Students: Teachers Turn Blind Eye To Bullying

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You’ve heard about it a lot lately both locally and around the country bullying, and some of the horrifying effects it has on young people. WOSU takes a look at what some students have to say about bullying and the harassment policies in place at their school.

Most schools have one some kind of policy barring harassment, intimidation and bullying. Much of the language is the same and goes something like this.

“Any act written or verbal, gestures, photographs, drawings or any other communication used to intimidate, harass or threaten harm to another person “

“Bullying also means electronically transmitted acts internet, email, cellular telephone ”

Whatever the language, students know about bullying. They’ve either been bullied, seen it, or done it themselves.

A group of Dublin Coffman High School students walks home on a nice fall afternoon. They’re all freshman, and right at the age where bullying is common.

“It happens, and really, it’s not really something you can’t really avoid. There’s always going to be people who don’t like you. So, it’s, you just have to get used to it I guess,” Ben Hevel said.

He walks along with Kristen Early, Kylie George, Samual Glass and a few others. Kristen recalls a bullying seminar the school had a couple of weeks ago.

“They just said like bullying happens everywhere online, in school, and we just need to as the bystanders we need to take a stand and help the victim. Have you ever stood up for anyone or said anything? That’s a really hard thing to do, you know? I think I have once, but it was for that guy right there. I have for you I think. I have for you, too. You don’t see people standing up for strangers. It’s mostly just the group of friends.” Kristen said students did not take the bullying assembly seriously, and she also questions whether her teachers did, too.

“Guys tease each other a lot about being gay and stuff like that. Do they use that word gay? No. They use a worse word? Yes. Do you think teachers hear this? Or does this go on when they’re not around? I think teachers hear it sometimes and they don’t do anything. Why do you think they don’t do anything? I think they don’t want to deal with it,” Kristen said.

Kristen was not the only Dublin Coffman student to say teachers turn a blind eye to harassment.

“I can tell you, administratively, bullying is on a number of our agendas to talk about and how we address it,” Dublin Superintendent David Axner said.

Axner said the district has strived to make reporting easier for students.

“We’ve tried to implement some programs where students would feel open to help each other or report a situation,” he said.

Dublin City Schools’ bullying policy is pretty standard. Students cannot be harassed based on their race, religion, sex or handicap – among others things. They’re not permitted to bully via cell phones or the internet. And unlike many other districts, Dublin students can anonymously report bullying online which immediately alerts the school and central office. About 30 incidents were reported online last year.

Dublin may be ahead of the curve on its reporting methods, but its policy does NOT include “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” language. Axner regarded the district’s policy as being on the liberal side. And he referred back to Kristen’s story about students taunting others about being gay.

“Just because something isn’t in a policy, you’ve just given a perfect example of a situation that we would not allow in our school district, and our administrators, I don’t need to have a meeting to tell them if this happens here what you do. I guarantee you that anyone that came across that would deal with it and make sure that would stop,” he said.

A quick look at some other policies around the area…Columbus City Schools’ policy includes “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” language, but does NOT specifically mention cyber-bullying.

Hilliard City Schools leaves its harassment policy out of sixth grade, elementary and middle school handbooks. A district spokesperson said bullying is covered in other language in the handbook. Hilliard does not include sexual orientation in its policy.

Westerville includes both “sexual orientation” and “electronic” bullying in its policy.