Opinion: With welfare of kids at stake, don’t ignore bullying

As opening of school approaches, parents should heed the warning that students are being bullied by other students physically, verbally and on social media.
Despite school policies on bullying, some students, particularly Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders,(GLBT) are being bullied.
Worsening the problem is cyber bullying, done by students anonymously over social media and outside school hours.
Parents need to get involved and tell their students bullying is wrong and warn they will not back their students who are bullies.
According to Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom, who lectures on the dangers of bullying, 80 percent of parents in society don’t see bullying as a concern.
Backstrom says that bullying is an early form of aggressive, violent behavior and points out that 60 percent of bullies have a criminal record by the time they are 20 years old.
Parents also need to be concerned because their children could be the ones bullied. Backstrom says that 75 percent of kids at one point in their lives have been bullied.
He also tells parents that as many as 160,000 children miss school every day in America for fear of being bullied.
Parents generally regard bullying as something natural preferring to let it be a boys-will-be-boys and girls-will-be-girls matter. Some parents even suggest that if their child is picked on they should strike back.
Backstrom says this is bad advice and only irritates the bully.
Parents also are advised not to take lightly their child’s complaint about getting bullied in school. They immediately should listen to their child who has been bullied, assure their support and contact school authorities and alert them to the problem.
Delaying and brushing off the complaint will only cause the victim to withdraw, which could lead to other problems, including suicide.
Parents first should notify the classroom teacher and expect results. Failing to get cooperation, Backstrom says, parents should take the matter all the way up to the school superintendent and the school board, if necessary.
School officials are telling staff that bullying and harassment of students will not be tolerated. Guided by official school policies, the bullies eventually could be expelled from school.
Backstrom says he has found that school officials want to stop any bullying and protect the safety of all children.
Regarding cyberspace bullying on social media, parents of a bullied student should go to the parents of anyone bullying on line. Furthermore, Backstrom said if their children are harassed and threatened they should report it to the police, because harassment, stalking and terroristic threats are against state law.
Parents must take the bullying of their child seriously and act on the matter immediately, because their child’s welfare is at stake.  — Don Heinzman, ECM Publishers