As we near the end of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week (October 4th -10th)I am pleased that so many have responded to our STOMP Out Bullying campaign and BLUE SHIRT Day. Since its launch in October, 2008, over 54,000 kids and parents have made the commitment to STOMP Out Bullying. And people across the country wore blue shirts to work and to school. Scripps Ranch High School in San Diego was a sea of blue as almost 2600 kids wore blue shirts to STOMP Out Bullying. But there’s a lot more work to do to keep our kids safe.
It is heartbreaking to hear about the fatal beating of Derrion Albert in Chicago, the attack of a 14 year-old boy in New Jersey who suffered from multiple fractures by three 16 year-old boys who kicked and stomped him, and the 12-year-old boy on Coral Springs, FL who faces first-degree murder charges after allegedly stabbing a 13-year-old boy in the back with a kitchen knife. All of this since school began one month ago.
Violent behavior that robs our children of their childhood, education and at times their lives, and continues a cycle of violence is not acceptable. Parents can no longer live in denial when their children are accused of violent behavior and schools can no longer sweep this issue under the rug, as they’ve been doing this for far too long.
According to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resources Center, over 5.7 million children in the U.S. are involved in bullying either as a victim or culprit –or both. That’s 30% of school kids.
A new CCRC survey finds that U.S. children are routinely exposed to even more violence and abuse than has previously been recognized, with nearly half experiencing a physical assault in the study year.
The survey findings conclude that:
• More than 60 percent of the children surveyed were exposed to violence within the past year, either directly or indirectly.
• Nearly one-half of the children and adolescents surveyed were assaulted at least once in the past year, and more than 1 in 10 were injured as a result.
• Nearly one-quarter of the respondents were the victim of a robbery, vandalism, or theft.
• One-tenth of respondents were victims of child maltreatment (including physical and emotional abuse, neglect, or a family abduction), and 1 in 16 were victimized sexually.
Violence against children has become a national crisis. It’s not just in Chicago, New Jersey or Miami-Dade, it’s all over the country. While schools have been sweeping this issue under the rug far too long, they must enforce policies and educate students on this subject. Schools must introduce violence prevention which covers bullying and cyberbullying into their curriculum – insisting that parents participate in school committees to understand the curriculum and bring it into their homes and communities.
And for parents who live in denial saying “My child would never harm anyone” or worse take a “so what” attitude, think again. Kids learn these behaviors at home. Whether it’s a parent who is violent, to a parent who handles conflict in an angry and negative way, a parent who is full of hatred or to a parent who just doesn’t have the time to be involved in their children’s lives … this is learned behavior. What is learned can be unlearned.
Ultimately it’s up to the students to stop the violence and create violence-free communities in their schools and neighborhoods. But they need the support of their schools and families.
So very often people make comments such as “the kids need to toughen up” or think the violence only happens in poor neighborhoods. Not true! School violence is no longer a right of passage. Our kids are living in a very different world than we did and with the Internet and our youth not understanding the consequences of their behavior, it’s a real problem. Kids think it’s fun to beat someone up and place the video of it on YouTube. And, violence does not discriminate. It can occur in poor, middle income and wealthy neighborhoods.
It’s time for parents and schools to work together, introduce violence prevention curriculum into all schools across the country and empower our kids to say ENOUGH! No more violence at school or in our communities.