When I was in junior high more than 20 years ago, bullying existed.
I remember two girls in my seventh grade junior high choir class – and yes, I can still picture their faces and remember their names – which routinely made it their mission in life to pick on others.
I, like many others, just tried to avoid these two girls as much as possible – which didn’t always work.
Fast-forward more than 20 years and it doesn’t seem like a lot has changed. We still hear stories of bullying incidents time and time again.
I do think some schools are being more proactive in telling students and parents what to do about bullying incidents. But, I don’t know if the culture has changed much in some schools. There are still circumstances where some schools aren’t doing enough to prevent and stop bullying.
Minnesota’s bullying law actually received a C- last year from a national watchdog group, according to a recent Star Tribune article, which was apparently the lowest passing grade in the country.
But, can changing the policies and laws make our schools free of bullying?
A Prevention of School Bullying task force was created by Gov. Mark Dayton last year and met for the first time this week. It was created to “examine the state of bullying, harassment and intimidation in Minnesota schools, including existing laws and regulations,” according to the Minnesota Department of Education website.
"We are beginning to acknowledge the fact that bullying is a public health issue, a mental health issue and a physical health issue," said task force member Walter Roberts, a Minnesota State University anti-bullying expert, according to the Star Tribune article. "Reports are coming in at such a level that we can't ignore it anymore."
The group is tasked with defining bullying, harassment and intimidation and to provide recommendations for policy initiatives to the Governor and Legislature, Minnesota Department of Education says on its website.
With bullying continuing for decades, I have to admit I’m skeptical on whether much will change with the amount of bullying that happens in schools.
As a society, I feel like we’ve been aware of this problem for years. Changes have happened and awareness has increased, which are positive strides forward, but as the old saying goes “the more things change, the more things stay the same.”
Hopefully, my doubts will be proven wrong.
It’s your turn to share your thoughts. Can schools ever be free of bullying? Will changing state policies and laws make a difference? Share your viewpoint in comments.