To the Editor:
In the past few months, bullying, or the victimization of some of our youngest citizens, has dominated national headlines. You can hardly pick up a newspaper or turn on the evening news without hearing about a bullying incident. Interpersonal violence perpetrated by school-age children and youths has led to a rash of suicides, homicides, and nonfatal injuries. The phenomenon of bullying supersedes race, class, and religion, and has become a pervasive issue in the lives of children, families, teachers, and school administrators.
For many children and their parents, bullying is a nightmare, one that forces families to seek legal action, relocate to a new school district, or, in extreme cases, move to another state. Recently, 13-year-old Nadin Khoury was hung from a fence in the Philadelphia suburb of Upper Darby, Pa., after being savagely beaten and kicked. Khoury, a young man from Liberia, was thrust among the ranks of thousands of children who are bullied and assaulted daily in public and private schools across the United States. In all, seven boys ages 13 to 17 were arrested and charged with kidnapping and a host of other offenses as a result of the incident.
Finally, at the end of the day, parents must continue to be their children’s first line of defense. Greater communication between parents and children is needed to attack the vicious problem of bullying. We also need a better system to monitor the daily challenges our children face in school. There’s no doubt the anecdotes I’ve cited are alarming, but the unfortunate truth is that many more bullying incidents go unreported because children are too ashamed or afraid to disclose them.
A version of this article appeared in the March 16, 2011 edition of Education Week as Are We Really Concerned About the School Bully?