71% of Children Feel Unsafe at School
It is impossible to read the news without seeing an article about bullying. This one grabbed my attention today. 71% of children feel unsafe at school and 17% of children under the age of 14 said they would consider carrying a weapon to class in order to protect themselves, according to a study done by beatbullying.org. Wow. Really? Middle school children want to arm themselves at school. This is the world we have created.
Half the kids surveyed believe their school would take no action if they reported a bullying incident. Kids do not think a system is in place to protect them. Half of the kids also admitted to ditching school in order to avoid physical harm or from fear of being bullied. We hear almost weekly about kids dying by their own hand. So, why isn’t this a national emergency?
81% of children want bullying made a crime and maybe that should be the case in some severe instances. That said, I have worked with bullies as a counseling intern and I would hate to see any of them go to jail. I understand that they have been bullied themselves and most of them have a dysfunctional home and a history of abuse. However, we cannot send them to ISS and expect that to be a deterrent. We have to do better than that. Maybe a court order for family counseling would be more beneficial.
Ultimately, bullying is an adult issue. We create bullies and we fail to protect the kids who are harmed. Each one of us has to take ownership of that. Children hear us and see us. They are aware of the way we treat one another. Whether it’s road rage in the car, gossiping about friends, or spouses fighting and name calling at home… we are always modeling behavior and that is louder than any morality lesson we teach our kids. Don’t even get me started on what our children watch on TV. Still our responsibility, though. We buy them and turn them on.
The only long term solution I see is to create smaller neighborhood schools; where students, administrators, teachers, and parents have greater accountability. Children would have a sense of belonging in a tight-knit community. There would be more opportunities to be involved, creating a greater sense of school pride. Best of all, this type of school atmosphere would provide a nurturing environment and smaller class size, so higher quality learning would take place. Huge mega-schools are just not safe, in my opinion. Yes, it’s cheaper and more cost effective. I get it. We value children, but we don’t want to financially commit to those values. My question is, how many more children will die before this becomes our number one priority?
I stated earlier that bullying is an adult issue. Each one of us is capable of practicing greater kindness, acceptance, and respect for one another. So, what are you willing to change about the way you interact with other people? If we do not make an effort, neither will our children. It all starts with us.
I would love to hear what your thoughts are on solutions to the bullying problem.
FYI ~ if you have a child that uses the computer, you may want to check out the website formspring.me and try searching their name. That is a site where kids have a page and anyone can ask them questions and do so anonymously. The amount of bullying that goes on there is quite disturbing.
Artwork done by Miriam.