Patch Poll: What Can be Done to Curb Bullying in School Following Iowa Teen's Suicide?

It's pretty easy to form a consensus against bullying in our schools. But where does the responsibility rest to improve the situation? With parents? With the schools? Or somewhere else?

Kids can be cruel. But how can they be stopped when they go too far, and venture into the realm of bullying?

Bullying has been in the news nationally for some time, but this soul searching about abuse at the hands of fellow students and its after-effects has intensified in Iowa over the last few weeks after the suicide of Kenneth James Weishuhn Jr. Weishuhn, 14, of Primghar, reportedly killed himself after he was harassed relentlessly by classmates, online and in person, after he revealed to his peers that he was gay.

Still, despite the fact that Weishuhn had been bullied for weeks, the administrators at South O'Brien Community Schools said they were oblivious to most of the incidents, saying that Weishuhn had not reported them. 

So, there was a terrible tragedy, but how could it have been prevented? And how can bullying be prevented from happening to other kids in our schools who still can be helped?

CFBusinessOwner April 23, 2012 at 06:07 PM
There are bullies and there are victims but the one part often missed is the role of the bystanders---folks who see the bullying and stay silently in the background. We need to increase awareness of how if more bystanders stood up and spoke out we'd see bullies backing down and victims feeling more like their peers support them---just as they are.
Deb Belt April 23, 2012 at 07:46 PM
How about the ease that Facebook, Twitter and text messaging give to kids who want to strike out at others? Should parents routinely check their kids' phones and computers to make sure they aren't acting in ways that are inappropriate?
Dave Schwartz April 26, 2012 at 06:58 PM
This poll should allow for multiple answers. There isn't one solution.
Dave Schwartz April 26, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I agree. Questions: How and when do you recommend integrating these ethical discussions, and at the expense of what currently being taught or included in the school day? Kids barely have 5 seconds to eat lunch these days as it is.
Chris Liebig April 26, 2012 at 07:52 PM
I think the schools have really calcified ideas about how the time needs to be spent. For example, I don't think first-graders need an hour of math, five days a week. (By comparison, ten-year-olds in Finland get about forty-five minutes a day, three times a week, and they do quite well. More is not necessarily better.) I also think discussions about ethical choices could be a better use than is currently being made of the time devoted to "guidance." More on Finland's approach here: http://ablogaboutschool.blogspot.com/2011/01/is-more-better.html


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