Thursday, April 01, 2010
Random Question Thursday: On Bullying
A story out of South Hadley, Mass. has my husband and me reliving an argument from a couple of years ago.
A 17-year-old high school student in the western Massachusetts town, Phoebe Prince, committed suicide after enduring months bullying that allegedly included physical assaults, vicious taunts and name-calling by other teens.
The tragedy has sparked a public outcry that students who participated in the shameful behavior be charged in connection with her death, and that school officials be held accountable for not protecting her from her tormentors.
Our positions haven't changed much since the discussion began in 2008 after a Missouri woman named Lori Drew was indicted on a charge of cyberbullying following the 2006 suicide of a teenager - Megan Meier. Drew was convicted but later acquitted of the crime.
I think our laws are sufficient with respect to harrassment and endangerment, and to change them in light of extreme cases will change our society in a really dangerous way. Making new laws that penalize "bullies," specifically people who use words as their their weapons, will not only make meanness a little more stealth, but may also snag anyone who ever makes a protected but unwanted observation.
In the cases of bullying, I think we need to strengthen our kids and their ability to stand up for themselves and others. I think we do that by being brave even if we have to fake bravery.
He thinks we make societal changes through laws and penalties.
What do you think?