We approve of a new state law requiring school districts to have bullying and prevention plans in place, although it’s disappointing if any Illinois school needed to be told to do that.
Fortunately, most local school districts do have a plan in place and have been taking bullying seriously for several years to foster a safe learning environment for all students.
It’s unrealistic to expect schools to be able to control every individual incident of bad behavior, but we can and should expect them to protect students and make sure there are consequences for students threatening, intimidating or physically injuring other students.
We were particularly pleased to see the attitude of a fine teacher at Prairie Ridge High School. Jamie Buck clearly has a passion for the issue and a sensible approach to dealing with bullying that she shares with her fortunate students.
“Anti-bullying programs are about telling bullies not to be bullies, so we took a different approach,” Buck said. “I wanted to help my students be sure of who they are and confident in who they are so if they hear those [bullying] comments it won’t affect them.”
Buck issues students challenges such as smiling in the hallways, avoiding social media, not cursing, telling three adults why they are appreciated, among others.
Even the most well-adjusted, confident students could face bullying, and we shouldn’t blame victims. But teaching kids how to build their confidence, character, attitude and wit will go a long way toward deflating the power of verbal taunts and emotional abuse.
These are valuable lessons that these teens will carry into adulthood, and we applaud teachers such as Buck and many others who see the importance of the other side of the bullying equation.