Your October 5 article “Stopping bullies a priority for public school district,” reveals how prevalent violence and harassment are in our schools and why all Americans must take this issue seriously. The piece points to an extremely painful story that grabbed national headlines when bullying led to the suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, an openly gay 14 year old boy from Buffalo, NY.
Violence and discrimination against any student for any reason is wrong. We must counter it through thoughtful dialogue in our communities, our homes and schools. All of us are responsible for creating an environment that encourages learning and instills values such as fairness, open-mindedness and respect for others. How would you feel if your child was punched on the playground or teased in the classroom?
Incidents of harassment can have a deep impact on students’ self-esteem and academic performance. Without proper protections and thoughtful dialogue, these children could grow to resent school, may drop out early or act out against others. Our community should focus on making our schools safe places for learning and emotional growth.
Violence in schools based on orientation, gender identity or any other reason does not promote an acceptable learning environment for our kids. There is not only an individual responsibility, but a community effort that should support the well-being of all children. Students in Maryville and around the country should not be afraid to go to school for fear of harassment or violence.