye contact with certain peers. If you can’t see “the bullied,” you can at least see “the bully.” That would be the mean girl who has a little smile when you tell her she’s upsetting someone. It’s the boy who makes fun of and/or calls other boys “gay.”
Earlier this year California middle-school student Lawrence King was killed because he was gay. The statistics about harassment of gay students are astounding. According to a comprehensive national study, 86.2% of GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) students report being verbally harassed, 44.1 physically harassed, and 22.1 have been physically assaulted at school. Grades are lower and the drop-out rate is high for these students. How can we not see these things happening?
In a wealthy and liberal school district in California, researchers found that GLBT students are bullied and harassed more than overweight or disabled students. Anti-gay bullying has only gotten worse in schools. Teachers generally will only recommend a student shouldn’t say that about their peer. That lack of force further suggests that being gay is wrong. Here are some facts taken from the Palo Alto (CA) High School Online School Journal:
* 78% of the total student body has witnessed harassment of gay students;
* 93% report hearing gay epithets (such as “a fag” or “that’s so queer”);
* 51% report hearing anti-homosexual slurs daily;
* One-third of these (GLBT) students are harassed due to their orientation;
* One out of six is beaten where (s)he requires medical attention;
* Gay kids are four times more likely to be threatened with a weapon at school.
* Because 40% of all students at some time experience a degree of same-sex attraction, there is a tendency to over-compensation by striking out against gay students as a means of not being perceived as gay.
* According to the American Psychological Association the suicide rate for GLBT students is four times that of non-gay students, and it is the leading cause of death in this group.
Today, October 13, 2008 one of the news headlines from CNN was about considerations for a gay-friendly high school in Chicago. Advocates of this school say it won’t promote being gay, but keep teens safe from “horrifying levels of harassment” and will keep them in school to graduate.
Please do not toss this into File 13 as an “agenda item” of a group you do not agree with because of this, that or the-other. You may be the only person who acknowledges this is happening. Refuse to permit any child in your care from being tormented. You have the power to make a change. Do it today.
Thanks, Cheryl! We can’t wait to read part three.