Turning on the news, I see a clip of two boys. The smaller of the two walks up to the other boy, a big boy, and punches him in the face. Finally, after much taunting, the older boy snaps, picks up his tormentor and throws him to the ground.
Rewind to April 20 1999 and the tragedy of the Columbine school shooting. One of the two shooters, Eric Harris stated in his suicide note, “Your children, who have ridiculed me, who have chosen not to accept me, who have treated me like I am not worth their time, are dead.”
Experts report that bullying is a serious and widespread problem which can lead to school shootings and suicide. Not only that, but it is dangerously underrated as schools and adults are not taking the problem serious enough.
Day after day throughout the country, kids wake up terrified to go to school, knowing they will be the victims of teasing, taunting, name-calling or physical abuse.
“…we all want our children to …learn in an environment that is free from violence and fear. For far too many children, that is not the reality.” (Fox 54).
School bullying has likely existed as long as schools themselves. The consequences of such bullying were once limited to name-calling and occasional schoolyard fights. In recent years, however, school bullying has taken a more serious turn; more and more frequently, bullied students are turning to violence as a solution—either through suicide or through deadly acts carried out against their persecutors and other students.
Schools are not doing all they can to have a true “Bully Free Zone”; moreover, they are going about it in the wrong way. Let us look at some of the ways schools are responding to the bullying issue.
Zero Tolerance began as law calling for expulsion for having a gun on school property, but has morphed into a way of dealing with bullying, drugs, alcohol and any act of violence, be it physical, verbal or attitudinal. In some school districts, Zero Tolerance has slowly become synonymous with "we don't want to put up with any sort of nonsense." Such policies impose severe consequences for violations and, in some cases; this is doing more harm than good. Here are just a few reasons why zero tolerance policies don’t work.
First, zero tolerance can hurt the victim of bullying. Let us consider this scenario:
A child has been bullied for quite some time. Thus far, the bullying has taken the form of humiliation and verbal abuse, but today… today it gets physical and the child is attacked by his tormentors. He fights back to get away. The teacher takes all the students to the principal who, upon hearing what happened, suspends or expels all of the students, including the victim. Under a zero tolerance policy he has no flexibility to consider the circumstances because physical violence is across the board unacceptable.
“Time after time, as student and teacher, I had seen kids get punished when they tried to defend themselves after repeated abuse that was committed with...