On Friday, April 17, public school students around the nation will be permitted to remain silent all day to protest the bullying and harassment experienced by LGBT students – but what about the obese students and other groups that experience high rates of bullying? Is giving one group all the attention undermining the quest to end bullying in the U.S.?
Karen Kramer, writing for the Christian Post, is reporting on a broad coalition of traditional family groups who are calling for an end to the politicization of America’s classrooms by allowing public schools to mark an annual event that was invented by the gay activist group known as GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network). During this day, anyone who supports GLSEN is permitted to remain silent.
“Our tax dollars are subsidizing a political movement and all students, whether they support GLSEN or not, will be impacted,” Kramer writes.
Not everyone, including hundreds of thousands of students, are comfortable with this approach to solving the bullying epidemic in America. Can such a massive problem really be solved through these narrowly focused bullying programs produced by political activist groups?
According to this article in USA Today, an estimated 13 million American children are teased, taunted and physically assaulted by their peers which makes bullying the most common form of violence among youth.
“Every day, about 160,000 of American children miss school because of fear of physical and psychological attacks on the basis of their skin color, ethnicity, physical or mental abilities, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion,” they report.
The time has come to get to the bottom of the bullying epidemic in American schools which means we need to get away from politics and look at some hard facts.
Yes, LGBT students are bullied, but they aren’t the only ones, nor is sexual preference considered to be the main reason why children are bullied.
According to researchers, the top reason why kids are bullied is because they “just don’t fit in” (Hoover and Oliver, 1996).
This article, appearing on Education.com says that physical differences seem to incite teasing.
“Among boys and girls bullied at least once a week, about 20 percent were victimized because of their looks or speech, according to a survey of 15,000 U.S. students (Nansel et al., 2001) . . .
“Other studies show that children with disabilities (Whitney, Smith, and Thompson, 1994) and children who are obese (Janssen, Craig, Boyce, and Pickett, 2004) face a higher risk of harassment. As Keith Sullivan, Mark Cleary, and Ginny Sullivan (2004) note in Bullying in Secondary Schools, 'Once a bullying culture is operating, those who are somehow different...are likely to be singled out, but the random and indiscriminate nature of bullying means that no one is immune'."
Ethnicity or culture can also cause bullying.
“In the large U.S. study (Nansel et al., 2001), about 8 percent of students who were bullied once a week or more reported being harassed because of their race or religion. But other studies have found much higher rates. In surveys in middle schools in New York and New Jersey, 40 to 45 percent of African American, Latino, and European American students and 60 to 65 percent of Asian American students reported that their peers had harassed or discriminated against them because of their race or ethnicity (Way and Hughes, 2007).”
While it is true that the majority of students who identify as LGBT report being bullied daily at school, the same is true for obese students, particularly those in high school where 58 percent of the boys and 63 percent of girls experience daily teasing, bullying or rejection because of their weight.
Perhaps the time has come to get away from single-issue bullying prevention programs and launch a wide-scale assault on this national problem with programs designed to address the unmet needs of children who feel compelled to bully – for whatever reason.
“Any fix to bullying, then, must attend to these basic needs that are not being met. That means we must focus on everything from the home environment to the policies of our government, from parenting to poverty,” USA Today concludes.
Bullying is not just a “gay” issue – it’s everyone’s issue, and the time has come to take it back.
Let’s launch a “Day of Silence” for all bullied teens, but instead of keeping quiet all day, let’s host programs that join students, teachers, administrators, and parents in a common effort to find a solution to this problem rather than allowing special interest groups to use it as a front to further a political agenda. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace® http://www.womenofgrace.com