Many schools and communities across the country have been posting and printing the phrase "#BeKind" on various media. Schools have also otherwise been communicating this message both to their students and to the broader public.
According to statistics compiled as part of a government awareness campaign, middle school is the place where most students experience bullying. In high school, bullying seems to trail off somewhat; of course, by that time, it may be too late for a victim of bullying to make a full recovery.
Studies on the effects of bullying have already shown that getting picked on affects a child's mental health. During childhood, a bullying victim is likely to deal with depression and poor self-image, even to the point of being prone to suicide.
There is no one-size-fits-all description of a typical bullying victim, despite the fact that the entertainment media often portrays a victim as small and thin or, in the case of a girl, a person with a less than perfect figure or with some odd social quirks. The reality is, and it bears repeating often, that anyone can be the victim of bullying just as anyone can be a bully.
Thankfully, gone are the days in which bullying at school was just seen as a fact of life that kids just had to live with. While many people did in fact work through and overcome bullying issues, that does not make the practice right or acceptable.
For generations, Alabamans have known that schools and even offices and other workplaces can be cruel environments. Often, one person or a small group uses what power and influence they have to belittle or degrade others whom they see as weaker.
October is Anti-Bullying Awareness month, and many states have taken action by passing laws addressing this important issue. Alabama is one of these states that passed a law last spring in which school districts were to comply with certain anti-bullying guidelines. However, the school districts still haven't received the instructions about how they are to do so.
Bullying is a serious issue in schools in Alabama and nationwide. However, it may surprise you to hear that no federal law directly prohibits the act of bullying. However, sometimes bullying also falls under the umbrella of unlawful discriminatory harassment against someone in a protected class. These protected classes include a student's religion, age, sex, race, color, disability and national origin. The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education are responsible for enforcing cases of bullying that also constitute illegal discriminatory harassment.
There are many concerns parents here in Alabama may have at the start of a new school year. This includes concerns about the possibility of their child facing bullying. Unfortunately, bullying is something a fair number of U.S. students end up experiencing. National data points to 28 percent of students in grades 6 to 12 being bullied.