Opinion

Why School Bullying Must Be Stopped Immediately

CoverHave you read the horrific story about Gabrielle Molina, the twelve-year-old Queens girl who committed suicide after being consistently bullied by classmates?

The New York Post reports:

The tiny Queens girl who hanged herself Wednesday had been mercilessly taunted by classmates who called her names and mocked her appearance, friends and family said yesterday.

Gabrielle Molina’s body was discovered by her sister Georgia, 15, in their shared bedroom at their Queens Village house at 2:30 p.m.

The 12-year-old girl — who barely stood 5 feet tall — left an anguished suicide note that referenced her tormentors.

“She was bullied,” said IS 109 classmate Samantha Martin, 12. “She said that she wanted to move schools because she felt uncomfortable. People wanted to jump her.”

Gabrielle’s sobbing father, George Molina, said his daughter had been slowly wearing down from abuse that had continued online after the dismissal bell.

I realize that you may already be asking yourself accountability questions. Hold on, though, because there’s more:

George Molina fumed that Gabrielle’s school, IS 109, did not respond quickly enough when the family complained to administrators about the online footage.

But Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said yesterday that a preliminary investigation did not reveal any serious bullying problems at the Queens middle school.

However, the school was given only a “C” for its safety environment in the city’s 2012 progress reports.

“I don’t think I knew the word suicide when I was 12 years old or 11 years old,” Walcott said.

A staggering 70 percent of IS 109 students said they didn’t feel safe there.

This is absolutely outrageous. The school was given a “C” for safety in the city’s 2012 progress reports and no immediate serious action was taken? How could a preliminary investigation not reveal any serious bullying problems if 70% of students didn’t feel safe there? Were the principal and administrators heavily reviewed on-site? Were jobs lost and replacements made that would restore a positive culture at the school? Were parents contacted repeatedly and students responsible for the bullying suspended–and if the behavior continued, expelled? Were interviews with students immediately conducted after those progress reports were released, to find out exactly what was going on in classrooms, in the cafeteria, and at recess to make so many kids feel unsafe?

Bullying among kids is a very serious matter. As a former academic dean and teacher, I’ve seen it up close. If action isn’t taken immediately to ensure that there is no tolerance for that kind of behavior, things can–and sometimes do–get dangerous. Even if kids aren’t harmed physically, their grades can suffer, as can their confidence, leaving them with numerous academic and psychological struggles.

It is the responsibility of a school administration to provide a safe environment for kids. Even in unfortunate cases where parents are absent or disinterested, administrators must enforce a no-tolerance policy for bullying within the confines of school settings.

Any administrator who doesn’t do that should be fired. Any school that doesn’t quickly and adequately address bullying concerns brought to its attention by parents must be reviewed immediately, top to bottom. That means people lose their jobs and big administrative changes happen–right away.

The well-being of kids–and in some serious cases, their lives–are at stake.

Jedediah Bila is a former high-school academic dean and adviser, and has taught at the middle school, high school, and college levels. Follow Jedediah on Twitter @JedediahBila.     


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Robert Widor
9 years ago

Sadly, especially in NYC. You will never change the school till you rid it of unions and tenure. Till their jobs are in jeopardy, they will do nothing to protect the vulnerable. We also need a return of corporal punishment, both at school and at home. Spare the rod and spoil the child. Instead of teaching liberal ideals, teach respect for your elders and others the way we once taught our children.

Sam
9 years ago

I agree with Kenneth. I, also, agree with your comments, but why only the focus on schools? You forgot to mention that kids learn from adults. Just change some of the words in the article to the obama administration, local, state, and federal government representatives and we see where many of the problems originate. Take a moment and think about it! We are all being bullied!

Lucy Mauterer
9 years ago

You know what pisses me off? That so many folks expect the SCHOOLS to solve this problem. I had two bullying incidents with my children and in the first one, where my daughter was being cornered by some boys on the playground, I threatened both the school/daycare and the parents of the boys with legal action, also threatened to have OSHA and the local Health Department pay a surprise visit to the school/daycare. That stopped it.

