Throughout the world, people attempt to use opportunities of others to make life progress out of other people’s weaknesses. It is also apparent that, many people like forcing or humiliating others by use of powers bestowed upon them or self-created powers to humiliate others. While bullying is often confused with harassment, it is the use of force, coercion, or threats to aggressively abuse, dominate or intimidate others. In a school set up, bullying occurs in several forms including verbal, physical, and emotional and cyberbullying. While girls take advantage over the girls and make gender-based bullying, other students engage in racial inclining bullying. This paper evaluates how sexuality or gender-inclining sentiments obstructs children schooling programs and psychological distress. It is noteworthy that, while bullying among children is often considered a minor issue, it has profound effects on the child’s psychological growth and development. In schools, students bully others to humiliate, intimidate or seek favors from other students. It is noteworthy that among the sexual bullying cases, most of the students end up having severe social relations with other students and long-term self-denial or seclusion from the rest. This behavior often causes trauma, stigma and withdraw.
The effects of bullying throughout the world have seen several students committing suicide following consistent stressful conditions. Human beings are generally social creatures that require social recognition and existence. Therefore, when a child encounters seclusion, it is likely for them to engage in other unwanted behaviors such as drug and substance abuse. Notably, the socially victimized students may absent themselves from schools for lack of good relations with others. Mostly, when student absents themselves from schools frequently, they are likely to lower their grades significantly. Thus, parents and teachers have a crucial role in preserving students’ dignity and unity throughout their school lives whether in schools or off the schools. For this reason, many parents take the action to sue either the student, teacher, school, the board or the institution to restore the dignity of their kids. In the past, various court cases regarding school bullying have been determined some in favor of the defendant and others against the wishes of the defendants depending on the seriousness of the case and the facts and evidence before the juries.
Statement of Bullying Issue History
The behavior to command or instruct others is known to be inherent in human beings since time immemorial. However, the first documented bullying case in history involves John Flood of the United Kingdom in 1862. The victim was convicted and sentenced to death but the queen due to his stature later overturned the sentence.Bullying is widely known to have negative effects on the social lives of the students and therefore the need for an anti-bullying policy. In the United States, all the states have enacted the anti-bullying policy since the enactment by the state of Georgia in 1999 and the recent legislation by Montana. Although the anti-bullying legislation has enhanced the war against bullying among the students and other workplaces, many people feel that there is a need for a more aggressive campaign to end the vice. According to the American Psychological Association between 40% and 80% of the children, undergo a particular form of bullying in their career lives. While demonstrating the severity of the act, the association, from the analysis of the 2013 survey on school bullying in the United States stated that, about 15% of the bullying in high schools involved racial statements.
The following case took place in Folsom Middle School which is located in the Folsom Cordova Unified District, California. According to California Department of Education, 2015, Folsom Middle School is made up of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade schools and served 1427 students. 68 percent were white, 15 percent were Asian, 10 percent were Hispanic, 2 percent were Filipino, 2 percent were Black, 2 percent were two or more races, and 1 percent was American Indian. In terms of gender, 52 percent were female and 48 were male. Additionally, students from low-income families were seven percent, eighteenth percent of the students had disabilities, and one percent of students who were learning English. Comparing with the state average, two percent of students were suspended, and four percent were chronically absent. Finally, the academic progress in this school was high comparing with other schools in the state.(Folsom Middle School, 2015).
The District Mission
According to the Folsom Cordova Unified School District website, the district mission is committed to providing excellence in educational programs that carry high expectations for each student’s achievement and success.
The School PTO Mission
As reported in the Folsom Middle School website, the Parent Teacher Organization mission is to encourage the well-being of youth in home, school and community. Furthermore, bring parents and teachers together so that the education of our youth relates to both home and school. Finally, develop between educators and the general public a common bond to secure for every child the highest advantages in mental, social and physical education.
Description of Problem/ Issue/ case
The family of Ronin Shimizu have settled with the Folsom Cordova Unified District for $1M because their son, who was 12-year-old, committed suicide last year (Sacbee.com, 2015). On Dec. 3, 2014 he killed himself after numerous reports of bullying because he was the only male cheerleader (Mailline.com,2014).
The assault from the bullies was on Ronin’s gender identity, so that means they called him gay, girly, and a fag (Sacbee.com, 2015). He had been attacked when he was in elementary and middle school. A few examples would be, the bullies pushed Ronin into the bathroom sink splitting his lip, and a student poured a fruit cup on his head (Sacbee.com, 2015).
