‘It Was Just Pretty Much Assault Every Day’: Alleged School Bullying Victim, Mom Speak Out On Georgia’s New Bullying Law. Back to school season is in full swing and like so many other families around the country 13-year-old Alicyn and her mother Annise Mabry are busy keeping up with the demands of the school year. http://jjie.org/alleged-school-bullying-victim-mom-speak-out-on-georgias-bullying-law/40307/2
However, instead of preparing to go to a local school, Ali takes classes at home. Instead of a classroom, she logs onto her laptop for online lessons. Instead of a teacher, her mom is her instructor.
We moved to Clayton County, GA in 1974. I was 14 years old. I had lived in nine different cities from California to New York, and back to our southern roots when my father was transferred to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. My childhood took me many places. I met a lot of kids of all physical, emotional, spiritual, and social shapes and sizes. Benjamin Disraeli once said that “Travel teaches toleration.” In hindsight I must agree with the former British Prime Minister. My travels have introduced me to different religious beliefs, political and social thoughts, and people of all colors and cultural backgrounds. My childhood friends were white, black, red, yellow, and brown. They were Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Christian of all denominations, atheist, and agnostic. They came from families of varying political persuasions from conservative to liberal, from Republican to Democrat to Independent, and with economic tastes from capitalism to socialism in varying degrees.
My many childhood friends from coast to coast in a thirteen year time span expanded my understanding of diversity and taught me to be tolerant of those with different cultures and beliefs. However, toleration, I have learned, is a double edge sword. In the words of Edmund Burke, “Toleration is good for all, or it is good for none.” The determinative question when the tolerant sword is cutting is “Which side of the sword is doing the cutting?” Is it the cutting edge that promotes the acceptance of people regardless of their differing beliefs or the edge that promotes the acquiescence of conduct hurtful toward others? The former is good for al l, the latter is good for none. This concept of toleration raises an interesting paradox when applied to the arrest of kids on school campuses. I think we can all agree that there should be no toleration of student disruption of any kind. I helped to raise three children. They are now adults and doing quite well. All my kids attended public schools.
A new survey to gauge what parents and students think about public school discipline is being fielded right now by the Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. The non profit group is analyzing student discipline issues across the state. They’re looking at student discipline data and interviewing a wide range of people connected with schools and courts, including principles, teachers, school probation officers, attorneys and juvenile court judges. Twelve school districts representing a range of geography and economics are currently participating and have been promised anonymity. JUSTGeorgia and the Barton Center are helping get the word out to families. “We want a broad based and diverse group of parents and students to respond. We’ve asked a number of stakeholder groups around the state to forward surveys to their mailing list so we can get as many views as possible,“ said Rob Rhodes, Director of Legal Affairs at Georgia Appleseed.
Picture this: Students lay out their school initials in bricks on the outfield of a rival team’s baseball field so the grass underneath dies, leaving a long-term imprint. If the culprits are caught, their punishment could range from a wink and a reprimand to a criminal charge of vandalism. The difference depends on where in Georgia the prank occurs. Some schools and districts punish much more frequently and more severely than others, according to “Effective Student Discipline: Keeping Kids in Class,” a report released in June by the non-profit Georgia Appleseed Center for Law & Justice. Some districts, for example, impose out-of-school-suspension at a rate 10 to 20 times higher than others. “Perhaps the overarching theme of Georgia’s student discipline law is the strong reliance on local control in the development of overall discipline policies,” says the report, subtitled, “An Assessment of Georgia’s Public School Disciplinary Policies, Practices and Outcomes.” The June release is Phase One of a project expected to be completed in late 2010 in association with JustGeorgia, a statewide juvenile justice coalition formed in 2006.