Friday, April 29, 2005

The Anti-Bullying Policy In Carlsbad, California: Too Little, Too Late

John Roach, Superintendent of the Carlsbad (California) Unified School District, has recommended that the governing board finally approve a policy designed to halt schoolyard bullying:

Carlsbad's proposed two-page anti-bullying policy prohibits bullying in many forms: shoving, hitting, teasing, name calling, social isolation or manipulation. Students are expected to report bullying immediately. And school employees are expected to conduct a prompt, thorough, confidential investigation of any bullying they learn of and to intervene when they witness harassment.
The proposed policy states that retaliation against anyone complaining will not be tolerated; penalties for bullying range from a "verbal warning" to expulsion.

Tragically, it took the
suicide of a 12-year-old student that had been "picked-on" by several bullies before the anything was done.

As is common with many other noble-minded board policies, the anti-bullying rule sounds good on paper, but the reality will likely be very different.

In my years of service as a classroom teacher in California, it has been my experience that most instances of bullying that are reported will result in nothing more than a verbal warning being given to the bully. Oftentimes, the same bully is repeatedly given, "another chance."

In order for a bully to actually be suspended or expelled, the victim will probably have to sustain a concussion or other major bodily injury. In those cases, the damage to the victim will have already been done.
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