Every day, thousands of kids are afraid to go to school because of bullies, says a curriculum provided to schools by the state department of education.
Studies show that bullying can cause depression, low self-esteem, and truancy among children of all ages.
In a video, “Bullying: You Don’t Have to Take it Anymore,” presented to Clay High School students, a female narrator states that 15 percent of all students are bullied and 160,000 skip school each year as a result.
Parents of the victim often resort to moving to another community or transferring their child to another school, but the suffering goes beyond that. Without intervention, bullies also suffer.
As adults, bullies require more support from government agencies, have more court convictions and alcoholism, and use more mental health services, states the state curriculum provided to The Press by Clay faculty member Joe Guerrero.
Oregon policeman Tim McLeod, the Clay resource officer, is working with a University of Toledo professor to develop a anonymous bullying reporting website that will be linked to the Oregon City Schools website. McLeod says it should be up and running within the next couple weeks.
Oregon Community and Family Coalition youth coordinator Rebecca Woodward surveyed Clay students to see what their biggest concern at school is. She says her survey is indicative of results found in nearly all districts in the region.
“Out of 65 students who took the survey, the vast majority said the biggest trend, the biggest problem they see at Clay High School is bullying,” Woodward said.
“It’s definitely an issue that needs to be dealt with. Online bullying is part of it because of the dangers how it affects the school system — whatever happens online is brought into the school system where it is talked about, even though the online bullying happens outside of a school property. If it becomes an issue in a school setting, then the school has to deal with it.”
Guerrero says it is now state-mandated that all schools have to have some type of unit on bullying. Before the homecoming football game, McLeod and Woodward explained the ramifications of bullying to Guerrero’s health classes, which completed a two-week unit on all aspects of bullying.
McLeod and Woodward presented information to approximately 160 students, or half the sophomore class, with the other half to receive the same unit next semester.
“Throughout the class, we did a lot of class participation, getting their feedback and trying to generate some discussion,” McLeod said. “That part went really well.
“It’s always good, especially when talking about bullying, to get the students’ take on it. We were asking questions, like, at Clay High School specifically, how do you feel this issue is handled as compared to other schools? “Their main concern, however, is how bullying is handled, not specifically at Clay, but nationwide. They’re concerned about the whole tattletale aspect of it. They do not want to be viewed as a snitch. A lot of times that will prevent victims from coming forward, because they know once they come forward, then it’s going to be brought out that they are the ones who told,” McLeod continued.
Guerrero added, “We did role playing, we showed them all the facts about bullying, and some of the more publicized incidents. I thought the students were really interested, and with the role playing I thought the students did really well with that and seemed to understand what it’s like to be bullied. We have several related incidents where students have been bullied during their student careers. It is especially important in high school, because, you know, they have a lot of drama going on during their high school years.”
Woodward focused on substance abuse, but she said the two subjects are intertwined.
“We are a prevention coalition and our main focus is substance abuse, although school bullying is part of what we’ll deal with because the topic of prevention is a very wide umbrella. There are a lot of connections between school violence and substance abuse — there are ties and trends that we see,” Woodward said.
“A lot of times it is all inter-related because of teenage depression. School bullying leads to higher rates and higher incidents of substance abuse and things like that, and incidents that are happening due to alcohol and drug violence where you’ve got students in school who may be under the influence, or maybe it’s related because of it, and the violence happens that way as well.”
About once a year a discussion led by Oregon police detective Janet Zale,is held at Oregon schools inviting parents and students to talk about cyber-bullying, which today is the more prevalent form.
“It is a big issue (Officer McLeod) has to deal with because of a lot of it is that virtual issue that ‘we’ll just spread lies and rumors online about you and not have to deal with you face to face,’ so it’s not that face to face confrontation that exists, but it causes so many issues when you get to the school setting where you’ve got students spreading rumors about each other and all sorts of things, and it’s a mess,” Woodward said.