The school district confirmed that the boy’s parents complained many times of their son being bullied, but the officials said that the bullies had been dealt with (Mailline.com,2014). In fact, “the district didn’t do enough to try to get Ronin the protection that he needed.” said the family’s attorney Merin. The harassment continued after the several complaints from the parent; as a result of that, Ronin left the school to be home-schooled (Mailline.com,2014). According to the mediation briefing, the boy suffered with obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADHD, anxiety and depression according to a psychiatrist’s diagnosis (Sacbee.com, 2015). On December 3, 2014, he committed suicide after 13 months of being a home-schooled (Sacbee.com, 2015).
“Noting the deep grief the parents feel over the loss of their son” Merin said, then he added that he encouraged the parents to attain settlement rather than suffer litigation; therefore, they accepted the settlement of $1 million (Sacbee.com, 2015).
District Superintendent Deborah Bettencourt said “this settlement is a fair resolution as our students, staff, and community continue to work together to learn from this episode and prevent another tragedy. Our hearts continue to be with Ronin’s family, and we support their efforts to promote kindness, empathy, and positive school climate.” In reaction to the tragedy, the district initiated an anti-bullying campaign and social awareness program; moreover, the district will teach students about the suffering of being bullied, and coach teachers how to identify and stop bullying (Sacbee.com, 2015). The district has appointed grief counselors in schools to help students and faculty (Mailline.com,2014).
Case Research and Analysis
Similar to Ronin’s case, the community did not protect a victim from their bully, even though the suicide was not successful. According to Juneau Empire Online Newspaper, The Anchorage School District was ordered by a state judge to release the details of the settlement that they made with the family of a boy who attempted to commit suicide as a result of being repeatedly bullied at his middle school. The district revealed that the settlement was of $4.5 million. Of this amount, $1 million were paid by the school district itself and $3.5 million was paid by First Specialty Insurance, the district’s insurance company.
Superior Court Judge Sen K. Tan issued the order by citing a previous case that held “confidentiality clauses in settlements entered into by public body are unenforceable.” Additionally, the judge stated that the boy’s family gave their consent to revealing the settlement because they did not deny the request from Anchorage Daily News to make it public. Officials from the school stated in a news release that the amount of the settlement and the decision to settle the claim was made by its insurance company, First Specialty Insurance. The superintendent, Carol Comeau revealed that because the amount that was requested by the juvenile’s attorney was higher than the district’s $1 million limit, the district was obligated to grant control of case decisions to the insurance company. Initially, the student’s attorney, Dennis Maloney, filed a claim of damages for $33 million, which would pay for a life-care plan for the student.It was revealed that the district was ready to go to trial to defend itself against the claims in the lawsuit. The family of the boy requested that he be named only by his first name, Tom.
Documents from the lawsuit revealed that Tom was a talented eighth grader who excelled in math and science. Records from the court say that Tom was picked on and teased physically and verbally. He was pushed around, teased in hallways, and kids even knocked textbooks out of his arms. Someone threw his clarinet into the trash and at least two times, boys aggressively confronted him in the bathroom. Then on November 6, 1998, Tom hanged himself at home. He lost his pulse when the paramedics arrived. Although they got his heart beating again after 15 minutes of CPR, Tom had already experienced expansive and irreversible damage to the brain. Due to his attempt, Tom wears diapers, digests food through a tube, and only knows a couple words.
His family had sued the school district in 2000 and accused the employees of the school of failing to halt the bullying. On the other hand, the school district said that the incidents at school did not involve bullying from only one or two students, but the bullying at the school involved many students. The district also stated that sometimes Tom himself initiated the confrontations and other times some other students initiated the bullying. The district said the students involved in these confrontations were given disciplinary punishments. According to the district, school staff came up with a signal Tom could give whenever he felt unsafe at the school. Also, the mother, school staff, and the boy’s psychologist never detected signs that he was at risk for suicide. “Mr. Maloney’s claim that the district is at fault for this tragedy is wrong, and the district was prepared to go to trial to prove its case,” district officials said.
Another prominent case, though this victim did not attempt to commit suicide, the boy was still attacked by bullies on the school-bus due to staff negligence. As stated by the Pantagraph online journalism, a student in the El Paso-Gridley School District was bullied and beaten on a bus when he was on his way to school. His family filed a lawsuit against the district and they have been awarded $250,000. The boy was a 13-year-old when his attorneys issued a statement that a Woodford County jury discovered that bus driver James Robert was acting with deliberate disregard and he did not care about the student’s safety. Also, they found that the school district was careless and allowed the boy to be harassed and beaten. A video was leaked in 2014 that showed the victim being harassed and beaten on the school bus, thus the case was filed after the video surfaced.
