This week, there was an article on the Associated Press and on NBC News reporting on bullying in schools. The zero-tolerance policy that schools are using is ineffective. In a report released this week, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said bullying should no longer be dismissed as merely a matter of kids being kids. Bullying is not a normal part of childhood. This behavior is seen as early as pre-school and peaks during the middle school years. The National Academies reports that bullying likely affects between 18 and 31 percent of young people. Children are suffering short and long term effects, both mental and physical – an increased number leading to death.
The researchers concluded that schools should end zero-tolerance policies that automatically suspend students for bullying. The articles state that there is no evidence that suspensions are impactful in a positive way. The can actually do more harm than good and in fact do not provide the skill training or replacement behaviors for youth that are suspended or expelled. Suspension may also lead to an underreporting of bullying because suspensions are perceived to be too punitive.
Many think that programs should be put in place to teach students how to get along with each other and given the statistics of the effects of bullying. It is agreed that teaching tolerance is the number one priority in putting a stop to this problem.