Bullying is anything but ‘kids being kids’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 24, 2011

Since the dawn of time those who were strong or more powerful preyed upon those who were not. Bullies have been around forever.

Whether it was the Mongols sweeping their way across Asia or the Europeans forcing the Native Americans out of this country, history is built upon one group imposing its will upon another.

But it should not be like this in our public school classrooms. Our children should be protected from this type of behavior as much as possible but, sadly, that isn’t always the case.

Email newsletter signup

This point was driven home to me this week. And it started with an innocuous e-mail message in my Inbox, one that looked just like any of the hundreds of others I get every day.

This one grabbed my attention in part because the severity of what was outlined but also because of the subject matter

For one Lawrence County family, whose names I changed at this point to protect the child from further harassment, bullying has been an all-too-often reality.

For Susie Smith, bullying is an everyday occurrence. And it has been for six years.

Her mother feels like she has no recourse, has no way of correcting a situation in which she feels powerless.

As a parent, there may not be a worse feeling.

“I think there needs to be stronger penalties for bullying in our area. I know there are many children in our school alone that are bullied and the bullies get away with it because their parents do nothing nor does anyone else,” the woman said. “These bullies have to be stopped and made to be responsible before an innocent child does something drastic to make it stop.”

Those are powerful words, ones we hope don’t become a portent of things to come, but they also show the fear that has gripped this family.

And the Smiths are not alone. Bullying occurs in every school, at every grade and to both genders.

This isn’t just “kids being kids” or “boys being boys.”

Although some schools are doing more to address this than has ever been done before, that may still not be enough. Even one tragedy is too many when it can be avoided.

Ohio’s legislators need to look at this as well, giving law enforcement more tools and giving the laws themselves more teeth.

That way all the Susie or Billy Smiths of the world will have the chance for a childhood that isn’t robbed of innocence too early.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.