Bullying is social behavior that is not a new phenomenon in human society. It encompasses all behaviors, ranging from beating up an innocent person, rumors about a person or merely failing to invite a friend to a party (Jimmerson et al. 9). To some perpetrators in different setting, this has been like a rite of passage (Downey 1). However, with emerging societal dissatisfaction and the advent of human rights in a democratic society, there are increasing voices advocating for the eradication of this behavior that is deeply rooted in the human society. These voices have been championing initiatives and advocating for legislations that would dispel the mythical perceptions that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage and that it is an inevitable experience in human growth and development.
Consequences of Bullying
The physical dangers, associated with bullying, are reason enough for institution and execution of laws against it. Bullying among young children, especially in the absence of a mature non-bully adult, may be very fatal (Larch 1). There are instances, when the children have been bullied in schools, leading to serious health complications. Some of the complications may be even permanent. In such cases, the teachers are left with no alternative means of sanctioning the behavior, since corporal punishment is considered unethical. If there were effective laws for punishing such punitive acts, this culture could have been stamped out of the school systems and the risks, associated with it, eradicated. The less privileged students often become the victims of bullying activities. Larch cited that such students often keep quiet, since even if they reported their challenges relating to bullying, the teachers or their superiors would not take any serious interventions to protect them (1). In fact, student’s decision to report that he/she has been bullied would only earn him/her more merciless beatings from the bullies. The reason for this is the lack of clear legislation against bullying.
Legislation against bullying would not only ensure a peaceful learning environment for teachers and students but also would help in eradicating social evils such as violence from schools. One of the causes of violence in schools is the inability of the school administrators to deal with the problem of bullying in schools (McGrath 57). Bullying often translate to physical violence. This occurs, when the victims consider revenge or suicide as the only possible escape route. Most of the victims of bullying in schools are students who are generally physically or psychologically challenged. According to the Bill of Rights, entrenched in the American constitution, even such categories of individuals are entitled to rights of participation, opinions and involvement (Jimmerson et al. 163). However, bullying of whichever form in whichever setting often limit the ability of such section of the population to participate in important forums in the society. This further contributes to political and social disenfranchisement of students, especially in Ohio State.
The victims of bullying are exposed to the risk of developing depression and anxiety-related disorders (Larch 1). In some cases, these complications become very expensive and challenging to deal with, especially when a child is affected in his or her formative stages of growth and development. Although social values have been promoted in schools to try and address the challenges, associated with bullying, more formal and institutional structures are needed to ensure that the responses to the crises are embedded on the legal frameworks of the country. This is because without a parallel legal provision that advocates for punitive measures against bullies in whichever form, the bullies may rush to their defense, making reference to the section on the Bill of Rights, where freedom of expression and speech is provided for. McGrath cited that this freedom might be misused to harass others if not actually controlled through constitutional legislative frameworks (54).
School Systems and Bullying
The school systems are the bedrock of bullying activities. Statistics indicate that one out of four kids is a victim of bullying (Jimmerson et al. 35). Of these, 77% are cases of mental, verbal and physical bullying. Similar surveys indicate that one out of five kids is a bully in school. Approximately 8% of students always miss one day out of school per month because of fear of falling victim of bullying. In the boarding schools, 43% of children are in fear of being harassed in the bathrooms. Jimmerson et al. (35) noted that similar studies with parents indicate that 32% of parents fear the safety of their children in schools. Most of the cases of bullying involve more senior students taking advantage of their juniors and the less privileged, and insulting them or just showing them that they do not have a place and lack control over their environment, properties (Jimmerson, Swearer and Espelage 87). The less privileged students do not have the liberty to enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms as entrenched in the constitution under the Bill of Rights. Students lack the confidence to report cases of bullying to their parents and teachers for fear of being harassed even more in the absence of teachers. As a result, most students suffer silently. The consequences of these challenges are only manifested through anxieties, stress, depression and emotional cut-off, which translate to poor performance in schools (Jimmerson et al. 151).