The second was with my fifth grader. He was being bullied by two boys on the schoolyard, taunted, books knocked out of his hands, etc. I told him the next time it happened to jump whichever boy was closest and beat the shit out of him, that I would stand behind him 100%. He did just that and he is not a very physical or violent type. He’s very cerebral and studious. But he and that other boy rolled around in the nasty yellow mud and when I went over to the school to pick him up, I had to put down towels just to put him in the car. Talked to the principal later and she was very supportive. Neither of those boys ever bothered him again.

By the time I was in grade school, I already had a reputation for finishing a fight. I never started one, but if you were stupid enough to pick one with me, I upped the ante and would beat you bloody. No one ever bothered me in K-12.

The point I am making is, don’t let it start. Don’t rely on anyone else to stop it. Go to the main antagonist and take them out, one way or another. (and you don’t need to kill them) Let them know that there are unpleasant consequences to messing with you. You cannot be afraid to get hurt either, if you choose to fight. You will get hurt, but the good news is, if you are really mad, the adrenoline with keep you from feeling it until later. Don’t let others bully you or your children. Be proactive.

Debra Herman
9 years ago

If the school was unwilling to address the bullying problem, and it continued, Gabrielle’s parents should have called the police and filed assault charges against the bullies. There is no excuse for bullying. Anyone caught should be sent to the juvenile justice system. If this were done, our schools would be safer. Also, reform schools would be a good place to isolate the violent and hurtful so the rest of the children can get an education free from harm and intimidation.
I am a strong supported of school choice and parochial schools. These schools are better academically and safer for students to learn. And, in this day and age, home schooling is also a good option. If the bullying issue can’t be resolved due to political correctness or lack of will, then students and their families can vote with their feet and leave the school for a choice school, parochial school, another better district public school or home school. There are a lot of resources out there for home schooling now a days and on line schools. No one should have to put up with bullying and we need to do more to stop it.

Anne H.
9 years ago

Back in the 50’s teachers and administrators still had the power to punish students who misbehaved. They were sent to the principals office. Action was taken. No longer is there accountability of the STUDENT. Kids that fail are promoted when they are not prepared. We have created this entitled mentality/society. Hard work is not encouraged or rewarded.
There are plenty of GOOD teachers & administrators who likewise are not rewarded.
It’s a tough job & those who do it well need to be promoted, rewarded & recognized. Those who have their blinders on need to be dismissed. The future is about the success of our schools which IS about individual ACCOUNTABILITY on every level; from students to administrators. Time for an overhaul.

ONTIME
9 years ago

Have you ever been forced to confront a bully and put them in their place by whatever means the rules call for? From experience, I can tell you it is a part of growing up and you learn that backing down is appeasement and bullies love whiners and those to afraid to take them on, to a bully this is enabling and encourages more of the same to keep the game on….if you want to survive with dignity and encourage civility in this unfair world you had better learn the rules of self preservation, courage and applied morality….

ch3330
9 years ago

I got home from school and commenced to feed the cattle. A young bull charged at me. Going over the barb-wire fence, I scratched my leg.

On a summer day, as I was reeling in a nice size fish, a bigger one came by and swallowed my prize catch.

Get the idea? Only rabid Liberals can play ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, believe, and live by the songs, as they occupy the Sky-Castle on The ‘Yellow Brick Road’.

Grow-up folks – get your feet on the ground, and face life. TAKE CHARGE!

We applaud one million abortions per year, see a live birth as an inconvenience, and let the government take control and dictate where your children will be educated and imprinted.
As you watch DWTS and expect the children will be protected by a Guarding Angel, that is not permitted discussion in the public school.
Your not watching? Who is?