School Superintendent Brian Kurz commented that the action of the school bus driver was “reprehensible” and added “we hope this young man can put this behind him and go on with his life.” As a result of the allegations, the school bus driver resigned from his position, and the student moved to another district after the incident. At the beginning of the case, the district rejected the allegations on the driver of being indifferent and encouraging the students to assault the boy repeatedly; moreover, the students were provoked by the boy to bully him. In addition, the lead attorney Martin described the bus driver’s behavior as that of a liar, because he denied to school administrators about reports of abuse in the bus to cover up the students’ attacks on the boy. “My client’s life will never be the same.” said the lead attorney Martin.
The verdict also, “demonstrates why school districts must enact and enforce zero tolerance policies on the bullying and abuse of children, and that the community will not permit educators to make excuses to evade accountability and responsibility,” added co-counsel Nicolette Ward. The family’s lawyers described the jury award as one of the largest returned in a bullying lawsuit in Illinois.
There are numerous bullying cases that have occurred constantly in many schools; as a result, state legislation regarding bullying is rapidly increased and nearly all states currently have bullying laws (U.S. Department of Education, 2011). Currently, state bullying legislation has expanded and revised rapidly; moreover, many states have developed model bullying policies and guidance documents regarding bullying (U.S. Department of Education, 2011) “Although no federal law directly addresses bullying, in some cases, bullying overlaps with discriminatory harassment when it is based on race, national origin, color, sex, age, disability, or religion. When bullying and harassment overlap, federally-funded schools (including colleges and universities) have an obligation to resolve the harassment” (Anti-bullyinginstitute.org, 2018). The students who are mentioned in previous cases, they suffered and had been harassed in many different dangerous situations; however, schools should respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior; furthermore, all members in the community, “such as: parents, principals, and teachers can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy” (stopbullying.gov, 2018).
Recommendation as an Administrator
The school administrators have the responsibility to ensure safety and wellbeing of the students while in the schools. More often, the school administrators disregard the responsibility to protect the rights of the students while delegating the responsibility to the junior staff or the other teachers. While school heads could be involved in student’s bullying, there are rare cases of sexual bullying by the school heads. However, delegating such a sensitive docket of student safety to a mere teacher is unethical and do not follow the school administrative laws. Therefore, the school administrators should ensure that all rules and regulations are followed. It is always wise for the administrators to initiate programs that enlighten the students on the measures to take any time they encounter bullying from their teachers or from their fellow students. In addition, school heads should have a regular assessment of the teachers’ conducts while handling the students. Notably, the school heads are likely to detect any forms of queer behaviors from the employees before they escalate to mischiefs that are more sensitive.
The school heads should come up with programs that create awareness among the students. Further, administrators need to ensure that the teachers and all the staff members are enlightened on the repercussions on students bullying. As earlier stated, all the states of the United States have the legislation prohibiting the act of bullying whether among the students, workers or between the students and employees (Espelage et al., 2018). Across the states, the law stipulates that bullying is an offense and the victims must face the law and be convicted whenever found guilty. Therefore, the school heads should maintain a good relationship between the teachers and the students as well as other members of the staff to avoid breaking the law. The schools always take some burden at some stages of the offense whenever the student school life or normal life is affected by the act. Thus, it is important for the administrators to train the students on the best way to relate amongst themselves while reporting any cases of indiscipline among their teachers.
Bullying is an act that largely affects the student social and academic life. Although the act, in most cases, is seen as a normal encounter, the effects of bullying sometimes are detrimental to the entire life of the victim. Therefore, school administrators and the legislators need to enact laws that enable the society to curb the vice to ensure smooth learning of the students. It is significant to point out that, as demonstrated by the above legal case, students are not only bullied by their fellow students but also by their teachers. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the school administrators to ensure that all the stakeholders including the teachers, students, and other support staff, adhere to the work ethics and other laid down educational policies for a better environment for the students as well as the other members of the school society. In addition, the legal case cited above demonstrates the role of the parents in
protecting the rights of their sons and daughters while in school against bullying and other mistreatments. This paper examines that, while few cases are exhibited in the courts of law, a lot of students’ experience bullying but confine the information to avoid further stigmatization by their fellow students or teachers.
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