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8 year old with CP considers suicide because of bullying

May 3, 2010

I HATE writing about these stories.  Today, I had an interesting juxtaposition of events that caused me to learn about this.

This morning we sent out another email blast asking educators to participate in our survey on bullying. As luck would have it, something occured with that email that caused me to Goolge “Baltimore” and “bullying.”

Out jumped dozens of references, as recently as last week. It seems Baltimore City Schools has a pretty serious bullying problem.  Just last week, an 8 year old, suffering from Cerebral Palsy was bullied in her elementary school to the point of trying to commit suicide. The Balitmore Sun has covered the story, so has CBS affiliate WBZ. CEO of BCPS was interviewed on the station this morning, and there are any number of stories chronicling this young child’s multi-year process of being bullied. She’s since been transferred to another school, but do you think that will make the problem go away?

No. Nor will the reaction of many schools. “We don’t have the money to do more,” tends to be a frequent response. And that’s crazy. First, Kevin Jennings, President Obama’s head of Safe and Drug-free schools has a $700M annual budget, much of that which goes to anti-bullying programs. If we’re not making a dent in bullying, perhaps, again, it’s not the money, but WHAT we are spending the money on.

I find it criminal that so many schools or administrators feel they can’t afford to do more, particularly when they know they have a serious problem. What difference does it make what we try to teach our kids if they don’t come to school because they are afraid?  Or, if they can’t focus on their lessons because they dread recess or passing periods?  Our kids’ — and frankly, teachers and staff — safety should be the primary mission, because without that, nothing else we do matters.

If money is so tight that our kids’ lives are at risk, we need to either cut things that are less vital, re-prioritize our spending, or use the money we already have on things that will work instead of continuing to propagate things that haven’t worked and won’t work now.

What do you think?  Are we doing enough, are we doing the right thing? I know what I believe, but I’d like to hear feedback from you all.

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