Throughout the country, the “bullying epidemic” has gone viral. Schools hold seminars on it and districts, including Racine Unified, have policies to address bullying.

But at least one Republican state lawmaker is saying seminars and policies don’t go far enough, and he has proposed a law where teachers can be fined $200 for not reporting bullying.

That makes some sense for a case where a kid is pushed repeatedly right in front of a teacher and the teacher walks away, or if a teacher intercepts derogatory notes directed at another student and crumples them up without action.

Unfortunately, most bullying is not that obvious. It’s done away from teachers, and far more often on smartphones or computers, particularly with teens and tweens.

We heard about it recently in highly publicized Steubenville, Ohio, where two girls, ages 15 and 16, where charged with sending threats through Twitter to the girl who had been raped by two football players.

Similarly in Connecticut, two 13-year-olds who were allegedly sexually assaulted by football players were blamed through Twitter for “ruining the lives” of the players.

Those are two very severe bullying cases, but almost certainly there are cases just as serious here that we don’t hear about and that don’t generate national attention.

According to Unified School District’s bullying policy, bullying includes everything from physical shoving or kicking someone to teasing, rumors and name-calling. It also includes any bullying that takes place on school equipment, through cyber-bullying. The policy says it is students’ and staff’s responsibility to report acts of bullying that occur at school or at school-sponsored activities. Upon receipt of the complaint, the principal or a designee will conduct an investigation.

The law proposed by state Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, would put some teeth behind that law by imposing a fine. But the law assumes that the teacher knows about the bullying, and that may not be the case. So instead of spending time investigating bullying, this law will have administrators investigating teachers to try to determine what they knew.

Also, Wisconsin Association of School Boards spokesman Dan Rossmiller said he fears the proposal could lead to teachers over-identifying student behavior as bullying due to fears of being penalized, the State Journal reported.

If a teacher definitively knows about a case of repeated harassment and stands by despite knowing about the school’s policy, then that teacher deserves more than a $200 fine. Unfortunately, the teachers don’t always know because it often doesn’t happen on their watches.

In order to draw attention to some of the bullying in our own community, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center recently held a rally where kids and adults pledged not to bully each other. It’s hard to say how long these pledges will last for some who go back to their old ways quickly, but these types of pledges give us all a chance to think about our actions.

Getting the community involved is the right thing to do since teachers alone are not all-knowing, as much as we want our kids to think that. But $200 bullying fines only end up bullying teachers.

(7) comments

loudascanbex3
loudascanbex3

Bullying in all schools has always been a huge problem . But, within the last five years or so, it seems to be at it’s highest peak. The National Educational Association said that, “It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students”. This is not normal nor should this be happening in our society. We should all respect one another and not judge each other. We, as a society, need to accept the differences between each other rather than put someone down for it. I agree with the Journal Times Editorial Board on how it has been proven that teachers are more bystanders when it comes to witnessing bullying in a classroom. I somewhat agree with Katydid12 when she says this, “One more idiotic proposal that presumes teachers are responsible for everything from policing their students to preventing wholesale slaughter of kids in our schools. Instead of a proposal to address the actual problem they propose punishing the people who are LEAST responsible for what is going on”. She is stating that how this proposal is pinning the blame on the teachers rather than the students when it comes to bullying, which I agree with. But, teachers should get a penalty along with the bully so the blame isn’t just all on the teacher. Every state, and every school district has different regulations when it comes to bullying in their community. At Noble High School in North Berwick, Maine provides this as a regulation, “Bullying, as defined in this policy is not acceptable in M.S.A.D. #60 schools and is prohibited. Any students who engages in conduct that constitutes bullying shall be subjected to disciplinary consequences up to and including suspension and expulsion. A student’s bullying behavior may also be addressed through other behavioral interventions.” Every school regulations are different when it comes to this issue. Bullying needs to stop because not only can it affect a person for the rest of their life but it can make a person feel so bad about themselves that they decide to commit suicide. It is said that, “Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year”(CDC). We, as a community and society, need to realize the differences among other people and accept these differences. There is no reason why we should judge one another just by everyone’s differences. This needs to stop and we need to find a way to cure the disease fast.

Jedlex
Jedlex

Somewhat is correct. Because I had encountered teachers that doesn't take action about their students being bullied at school.
One of my children is being bullied online. And I as a parent, I somehow blame my self for being so busy lately that when I arrived in home, runs to bed, and sleep. I can't manage them anymore.
I searched and look for something that can help me out and found something valuable. The PGguard (www.pgguard.com) an online parenting method which helped me out to connect to my child's social life.

TSEliot
TSEliot

While reporting school bullying should be the perview of teachers, blaming them for a student's behaviors is not placing accountability with the correct person. Parents should be responsible for their children, and children should be held responsible for inappropriate behaviors.

katydid12
katydid12

One more idiotic proposal that presumes teahers are reposnsible for everything from policing their students to preventing wholesale slaughter of kids in our schools. Instead of a proposal to address the actual problem they propose punishing the people who are LEAST responsible for what is going on.

If we are going to fine an adult for a child's actions, how aboput starting in the home? Fine the parents for raising a child who is so lacking in empathy and compassion that he bullies other kids. Or better yet, punish the KIDS themselves. When we tell kids that their unacceptable behavior is someone else's fault we encourage them to repeat the behavior again and again.

Taking away their smart phones and replacing them with non-web enabled cell phone (yes, they do still make them) might be a good place to start.

Jacob S
Jacob S

I Support this Law Proposal 100%

katydid12
katydid12

Why?

Zigmond
Zigmond

What is wrong with a pink slip and an escort out of the building?

I see no mention of what to do when the teacher is the bully. {snip} 15 Year Old Wisconsin Conservative Meets Bullying From Teachers - http://www.freedomworks.org/blog/benjibacker/15-year-old-wisconsin-conservative-meets-bullying

This kid is great, here him talk about this on the Vicki McKenna podcast here ---> http://www.newstalk1130.com/cc-common/podcast/single_page.html?podcast=vicki_mckenna

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