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A new day — another bullying death?

May 14, 2010

I just shouldn’t look.  As part of my “job,” I have to stay up on what’s going on in the world related to my area of expertise. Since I do frequent media interviews, one habit I’ve gotten into is checking Google Trends and CNN for stories related to bullying, social skills, education and such.  It’s my “homework,” but I’m getting disheartened by what I see.

This morning, reports on Fox News and other sources of another teen suicide, bullying is apparently involved.  A 15 year old girl jumped to her death in Alabama. Preliminary reports indicate she was bullied in school, so this may be at least a factor in her death. The teen was also struggling with her sister’s untimely death a few years ago, so certainly that needs to be considered. But it does appear that she was being harrassed at school and had reported it to at least the assistant principal.

What’s so sad about all this is that this kind of news is becoming a daily occurrence.  I did an interview with Bob Gourley of Issues and Answers this week about bullying, and since it was taped, I asked when it would air.  He wasn’t sure, but figured some time in June.  I answered, “well, the bad news is we’ll still ikely have these issues to deal with at that time, too.”

It’s not that bullying among kids is somehow “new.” It’s been going on through time immemorial. But the severity, frequency and degree of damage inflicted is certainly getting worse.  Mass shootings in schools, youth suicides, even televised on the Internet — these are all very bad signs.  Yet it’s ironic that we seem to keep looking at the same solutions: more/better legislation, better reporting procedures, “zero tolerance.” None of those have shown to work.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get lucky and I’ll get a call from an enlightened school administrator that says, “We realize what we’re doing isn’t working and we’re interested in something that will.” It could happen — I’ve heard it before.

Until then, it’s back to Google trends, looking for more data points that prove our “fixes” ain’t fixing.

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