Currently, the school systems in Ohio are lacking proper structures for dealing with cases of bullying. Instead of punishing the bullies, most teachers negotiate with them in a bid to make them know the dangers of such behaviors and to train them to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of other students (McGrath 56). However, this has never been effective since the bullies frequently repeat the acts. The teachers are also not legally empowered to execute punitive measures against this behavior. Because of this gap, most kids are suffering silently in schools, as their problems are compounded by existence of bullying in the learning environment. Thus, the bullies take advantage of the legal vacuums and through impunity continue to infringe the rights of others. The only available mechanism for the school systems to address the problem of bullying in schools is counseling and training in assertiveness (Coil 1). This aims at encouraging students to disclose and report cases of bullying to trusted persons. In case where victimization is more common, the school administrators in Ohio have established private reporting boxes to ease reporting without fear of being targeted for revenge.
Some schools respond to the problem of bullying through collaborative efforts with parents to try and sensitize kids against bullying. In some cases, the school systems have counseling sessions, awareness raising sessions and clubs that advocate against this menace (Coil 1). Sometimes, experts are invited by teachers to talk to the students about the importance of respecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of others, irrespective of their age, grade or conditions. However, much of these efforts are only aimed at containing the situation since there are no clear legal frameworks to effectively deal with bullying in schools, so as to totally stamp it out of the human society.
Instead of enforcing the laws that provide for the rights of individuals in all environments, the law enforcers, teachers have been limited in addressing the problem. This is particularly because of the lack of the legal provisions that directly relate to bullying in schools. It is the lack of the legal frameworks that has limited the intervention of the school administration in terms of taking stern measures against cases of bullying (Jimmerson et al. 265). The key concern is the frequent calls by the teachers to be guided through policy frameworks on how to address the problems, relating to bullying in schools. Most students go un-punished even after being plainly found to be involved in acts of bullying their colleagues. Even the cases that are reported to the law enforcers for action have not been prosecuted. This hurdle is caused by the existence of the Anti-Bullying Laws that lack corresponding Acts for effective implementation of the provisions (McGrath 54).
Gaps that Legislation against Bullying will fill. The culture of bullying has for a long time been trivialized and considered not only normal but also acceptable, when in real sense it is abnormal and unacceptable. The consequences of bullying on an individual are almost exclusively negative. Victims of bullying are denied their right of associations, freedom of expression and instead exposed to hurts, intimidation and isolation (Sentell 1). This often ends in the victim taking his or her own life, especially after a long period of unfruitful endurance. The development of legislation against bullying will, thus, serve to secure the life of children most of whom are currently very vulnerable to bullying and the resultant response behaviors.
The present anti-bullying law is anemic. It is anemic in the sense that it lacks a clear execution and implementation framework. This makes the enforcement of this law challenging, while children continue to suffer because of the vagueness of the constitutional provisions on the safety of every individual member of the American society under the Bill of Rights. Currently, the correctional institutions are not able to hold bullies, accountable for their acts, since some parishes have been exempted from the anti-bullying policy. However, these places are not safe either (Sentell 1). The need for legislation against bullying is long overdue. This is due to the existing variations in the policies and procedures that are meant to deal with bullying in schools and other social environments such as the internet.
The establishment of a law against bullying will provide a platform for the police and other law enforcement agencies to execute their mandate and duties in terms of arresting the perpetrators, since it will be clear that such behaviors are not only outlawed but also punishable by law (Weber 1). It is such punitive measures that will create safe society, where children are not abused and denied their constitutional rights through acts of impunity. Further, the establishment of a law against bullying would provide clear-cut structures for reporting of the cases of bullying from the school disciplinary committees, district child welfare desks and from the Association of Parents (Sentell 1). Currently, teachers, parents, administrators and even students are reluctant in reporting cases of bullying. This is because it has been tolerated, especially with the lack of better legal structures to address the issues relating to bullying. This is another gap that legislation of the Bullying Prevention Act will fill.
In conclusion, bullying remains a social issue that needs urgent attention if the safety of children and their constitutional rights, entrenched in the Bill of Rights, are to be safeguarded. Currently, most students are victims of abuse caused by bullying behaviors in the school. The school systems lack effective mechanisms to deal with the problem. The efforts of school administrators to address this issue have not borne any fruits apart from just containing the situation. This explains why the federal and the state governments must expedite the process of putting in place legal frameworks that will ensure that bullying is prevented.