Commentary: Why Does It Take a Call to the Media to Stop Bullying?

A mother receives a phone call to not return her child to school due to rumors of threats.

Posted: 06/14/2011 07:51 PM EDT
Filed Under bullying

Just when we thought bullying had eased, another video, captured by cellphone, has surfaced of an African-American teenager being beat.

 

The fight took place last Monday at Niagara-Wheatfield High School in New York. The teen is shown being shoved into the school lockers and punched until he falls on the ground. Both students involved were suspended for five days, but just one day before her beaten son was to return to school, Elanda Nalls-Solomon received a phone call from the school’s assistant principal.

 

"She told me, ‘Do you mind keeping your son home tomorrow?’ And I said, ‘For what?’ And she goes, ‘Well, he's not in trouble or anything like that, but there are rumors speculating that the Indian kids are going to do something bad to him tomorrow," she tells a local station. Nalls-Soloman said, "Absolutely not. I'm not going to keep my son home. It's your job to guarantee our kids' safety when they come to school."

 

So that makes us ask, is it appropriate for a school to ask parents to keep their child home for safety concerns caused by other teens? In the case of Nalls-Soloman, her son had been harassed on Facebook and warned that he would be harmed if he returned to school. But it doesn’t make sense that the parent has to worry if their child will be safe at school.

 

In fact, schools are being more reactive than proactive when putting an end to bullying. When I was younger, if a teacher knew of a potential fight, that was the end of it. There was no, “Oh, I think there is going to be a fight, let me call this parent and tell her not to bring her child to school.”

 

Unfortunately, in the case of Nalls-Soloman, it wasn’t until she called her local news station that she got some answers from the school. The superintendent told her that her son would be safe at school the next day. The mother’s concern: Why couldn’t her son’s safety have been guaranteed from the beginning?

 

And why wouldn’t extra measures be made when the son returned to make sure that nothing could happen to him?

 

Let’s hope under new legislation that requires schools to report any bullying they are aware of that they actually report the rumors to the proper authorities and not just to the parents of the affected kids.

(Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters)

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