The Garden City Telegram
8/24/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Bully battle

Extra strategies welcome in deterring bad behavior.

Bullying is nothing new.

In the past, educators and parents often passed off bullying as a fact of life, and part of growing up.

More recently, however, high-profile cases of school violence, suicides and acts of physical and verbal harassment in schools and beyond changed that way of thinking — a necessary shift amid a changing landscape in homes and schools.

Growing violence on television and video games has made some youngsters less sensitive to consequences of bullying and violent behavior. Plus, social networking has brought fertile ground for bullies who can engage in taunts online at practically any time.

Knowing bullying in schools could worsen without action, the state of Kansas passed a law in 2007 requiring school districts to implement anti-bullying policies.

Districts such as Garden City USD 457 have bullying-prevention workshops, among other strategies. Staff and students have made strides with initiatives designed to teach problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills. Students are urged to communicate, rather than retaliate.

But a number of school districts in the state have struggled to put anti-bullying efforts in place. The cost of such intervention projects has been an issue for some, with others not sure on the best plan for their schools and communities.

With such challenges in mind, it's good to know districts will be in line for an assist from a University of Kansas research team.

The Kansas Department of Education has asked the KU research team to create a model policy on bullying that schools could modify to fit their specific circumstances.

The best policies should indeed reflect what's going on in individual communities. Parents, social services agencies, law enforcement officers and others also must be part of a multifaceted strategy that addresses local issues.

That said, school districts with comprehensive anti-bullying policies in place also could learn from the researchers' efforts and recommendations.

No school district or community, regardless of its efforts, is immune from the painful and even tragic consequences of bullying.

And no one should be satisfied until the growing threat of bullying is tackled from every angle, and with all the resources we can provide.