Every child has the right to an education and every child has the right to be safe. As adults working in the public education system, it is our duty to provide a safe school environment for all students. In order for schools to be a healthy and safe environment they must be free from violence and be nurturing, caring and respectful of everyone. They must be physically and psychologically healthy, promote sensible risk taking and enhance the self-esteem of all. Bullying has no place in a safe school. By taking action against bullying, we can make a significant difference in the lives of all students, and have a profoundly positive impact on the climate of our schools.
Bullying is defined as hitting, name-calling, exclusion, or other behavior that is meant to hurt another person. Like child abuse, rape, sexual harassment, and racism bullying takes place because of an imbalance of power.
It is carried out by someone who has more power against someone who has less power. "Being bullied is not just an unpleasant rite of passage through childhood," said Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the NICHD. "It's a public health problem that merits attention." (National Institute of Health, April 24, 2001)
Bullying is not a new phenomenon but what is new is the growing awareness that bullying has serious consequences for both students and schools. Bullying is a unique form of aggression because it causes long-term damage to all involved, source, target and bystander.
Students who are the targets of repeated bullying behavior can, and often do, experience extreme fear and stress. They're afraid of going to school, afraid of using the bathroom or riding the bus. They may experience physical symptoms of illness and a diminished ability to learn.
Bullying also damages the perpetrator. If...