Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bullying — Parental and Child Rights (This is Our Story Series)

Over the centuries, stories have been told about the big, bad, boy down the street who picked on the little guy.  Most of us can remember either having been bullied or having been the bully to others.  School is a tough road for any child when they become the victim of peer taunts and teasing.

In our current day, bullying has been taken to an entirely new level.  One in which the bully gets away with the hurtful behavior, because children are forbidden to defend themselves in the school settings. When the pressure gets to be too much for the victim, the field of “mental health” steps in. 

Things should never have to get that far. No child should be locked behind barred doors in a psychiatric ward - or worse, pushed to the devastating depths of suicide - because he fell prey to a bully or a group of bullies. 

Imagine being a young child who relentlessly gets bullied, with no school personnel to set the bully straight. Thus, the bullying continues, day after day, diminishing and wiping away any hope of positive self-esteem. 

What is the result of that type of stress bearing down on a child who is in the prime years of their self-discovery? 

One young girl’s story shows us all what can happen when bullying spirals out of control. Unfortunately, there are many stories like this on the internet and on the evening news.  Some did not survive to tell their story.

This Is A True Story (names are withheld to protect identities)

She moved to a small community when she was 13 years old and attended a local public school.  She felt the kids were so different in this new school than where she had been living, and knew she was much more innocent then those she attended class with. She felt, in comparison to the other children, that she dressed “weird”. 

The children would make fun of her about everything under the sun, from not shaving her legs, to not wearing make-up.  When they couldn’t think of anything else to make fun of her for, they resorted to calling her “fat”.  At only 80 lbs, the bullies really had to stretch , but they found a way to make that obviously untrue insult hurt.

She would go home and cry herself to sleep.  When the school administration learned of the bullying, the girl was called into the office and was told to “grow up”, told that perhaps she needed psychiatric medications, and was warned that if she kept telling lies about the other children, she would end up a criminal in jail.
After some time, her parents pulled her out of that school.  With our Internet-era, and the injustice of not being heard by the school administrators, the young girl found the Internet a tool for her protest and inner turmoil.  She got hooked on chat-rooms and went from being innocent to being promiscuous.  At a young age she entered a world that was well over her head and far beyond her experience. 

One young man on the Internet wreaked havoc on her self-esteem and she began to believe all of the insults and depreciating comments. She thought about ending her life. 

By the miracle of having a parent who cared, a parent who asked questions and was there at the right time, she didn’t end her life that one night.  She began sharing her thoughts with her mom and on paper (journal-style). This helped to release so much of the pent-up thoughts and emotions that had been overwhelming her for quite some time.

She realized a few things about life through this trying journey and decided to choose her friends more carefully, which created a more loving and stable environment for herself.

What the Law Says

Again, this story is one of many.  Families have the right to know the law “prohibits bullying or harassment of any student or employee of a public K-12 educational institution, during any program or activity conducted by a public K-12 educational institution, during any school-related or school-sponsored program or activity…” and the law “requires each local school administrative unit to adopt a policy prohibiting bullying or harassing behavior”. 

Schools are required to act quickly and eliminate any bullying that occurs on their school property, on the school bus, or at school events and functions.  Any complaint filed by a student or parent that is related to bullying must be acted upon by school personnel immediately.  If it isn’t, the parents have the right to file a complaint with the school Superintendent. 

Bullies need to be disciplined and their harassing behavior needs to be stopped.

State Laws on Bullying

This helpful website shows a map of every state in the United States.  When you click on your geographical area you will immediately have your state’s laws on bullying.

Children who feel stressed, pressured, and sad because they are the victim of bullying do not have a mental illness.  It is a normal response to peer stress that shouldn’t even be permitted to occur.

Additional websites that may be helpful:

Bullying Statistics

A blueprint for effective prevention of bullying

“Best Practices” that deal even more with how to prevent bullying

This article is brought to you by our friends at the Citizens Commission on Human Rights in Florida, a non-profit that is not only dedicated to educating Americans about their rights in the mental health sector, they are also actively involved investigating and exposing psychiatric violations against human rights. 
Join us right here on Mommy Rantings on Tuesdays in 2012 for our new series that is dedicated to providing parents with in-depth information, resources and personal stories on a variety of childhood disabilities, mental health and behavioral issues. If you're interested in submitting your own story, click here for contact information.  

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