Administration cracks down on bullying

Most schools in the country have reports of bullying each year, unfortunately RB is no exception. 15% of kids report being bullied “frequently” across the country annually. Bullying is believed to be responsible for fueling a number of school shootings and violence in schools generally. Gender also appears to play a role, boys are twice as likely to experience harassment by other students as girls. One of the largest roadblocks in preventing bullying is the fact that it is widely unreported. It’s estimated that as much as 60% of instances of bullying go unreported.

Assistant Principal John Passarella said “bullying at RB echoes national trends, it just doesn’t always get reported. If one student is being bullied, it is a significant problem.” When asked about what classifies as bullying, Passarella stated “anything that makes a student feel intimidated or uncomfortable.” Passarella commented that “students have a right to come to school and feel safe.”

An anonymous victim of bullying came through, and said students have bullied the victim since the victim moved to the district in sixth grade.  “I’ve had to deal with being called “fag” “homo” “freak” … and other terrible names,” said the anonymous victim. This person also said that peers at school  have inflicted physical abuse, “people throw their lunch at me,” The bullied also mentioned that it wasn’t just at school that these wrongs occurred, the harassment happened on Halloween, and even over the weekend while the victim was hanging out with friends.

When asked how this feels, the victim replied, “sometimes I just wanna scream back at them and throw things back at them, but I know it won’t solve anything. I feel tension everywhere.”

Although the victim reported the harassment that happened throughout grade school, it was never resolved. “I dealt with it for four years until one day it went too far. I felt like I snapped and broke down crying in my classroom and ran out. That was the day I reported it, and things started to get resolved,” the victim said.  “It hasn’t been resolved, and never is going to be fully resolved. People are just insensitive to me.”

It has been found that bullying has veered away from its former stereotype of haggling people for lunch money, and has adapted to new forms like cyber bullying (internet bullying). Social Science Department Chair and staff sponsor for AST (association for student tolerance) John Beasley noticed this when he said “this is the sort of thing that is more frequent between younger girls and boys labeling each other or calling each other names.”

Last month, AST held a meeting, where the subject of bullying, was discussed. Beasley said AST “talks about issues when they percolate “. “AST’s big focus is community service, we haven’t discussed bullying much because there hasn’t been a groundswell of interest,” said Beasley. Beasley did say “though bullying is not the main focus of AST, they still promote peer tolerance, as I believe every organization in the school does”.

Recently, there has been an increase of bullying awareness around RB, this can be seen on the morning student bulletin, as well as on bulletins around the school hallways. Passarella explained for the recent action being taken, “I had a student being bullied for being gay. When that occurred, I realized there may be other kids being bullied that don’t know there is help for them.”  Beasley said he noticed “no increase in bullying activity”, and also mentioned “RB is not a place where cliques are as present as they are at other schools, or they are at least, more subtle.”

The victim said the only way they get through their day is by “standing strong, I tell myself every day that I am a great person and that everyone who looks past [my opinions] gets to truly know me.  I really try hard to take care of people and help a person who are bullied for all reasons, that’s why it’s so important that [my message] gets heard.  We all try to prevent all types of bullying.”

“If a problem starts at school, and continues outside of school, the school has a legal right to punish the bullying student.”  Consequences differ for bullying based on the level of severity. “Worst case scenario, students can be arrested, suspended, or removed from a setting, lunch/classrooms etc. Other consequences may also have affect. In the one case I dealt with, it was affective,” said Passarella. Beasley believes its “incumbent on all schools to protect all students, and make them feel safe to express divergent viewpoints.”

Passarella stated the school “takes bullying seriously, in my opinion it is an act of cowardice. In most cases, it’s a large group of students picking on single students that appear to be weaker. You never see a bully in a good fight.”

So far, only one major case of bullying has been reported at RB, along with several subtle cases. Bullying has happened for a multiple of reasons, ranging from sexual orientation, to race. Teachers have worked to intervene with bullying, but it often happens when teachers or security is not present, instead in the presence of other students. “Some students have called it out in an act to prevent it” said Passarella. 

Since December, only one more case of bullying was reported, it was a case of cyber bullying. “The students responsible for the bullying were disciplined and the family of the victim as happy with the consequences that took place”, said Passarella. “It is not a game to us, the discipline for bullies is stern and appropriate,” Passarella said.

Victims of bullying are encouraged to contact Mr. Passarella, David Sibley or any teacher at the school for help. Identities are promised to be kept anonymous, and the RB community is doing everything in its power to put a stop to the problem /and or limit it. Passarella stated “the last thing I want is for a student to feel desperate.”

Featured below is what students have been saying about bullying at RB.

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