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Letter to the Editor: Zero Tolerance Policies Will Deal a Blow to Bullying

A local parent echoes the concerns of her children and asks school administrators to take a tougher stance on bullying.

Editor's Note: Given the controversy involved in this issue, the writer of this letter has asked to remain anonymous.

I am a new parent in the Cuyahoga Falls City Schools. My children and I moved here last year.

Everyday, my son (a very outgoing, popular boy in his last school) takes a deep breath before entering the , and everyday when I pick him up, he takes a deep breath of relief that nothing has happened to him. He tells me everyday going from one class to another he does NOT feel safe. He sees kids picked on, called names and sometimes hit or thrown around. This is something he has never experienced before. He lives in fear and wonders when it's going to be his turn. His so-called friends talk in a cruel fashion to one another and say horrible things to one another "your gay," "Hey douche bag" and so on. This is NOT how I and my previous school district raised my son to talk to a friend. He says that he and others have reported Bullying and there is no consequences.

Everyday my middle school child at reports to me that he sees bullying on girls and boys, he keeps his head down and raises concerns to staff, but the adults who are supposed to be there to help them do NOT do anything. He too is fearful of when it's going to be his turn. He has been called names in light of his ethnic background. Is this acceptable?

My daughter is a student at. She has seen her friend, who is black, get picked on and called names because her hair is different than everyone else's. Really?

And, I am fully aware that threats of violanece have been reported at each school during the 2011-2012 school year. Here's a few instances:

In October at Richardson, a boy in 5th grade brought a knife to school, was suspended and then came back and threatened to shoot up the school on Halloween. We the parents were NOT informed until November, I found this out through talking to students and parents.

A week before the shooting at Chardon, a to frighten his Bullies. Again, parents were not aware of this until two weeks after the fact because of a protest the kids started at Bolich. Couldn't be prouder of those kids for making their voices be heard.

The day after Chardon, a high school Freshman threatened to commit the same sort of acts at CFHS, I hear this from my son. Not the school or District?

This is NOT acceptable. So what do we do?

Am I just writing to complain? No!

The repeated thing I am hearing is the adults, the teachers, the administrators are doing NOTHING.

Last Wednesday, school administrators put on a community forum for the kids, that's great, and it was very heartfelt. However, did the Superintendent, Todd Nichols, the 20 teachers (out of how many) and Administrators HEAR the secret? That is the question.

I suggest to school officials and administrators....

Educate yourselves, call other districts in other states where bullying has been hit hard. In Arizona, the Dysart School district has created a "No tolerance Policy" and it works! This policy consists of not only sending a message that students should treat and speak to one another with respect and patience, but it also sends a message to all parents that the District is there for all parties involved.

In Dysart, the adminstration in 2003 took a head on approach to stop this bad behavior and it works.

With the "No Tolerance Policy" the rules are strict:

First offense -- There is a conference between the bully and an administrator.

Second offense -- Another conference with bully, his/her parents and an administrator.

Third offense -- There is some sort of punishment, ie. in-school suspension.

Fourth offense -- Out-of-school suspension.

Fifth offense -- Student is removed from the District.

Could legal action be incorporated into the punishment?

In many Districts, if a student misses more than 15 days of school, the parents are dragged into court. Why don't we have a policy like this for Bullying? Maybe after several offenses the parents and student have to face a judge who could possibly order a family to counseling.

I truly believe the majority of students at our schools understand how to handle bullying and how to stop it, but the repeated theme I keep hearing is "There is no consequences" "Teachers don't do anything" "Principals don't do anything".

I Hope they now hear these criticisms. This is the SECRET.

I have spoken with many parents and many children at the three different schools. We parents are doing all we can, the majority of the kids are speaking out (the Bolich protest) but we seriously need Teachers and Administration to step up to the plate and assist us. Let's make the schools a safe place for learning.

Paul April 02, 2012 at 11:50 AM
I graduated from Falls High in 81.My son also went through the school district in the 90's and the last decade.There was bullying,name calling etc.,more so for me in elementary and a little in Junior high,but i dont recall sexual attacks being threatened or burning down a familes home for silence about the bullying.It is obvious the school board needs to take this more serious,teachers,superintendent etc..maybe a zero tolerence policy with more severe punishment for multiple offenses is the answer,it sounds like something different from the way it has been handled is obviously needed!
Danielle Deyoung April 02, 2012 at 02:32 PM
I have a daughter who goes to Richardson (5th grade) who is teased because she has lazy eye in both eyes, a daughter at Bolich (7th) and a son at Bolich (8th). My daughter at Bolich was bullied so bad we pulled both her and my son from school for 8 days. We called the media asking for help. My daughter was on the channel 3 news and in the Patch. Things are starting to get better for her but she tells me it is not for other children. There is a school board meeting on April 9th and a parent meeting on Wednesday. I will be attending both. The parent meeting is at Bolich and is about the bullying. My husband and I have started a Facebook page to help. Friend us at Concerned parents of Cuyahoga Falls Harvey Bolich Middle School parents.
Earl Elevant April 03, 2012 at 08:41 AM
I don't see it explained how this zero tolerance system would work. Bullying Happens ????? Bullying is Fixed What happens in the middle is a pretty significant thing to leave out. Would one complaint of bullying be considered a first offense? Would a second complaint of bullying take it to a second offense? If you're taking zero tolerance to mean exactly that, one complaint should be all you need. If you give a bully some latitude and you don't believe the kid making the complaint, then you get right back where the problem is now--you're not listening to the kid being bullied and you're not doing anything about it. On the other hand, if you have a strict zero tolerance policy with one complaint setting the policy into motion, how long would it take the bullies to figure out that all they have to do to bully someone is to make a complaint against the kid they want to bully--credible complaint or not--because then *that* kid will be on the road to being expelled. How would this zero tolerance idea work?
Mike Penta April 03, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Zero tolerance means just that - zero tolerance. It worked really well in the 90s when we took a zero tolerance stand against drugs and weapons and started suspending kids for innocuous conduct such as bringing aspirin and acne medicine to school or G.I. Joe figures with a plastic gun for show and tell. Zero tolerance means if your child rolls his eyes at another student that will count as abusive behavior and subject to disciplinary measures. The obvious lesson back then and now is that there is no substitute for common sense, discretion, and judgment. If the school district were to turn to ridiculously rigid discipline policies then all we are doing is replacing thoughtless inaction with thoughtless action. The best solution is to understand the very complex social structures that allow bullying to happen and decide if we are willing to confront some ugly truths about our community. For instance, right now we are claiming discriminating is wrong... and then there's the Natatorium sending a completely different message.
Becky Lee (Rebecca Michelle Lee) April 03, 2012 at 01:11 PM
I was bullied in Middle school. Thank goodness it was before "Zero tolerance". Zero Tolerance policies also punishes the victim. Get it... 0. That means if a victim fights back they will also be suspended, etc.
michelle April 04, 2012 at 11:00 AM
i will be at a meeting today at 6pm and i will bring that up! get back to you about becky!

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