Bully Pulpit on Bullying Pupils

On Friday there was an assembly with many of the Higher Ed student (those going into 6th – 10th grade). The students were split by gender and the boys had a visitor talk to them about bullying. Bullying has existed and will continue to exist forever, but it is good that the Migrant Ed Summer School is willing to spend some time to try and limit the amount of people bullying. I noticed during the presentation that there was more of an emphasis placed on cyber bullying than when I sat through similar assemblies just a few years ago. Cyber bullying wasn’t brought up as much when I was a kids since Facebook and other social media platforms didn’t exist or were still very new. But teachers are recognizing that cyber bullying is perhaps the easiest and thus the most dangerous form of bullying. Kids are able to instantly spread hurtful things without seeing the effect their words have one their victims.

Schools too have been adapting to this new medium of bullying. Many schools now deem any activity outside of school that has a negative effect on a student and disrupts school activities, even if it is online or meant to be private, to be bullying. This means that text messages or Snapchat pictures which take seconds to send can result in days or weeks of suspension. This reasoning follows the substantial disruption test that schools have adhered to since Tinker v. Des Moines. The expansion of this test to include interactions on the Internet is still new and as a result rules and regulations are still somewhat vague.

Viewing bullying from the perspective of a teacher has taught me that many students really don’t understand the consequences of their actions. A teacher was telling me about how a student in my class was suspended a few days for cyber bullying. It surprised me to learn that this kid, who I believed to be nice, smart, and passionate, was capable of saying such mean things to someone. I did learn that of the kids caught bullying, this student was apparently the only one who truly apologized in person to the girl who was bullied. I should say that I don’t think that this kid is bad. I think he made a bad judgement and had bad influences around him that caused him to make a rash, public, and hopefully final mistake. Though there are some students who continue to bully despite being punished, I’ve noticed that that group of students is the minority. The boys in that assembly, especially the younger ones, seemed to take the lessons, tips, and warnings to heart.

Nate Kumar ’19