Response to recent conversation

Commenters on the AJC Get Schooled blog had a range of reactions to the state’s plan to rate school climate based on several factors, including anti-bullying efforts. Is the barrage of anti-bullying messages and warnings becoming background noise that students just ignore? Here’s a sampling of responses under each poster’s chosen screen name:

Teach: Anti-bullying programs need to be targeting specific problematic behaviors, not some overarching idea about not being empathetic. It is important to realize that kids who are actually bullying someone usually do not recognize themselves as bullies. They usually think they are justified, even when they aren't. The problem isn't convincing a kid that bullying is wrong; it is convincing them that what they are doing is bullying.

Astro: After many years as a bail bondsman, I can tell you firsthand that if the problem is not addressed in children's formative years, society will pay a disproportionate price when they reach adulthood, and the perpetrator will replicate the problem in their children.

MotherofTwins: I agree that the word "bully" is thrown around excessively. Schools that focus attention on mutual respect tend to have better social climates. Also, schools with a multitude of clubs provide opportunities for kids to feel involved and welcomed. Some children and their parents are hypersensitive and see bullying where others see harmless pranks or cliques of friends. Everyone feels left out at some point or other. And everyone has hurt feelings. Children need to learn how to deal better.

BCW: As a school administrator, I can tell you that this bullying thing is getting blown way out of proportion. We all at some point have had to deal with teasing and name calling that is part of life. Political correctness is killing common sense and kids' ability to deal with school dynamics.

Batgirl: I wonder if this new state rating system is not just one more way to scare parents away from public schools and into private schools and charter schools where there never was and never, ever will be anything that even resembles bullying.

Mathmom: I don't see much bullying at my school, but all of my students know they can come to me if they need an advocate, and occasionally someone does. That said, here's what I see: Kids seem to be weaker than they used to be, physically and mentally. More than half of my students have medical alerts on their records; that used to be rare. If anything unpleasant happens, they fall apart. We see girls fighting because somebody said, "That's an ugly shirt."

Teachermom: We live in an age of P.C. hypersensitivity. Kids can't play tag, because someone may get hurt. Kids don't play outside because they might get kidnapped. The bullying issue is no different. Awareness is great, but seeing bullies around every corner is not. Kids cannot be bubble-wrapped, and if they don't learn how to handle rejection and disappointment in low-stakes situations, how are they going to handle big problems? By no means do I think bullying does not exist; I've seen it and had to intervene on behalf of the bullied. But it has become a term that gets thrown around to describe anything kids say or do that make someone's little snowflake sad.

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