Sunday, October 16, 2011

Anderson Cooper 360 Series - Bullying, It Stops Here

It's 2:30AM and I'm watching the Anderson Cooper 360 series on bullying. Although it seems to air at the wrong time for the people who really need to see it,  it's an eye-opening series with co-hosts Kelly Rippa, Dr. Phil, and  Rosalind Wiseman; best-selling author of “Queen Bees and Wannabees.” The series also features several students from the now famous Anoka-Hennepin School District, located in Michele Bachmann's district in Minnesota. Seemingly wise beyond their years, these students came on TV and told their stories of how the "neutrality policy" of this school district has not only places their lives in danger, but also fosters and creates a place where bullies are free to say and do whatever they please to other students, knowing that there are no consequences from the teachers and administration. In one story the very intelligent young man told of going to the bathroom and having another student pee on him from above in a stall. As his fellow student pointed out (he's African American), if the "N" word is used against him,  more happens to make the bully responsible than if he's called gay, faggot, or other demeaning words.

Dr. Phil pointed out that much of the bullying is the responsibility of the parents, further saying that it's not acceptable for teachers, administrators and parents to say that "it didn't happen on school grounds." His philosophy, and mine, is that bullying starts in the home and parents must be made responsible for the actions of their kids. The excuse that "they never said anything to me" doesn't hold water with Dr. Phil, who says that it doesn't make a difference what they don't say, it's the parents job to know what their kids are doing in their rooms, behind locked doors, what they are saying on the FaceBook page (a sponsor of the program) and MySpace pages, and who they are hanging out with and why.

In my very first blog about bullying I said the very same ting. Parents must take responsibility for the actions of their kids, whether they're a bully or being bullied. But this district seems to be one of the exceptions in that parents are almost equally divided in their thought that bullying is/is not an issue. Yet the rate of suicide among teens in this district is the highest in the country in the last few years, resulting in the deaths of more than six teens from bullying. Yet officials, including Bachmann, remain mute and unapproachable about changing the policy of neutrality.

In a short camera clip caught on tape one teacher actually reprimanded a bullied student in front of the bully because he didn't walk away or ignore the bully's taunting. It was a clip that would make anyone mad enough to want to shake that teacher and say, "WAKE UP STUPID," what are you thinking and saying by blaming the bullied kid for being pushed around and called names by others. Neutrality is a dangerous attitude and it must be changed. That's the goal of these segments and hopefully, along with a new program circulating around the internet that asks people to pledge to stop bullying, it will change. But as we know, change comes slow. Meanwhile our kids are dying an emotional, and often physical death while teachers, administrators, parents and politicians stand by and either ignore, or in the case of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, actually encourage bullying.

I encourage each of you to sign the Anti-Bullying Pledge on the internet and join the 73,000 people that have already signed. The pledge is available on this blog 24/7 or go to to sign up.

 "Bullying: It Stops Here",  now...not later!

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