Bullying has become such a problem in schools that it has become the social issue du jour, with celebrities such as musician Lada Gaga, professional football player DeSean Jackson and President Barack Obama each having taken up the issue. The bullying does not have to emanate from public schools, but it overwhelmingly seems to. The bullying may be a result of more obvious factors such as race, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation, or less obvious factors such as social skills or a variety of other issues.
The spate of bullying cases that has come to light in just this very short academic year should be enough to scare any parent into considering alternative education opportunities for their children. And while bullying in schools has probably been a problem since traditional schools first came into existence, the frequency and intensity of bullying is greater than ever as bullies are able to harass their victims from afar through cell phones, email and facebook. The bullying stories run the gamut from sad to pathetic to horrifying. In New York a dad talks about how frustrated he is with the bullies who are antagonizing his ten-year-old girl. In Pennsylvania, a boy was physically assaulted, had his head dunked in a toilette and was forced to drink urine. In Tennessee, a boy was abused for six straight years because he was biracial. He’s had two bladder surgeries because of beatings, he’s been stabbed, had a rib broken, and had two surgeries for broken noses. When he told his teachers he was being bullied, he was punished for breaking their “no tattletale policy”! Tragically, it gets worse than broken ribs and broken noses. In New York, a 14-year-old boy committed suicide after being bullied about his sexual orientation. In Illinois, Ashlynn Conner, a 10-year-old girl committed suicide, hanging herself by a scarf, after being taunted by other children who called her fat, ugly and a “slut”.
Far too many parents expect teachers to protect their children from bullying. Sadly, the bullying does not always end with classmates, and sometimes the bullying comes from the teachers and administrators who are supposed to be protecting the children. In New Jersey, a teacher bullied a special needs child in front of his classmates, at one point saying “I will kick your ass from here to kingdom come until I’m 80-years-old”. In Ohio, two teachers bullied another special needs student, calling her “lazy” and “dumb”, and saying “no wonder nobody likes you”.
Parents whose children are dealing with bullying simply cannot afford to hope that the schools will protect their children. The mother of the Tennessee child asked, “[h]ow would you feel if you had to send your child to school every day, every day, and you know you know when you send him there’s going to be an injury. There’s going to be something that happens to your child at school every day?” She said that her only option in protecting her child was a lawsuit. She is wrong. An option that would have long ago protected her child from the violent physical assaults he has suffered is homeschooling. Lots of parents decide to homeschool their children in order to protect them. According to the Texas Association of School Boards, safety is the main reason parents choose to homeschool their children. Ashlynn Conner begged her mother to allow her to be homeschooled, but her mother refused. The next day Ashlynn committed suicide. The mother can’t be blamed for the decision her daughter made, nor for the actions of the bullies, but she very well may have been able to save her daughter’s life if she would have pulled her out of school.