Even as adults, few among us can turn every scar into a joke. Today, too many of our youth, scarred by relentless harassment and intimidation, suffer cruelty in silence or take extreme measures to avoid the abuse. At times, tragically, teens have taken their own lives or retaliated and taken the lives of others.
Two state lawmakers are seeking solutions to the age-old problem of schoolyard bullying, and will hold an interim study in the coming months to examine current Oklahoma statutes in the hopes of formulating policy to prevent and address the very real and ongoing issue of adolescent victimization.
State Representative Jeannie McDaniel and Representative Eric Proctor, both Democrats from Tulsa, are spearheading this effort.
"The increase in school safety issues across the country leads us to examine our role as legislators to develop public policy that help educators, families and our communities provide a safe environment conducive to learning," stated McDaniel. "I have spoken with educators and parents who are deeply concerned and frustrated with the increasing challenges of bullying and the serious consequences for victims, bullies and our schools."
McDaniel noted that school bullying is prevalent in rural communities and inner-city neighborhoods, as well as in affluent suburbs and small towns. Research studies have show that this type of adolescent victimization occurs frequently, particularly in middle school grades, and can result in serious consequences for both bully and victim. As early as 2002, the U.S. Secret Service issued a report that concluded that bullying played a significant role in many school shootings and that efforts should be made to eliminate bullying behavior.
"We must find a way to protect victims of peer abuse as well as challenge childhood aggressive behavior from the onset. With an eye towards the increasing violence among youth we must consider bullying behavior and address this growing issue," McDaniel said. "I am pleased that Speaker Benge has approved a request for an interim study on school bullying and look forward to a work session that will consider combining policy with prevention."
The interim study, IS 10-048, is assigned to the Judiciary committee.