Who hasn’t been part of, or witness to, an ugly incident on the playground? You know the scene. Recess is going well, everyone is having great fun, then a disagreement ensues, over who knows what. Before you know it, there’s a torrent of threatening words, a flurry of shoves and finally a knee to the gut or a punch in the face. It can be a rough place, the playground.
Now that Georgia has one of the toughest anti-bullying laws in the nation, school administrators have new responsibilities:
Investigate incidents – not just in the school yard, but also online. Notify parents of both bullies and victims.
Develop anti-bullying policies for schools, including the elementary level. The tougher law comes in the wake of two deaths in Georgia. High School junior Tyler Long took his own life last October. His family has filed a wrongful death suit against the Murray County school district, claiming he was bullied at school for years and school officials failed to intervene. 11 year old Jaheem Herrara also killed himself last year in DeKalb County. Jaheem’s parents says his elementary school knew about repeated harassment and did nothing to stop it. Will new school intervention strategies be enough? Newsweek.com reports that no U.S. program has been shown to significantly reduce bullying. Finland and Norway are taking a different approach: Lessons on stereotyping and emotional IQ are part of the daily curriculum. And for one more take on the issue, Psychotherapist Carol Smaldino writes about Georgia’s new law in the HuffingtonPost.com.