Robert R. Smith
9 years ago

I DO NOT DEFEND BULLYING.
But consider what is current teen and your adult amusements.
They feature KILL, HURT, BLOOD and so on and on.
AND LOUD!!!! I have not been to a movie for several years, regardless of content, as the noise level
actually makes me ill.
THE POLITICAL SCENE does not help, and it is not JUST Liberals, or not JUST Conservatives.
The steady invective and gross lack of moral commitment is horrifying.
Poor George W. He would not hav e been a leader in this day and ago if he could not
tell a lie.
But all the above puts pressure on all of us.
Children (and adults) have been “bullying” others, in one form or another, since man appeared;
It will not change now.
Do not emphasize the issue, EMPHASIZE the PROBLEM – THE CURRENT MORAL DECLINE! RRS

Randy H.
9 years ago

The sad thing about this is……the lack of respect for ourselves and for others, I feel , is at the root of all of this.
IF we respected ourselves, and had respect for others, the need to feel power over others wouldn’t be there.
Bullying is the need for power……..control over others…….and can and will lead to hurting others.
It is an adrenaline rush to be powerful….and it is wrong.
We need to teach our young to love and respect ourselves first, then love and respect others as we do ourselves.
Only then……maybe this will stop.

Lucy Mauterer
9 years ago
Reply to  Randy H.

But for now, when there are those who do not respect others, what is your solution? Be all lovey dovey to the bullies? Sorry, that dog won’t hunt. You still have to stand up to them.

Dan Farrell
9 years ago

I have been bullied in school back in the 1960’s, I avoided the bullies who were relatively few in number. I have also worked as an investigator for a school district in California and as a D.A.R.E. officer in a very good small school district in Washington state. I have been in the hallway with 5 or 600 students going from class to class and witnessed a dozen acts that could be interpreted as bullying or intimidation in under a minute. Someone knocks someone’s hat off, someone else bumps into someone, someone calls someone a name, someone knocks books out of someone’s hand or slams their locker shut. Some incidents are playful joking, some are teasing someone who is handicapped in some way, some are trying to make someone’s life at school hell on earth. It is not always easy to tell which is which. All this was being done with a 6-3″ uniformed police officer in the hallway. Which incident is a joke, which is an isolated incident, which incident is part of an ongoing campaign of harassment. My school district worked hard at preventing bullying but it is impossible to prevent every incident, to be everywhere and to protect everyone everytime.

Lucy Mauterer
9 years ago
Reply to  Dan Farrell

So, if you are standing in the hallway, what can you actually do about the bullying incidents you describe?

K. Murphy
9 years ago

As a teacher for 38 years, I have found it very hard to determine whether bullying is occurring. Students lie, make up stories, spin stories to account for their behaviors. The bullied often respond in an equally mean manner which then confuses who is and isn’t being bullied. The tone of a student is noted when I believe there is bullying, but then it becomes a “he said, she said” situation. We as educators do not have the luxury of picking who we do and do not believe when students are not forthcoming with the truth. Unless there is repeated obvious “picking on another” without response from the bullied, and the bullied reports it over and over so one can be monitored, it is a very difficult determination to make at the classroom level.

Oldclimber
9 years ago

Ken stated and started discussion on the most important aspect of this “bullying” bull. It has become endemic to our depraved society. Anyone only need follow the history of cultural heritages that encourage the current “progression” towards a savage, “put them in the ground” opposition to anyone who is just different. This was not an acceptable, mainstream standard up until a few decades ago, as now popularized by the “in your face, up your a.., f.. you” media sensationalists. It is this aspect of lack of true civilization that has become one of the defining factors of our society’s trajectory into a fear frenzy and resultant paralytic rigor. This is precisely what the other contributors of decline, the Muslim “strategists”, of destruction that is, have had in mind for the last so many decades. That we as a society adopt the ghetto standard of etiquette and societal behavior that precisely augments their own “divide and conquer” method of Sharia “Law” and devotion to destruction. And the last contributors are the stupid, who are unaware of their own decline due to a self centered, sloth motivated narrowness of perception, or who are so self-destructively hysterical with fear that they are frozen into mantra like repetitions of universally failed actions and policy. The bully and the rise of the bully are the starkest indicator of a loss of heart, courage and faith in the ultimate triumph of Good over Evil, not that any one of us, except one, has ever been truly Good. We can only try our best. The bully, all of them from the White House on down the economic and power scale to the government subsidized squatter on our society’s resources, have given up on Good, and have striven through the few actual workers of their party to redefine themselves as the embodiment of that name. Fools and their followers, all.

