Anti-bullying rally draws state Capitol crowd
BY World's Editorial Writers
Monday, March 28, 2011
3/28/11 at 3:54 AM
Last week about 1,000 people - students, school officials, advocates and others - attended an anti-bullying rally at the state Capitol. Included in the number were about 150 Tulsa Public Schools students.
The number is significant because it's not easy to generate a crowd that size for an ad hoc rally of this nature. Most of the students there had stories to tell about their own personal experiences with bullying. That's significant, too, because national statistics show that for every adolescent or teen willing to step forward and report that they've been victimized by bullies, there are two more who just keep quiet.
Bullying can start in elementary school and continue through high school, but it is most common in middle school. The victims are bullied for any number of reasons - physical characteristics like weight, religion, ethnicity, sexuality or even because they are perceived as interlopers or a threat to the ruling student hierarchy.
In one survey, about a third of adolescents and teens reported they were bullied at school, 11 percent physically. Recent headlines have made it painfully clear that unchecked, bullying can lead to physical injury to victims, or in the most tragic cases, their suicides.
Bullying has always been with us, but the problem is exacerbated by the rise of the Internet and social networking media.
Last week's Capitol rally was hosted by Rep. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, in support of House Bill 1461. That measure, authored by Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, and Sen. Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater, has passed the House and is in a Senate committee. It would require schools to adopt anti-bullying policies - including methods for reporting and contacting parents - and to create a system of consequences for perpetrators. It includes cyberbullying.
Bullying in all its forms is a big and growing problem. The Legislature ought to act decisively against it.
Original Print Headline: Bullying