By Senator Kent Williams
U.S. Department of Education officials are urging our school leaders to push back against bullying and create a safer learning environment. The issue of bullying is complex, as are its solutions.
There are Department of Education issued guidelines to support educators in combating bullying in schools by clarifying when student bullying may violate federal education anti-discrimination laws.
The age-old problem of bullying has adapted to changing times, moving from playgrounds and school hallways to Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagram and text messages. Cyberbullying, as online or electronic bullying is called, is just as troublesome as physical bullying.
Regardless of the form, bullying must not be tolerated. Recent headlines show that bullying can lead to tragedy, as children across the country have ended their own lives to escape the relentless torture of bullies’ cruel acts.
“We’ve got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage, or an inevitable part of growing up. It’s not.” President Barack Obama added, “Every single young person deserves the opportunity to learn and grow and achieve their potential, without having to worry about the constant threat of harassment.” The Obama administration hosted the nation’s first National Bullying Summit, as part of a comprehensive effort to end bullying.
According to officials, the effects of bullying include:
• Lowered academic achievement and aspirations
• Increased anxiety
• Loss of self-esteem and confidence
• General deterioration in physical health
• Self-harm and suicidal thinking
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in statement on bullying, “No one should ever feel harassed or unsafe in a school simply because they act or think or dress differently than others. To every student who feels threatened or harassed – for whatever reason – please know that you are not alone. Please know that there are people who love you.”
We, as citizens, parents, educators, should do all we can to eliminate the climate of fear in our schools and encourage the power of learning in young minds.
I want to hear your opinions and suggestions concerning these issues. Please contact me in my Columbia office located at 602 Gressette Office Building. You can reach me, or a member of my staff in Columbia at (803) 212-6008 or by fax at (803) 212-6011. My district office is located at 137 Airport Road, Suite J, Mullins, SC 29574, the phone number is (843) 423-8237 and the fax number is (843) 431-6049. You may also email me at [email protected] My business phone is (843) 423-3904. Please use this information to write, call or email me with your suggestions and concerns regarding issues before the Senate and in our community.