Bullying is a problem in public schools
Nov 4, 2013 at 10:04 AM
Despite the best efforts of educators to curtail it, bullying remains a problem in public schools. As the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported last month, a state report identified 5,478 confirmed cases of bullying in Tennessee schools last year.The state Department of Education’s Bullying and Harassment Compliant Report — which is required under a 2012 anti-bullying law — found 7,555 cases were reported statewide during the 2012-13 school year. Of that number, 72.51 percent were confirmed to be cases of the bullying and harassment.Tennessee law now requires school systems to implement a policy defining bullying and outlining the punishment for students who intimidate their classmates. Earlier this year, the Carter County School System implemented a new program that looks to put an end to bullying. A few years ago, the Washington County School System established its EPIC (Encourage, Protect, Invest, Connect) program to discourage bullying, harassment and intimidation on campus. EPIC relies on the entire community — including students, teachers and parents — to address bullying. County officials say the program has been successful in calling attention to the problem.Over the years, we here at the Press have periodically heard from parents who believed school officials were not taking bullying seriously enough. That has changed, but not fast enough.The state report found cyberbullying to be a particularly vexing and growing problem. In that regard, the “use of electronic technology” to intimidate or harass as classmate accounted for 7.47 percent of the bullying cases reported last year.Social media, smartphones and the Internet have provided new forums for bullies to operate. School officials, however, say they are still limited in what they can do to stop cyberbullying.The annual bullying statistics are a good start to helping craft successful programs in dealing with this problem, but more is needed. What role must parents play in dealing with bullying? Maybe the parents of confirmed bullies should be held more accountable for the actions of their children.