Lucy Mauterer
9 years ago
Reply to  Oldclimber

You obviously did not grow up in the South, pre-desegregation times. Ever heard of lynching someone just because they were black? It happened here with sad regularity, from the end of the Civil War on. And was acceptible in many circles.

Thomas
9 years ago

I have seen bullying increase because the friends of those being bullied do not defend their friend in fear of retaliation themselves. Schools are a breeding ground for bullying and school officials want to resolve problems with talking.
Bull. Stand up to bullies and fight back. It worked 50 years ago.

Frank
9 years ago
Reply to  Thomas

I was a victim of bullying while growing up both in school and some in the military.
In school it was a group of boys. I beat the crap out of each one when they were alone. The leader of the group fould himself face to face with me and his homies stepped back. I beat him into the ground. After this , the group quit their behavior.
In the military , the problems was solved when ” mr great” was choked out.
Bullies do not do well when confronted.
Standing up for what is right is needed more these days. Bullying is not just the bullied persons problem. It is everyone’s problem. YOU ARE next if you do not do something about it.

JUST check out how the citizens are currently being treated by our government under the gay arabs thumb

Duke of Earle
9 years ago

You ask, “Were jobs lost and replacements made that would restore a positive culture at the school?” Good luck with that. Have you any idea how hard it is to “get fired” as a teacher? I want to believe that the majority of teachers are dedicated and would do all they can to prevent the kind of bullying you describe. But the few who don’t care and have been around for a while often must do something truly outrageous to lose their jobs. Administrators as well, in some cases.

techwreck
9 years ago

It sounds like both the parents and school let Gabrielle Molina down.

While the school let her down, we are often too quick to assign blame to others alone. The family is a child’s first level of protection, yet Jedidiah is quick to blame the school without explaining the action the parent(s) took. “George Molina fumed that Gabrielle’s school, IS 109, did not respond quickly enough when the family complained to administrators about the online footage.” doesn’t tell us if the family’s action was a note, a phone call, or protracted meetings with school personnel to resolve the bullying.

Newspaper reports said that thee were problems in the Molina household and that “Gabby” had problems with self abuse. So, it does not sound reasonable to assign 100% of the responsibility for Gabby’s death to school personnel.

Chip
9 years ago

A doubled up fist to the nose of a bully followed by a fist to the jaw works just about every time.

Kenneth
9 years ago

How can we stop bullying amongst us when own Government uses the IRS and the Justice Dept. to bully and intimidate its own citizens. The example has to start from the top.

Elljay See
9 years ago
Reply to  Kenneth

You took the words right out of my mouth. America’s top bully is at 1600.

Father Daniel Beegan D.Sc. in defense studies and ethics of war
9 years ago

Miss Bila,

I am sufficiently older than you that home was a refuge from school. There were no home computers, smart phones, tablets, etc. allowing bullies to follow me past my parents’ front door and bullied I was. I was the kid from a small town thrust into a big city government school system. Not to brag, but simply stating fact, I was brighter than well over 90 percent of the students.

Although this was at the height of forced integration, the bullying came primarily from my own, ethnic whites, not Blacks.

I was saved by transferring to a Roman Catholic junior high and by an Eastern Orthodox priest who kept an eye on me on the walk home to make sure no one was picking on me.

High school in a small Vermont town was fine and after that, I began packing heat.

Dr Daniel Beegan

Lucy Mauterer
9 years ago

So, you basically had someone protect you until you graduated high school, after which you simply carried a gun for protection. Have you never been in a real knock down, drag out fight? I’m probably the same age as you and I certainly have. No one ever protected me. I had a date try to rape me one time. He was on the football team. Hurt him pretty bad. I also have a nice little handgun, but would rather rely on my attitude of power first, to cause an attacker to stand down. That said, I would still have no trouble shooting them dead if necessary. My dog can always use the extra dog food.

Michael
9 years ago

On the money. Great points.

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