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Don’t cry bully when there’s no victim

Tyler smith , Opinion Editor
November 14, 2013
Filed under Opinion

The widespread, reprehensible act of bullying has been addressed both in and out of the classroom. But even with the noblest of intentions, there are always those who take the call too far.

First off, we may be jumping the gun when we cry bully. One high school football game in Texas had a staggering score of 91-0, a slaughter that led a parent of the losing team to file a complaint, according to Associated Press writer Paul Weber.

Texas lacks a mercy rule which would have led to the termination of the game in question when it was clear who the winner would be, Weber said. Furthermore, Texas’s state law requires all bullying complaints to be investigated, he said.

It’s admirable, if not necessary, that all complaints should be looked into. However, this case clearly shows what an unintentional side effect could be. How much time and manpower is going to be wasted every time a parent calls in a misinterpreted harassment charge?

The parent laid blame on the coaches for not stopping the game, but coach Tim Buchanan claimed to have tried to put an early end to it and that his team neither felt good about their win, nor understood how they were being implicated in bullying, Weber said.

This isn’t bullying. Was it a bit excessive? Probably, but that’s the sport and without that mercy kill in place, the coach can’t really be blamed. Her claim was a complete waste of time.

If people want a case of football bullying, they should look no further than Richie Incognito of the Miami Dolphins.

Incognito has been accused of harassing fellow teammates in what could arguably be called bullying tactics with unnecessary roughness during training sessions, USA Today Sports writer Brent Schrotenboer said. Things have since escalated for this NFL player after he allegedly bullied younger teammate Jonathan Martin, leading the Dolphins to suspend Incognito, according to Schrotenboer.

“This time, the NFL is investigating voice and text messages sent by Incognito to Martin. Some reportedly contain a racial slur and vulgar threats,” Schrotenboer said.

Racial slurs are a good indication of deliberate harassment between team players, not beating the other team to a pulp, no matter how embarrassing it may be. Kids should never be the victim, but they know what they sign up for when it comes to a contact, competitive sport.

Parents need to learn to respect certain boundaries and know not only what constitutes bullying, but also how to react to it. Boarding a bus and screaming at children is usually frowned upon in today’s society as well.

Chris and Christina Gring of Montgomery County have been charged with allegedly threatening students after Christina Gring boarded a bus to confront the bullying of their son, according to NBC 10 Philadelphia staff.

She painted a different story, stating the bus driver told her to talk to student safety monitors on the bus and her 8-year-old son had been bullied since school began.

“The North Penn School District is conducting an internal investigation about how its driver handled the situation. The district says it has not received any prior bullying complaints from the family,” NBC 10 Philadelphia said.

Regardless of the outcome, this is where we’re headed. No parent wants to see their child cry or be bullied, and when this occurs, emotions are going to run high.

Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be in their right head and some parents just want action taken immediately to end the suffering they witness. Threatening the accused kid isn’t going to help.

Aside from mixed feelings and interpretations, the data isn’t necessarily matching up either, according to an article written by Des Moines Register writers Jason Noble and Jeffrey Kummer.

“Iowa’s roughly 350 school districts reported 5,224 alleged bullying or harassment incidents during the 2012-13 school year,” Noble and Kummer said. “Slightly less than half of those incidents — 48.87 percent — were substantiated as violations of the state’s anti-bullying law. Others, while not meeting the criteria defined by state bullying laws, violated district policies.”

This discrepancy in figures ultimately leads to questioning what we define as bullying. Obviously racial slurs and verbal harassments, as well as physical violence, are qualifying candidates. So in the fight to end bullying, why isn’t there one sole, accepted definition?

According to Stateline writer Maggie Clark, the Federal government defines bullying as aggressive, unwanted behavior involving a power imbalance amongst school children. Alaska, Florida and Massachusetts are other examples that define bullying in terms of students whereas Virginia merely cites any person as the victim, according to Clark.

This should be of interest since NFL player Incognito is being cited for bullying and he is clearly not a school child.

According to News Oklahoma writer Randy Ellis, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has even been accused of the same crime for allegedly threatening educators with reductions in funding if they continued to publicly criticize a grading system.

Data discrepancies, parents either crying bully when there is none or threatening children, and issues over determining whether an adult can be considered a bully are going to lead to headaches at some point.

Strict laws on the issue aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but obviously abuse of the system and false accusations are going to waste everyone’s time and money.

There isn’t even an agreed upon system.

“On the punishment side, five states don’t have any sanctions for bullying in their anti-bullying laws, while 12 states include a criminal sanction for bullies, ranging from school suspension to jail time, according to an analysis of state bullying laws from the Cyberbullying Research Center,” Clark said.

According to stopbullying.gov, Wisconsin doesn’t list any specific group in its anti-bullying laws.

Politicians, schools, celebrities and parents are all on board to end this issue, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is on the same page. Clearly some groundwork needs to be laid.

First, define the enemy. Next, set parameters and determine how any issues, case by case, will be absolved. And finally, set up some type of escape clause so if anyone tries to say the opposing, high school football coach is a jerk for a landslide victory, or some other incompetent over-the-top claim, the phone can be dropped on the hook.