TC Equality
  | An Investigative Report

 

Bully Incident Reporting
by Bradley Evans | Opinion

Young Jerry Marek showed tremendous courage to stand up and talk about the bullying he’s endured. I congratulate the Record-Eagle on reporting on this important issue.

According to data Traverse City Area Public Schools submitted to the state, there were 202 instances of bullying per 9,980 students in 2009-2010. That’s 2 percent annually. Port Huron, a school district with a pervasive bullying problem, reports 2.6 percent.

The 2 percent rate assumes complete reporting, which is not the case. I didn’t find out about all the bullying my son went through at West Junior and Senior High until after he was graduated. Concerning what for me was a dismaying realization, Jerry’s dad more kindly comments, “It’s easy to turn a blind eye.” Students, teachers, and principals witness bullying or its aftermath, and don’t report.

What’s the problem? People aren’t familiar with bullying and don’t know how to report. It’s district policy that someone fills out a Harassment Report Form (http://bit.ly/ dV8huq, page 6). I don’t think students, teachers, and principals know about the policy, where to get the form or where to turn it in. Whoever explained the policy to your paper didn’t mention the form. I suspect the policy is for show.

If one looks at the complete process that a parent with a bullied child would like, it is this: People understand what bullying is and is not; people know how to report; reporting is stupidly simple; the bullying behavior is identified and understood; and bullying is stopped.

The problem with the proposed district policy is that, by mandating severe penalties for bullies, it will further discourage reporting. The end result may be a policy that protects the school district from troublesome lawsuits and decreases bullying reports, which may make school officials and the board happy, but the actual bullying rate may increase.

Because school officials and the Board of Education represent the district and want to present their schools in the best possible light, they have a conflict of interest and are therefore biased. It is not too cynical to say that the purpose of their antibullying policies is not to decrease actual bullying, but to appear to reduce bullying rates, to reduce chances of lawsuits, to look better in state reports, to fulfill legislative mandates — in short, anything but reducing actual bullying.

Parents and students have to take the lead in addressing this problem. My recommendation is to concentrate on education and reporting. Just improving these two steps might decrease the rate of actual bullying.

My concept of a simple reporting system would be an independent website where a person could quickly report a bullying event in as much detail as the person wanted. I don’t know if school officials, the board, or the state would find this acceptable or interesting, but I am sure that, if they didn’t, Record-Eagle readers and elected legislators would.

About the author: Bradley Evans is a physician in private practice in the Traverse City area.

About the Forum: The Forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of interest or expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by emailing letters@ record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.




Support
 

In Support of the Traverse City Equal Opportunity Ordinance
City of Traverse City

FacebookOctober 04, 2010—At the regular City Commission meeting Mary Van Valin grew emotional as she stood at a podium to address the Traverse City Commission. "I have a dream that this community will stand on the side of love, not fear," Valin said Monday night.

Van Valin got her wish when the City Commissioners unanimously approved the Equal Opportunity Ordinance.

Equal Opportunity for the residents of Traverse City will be decided at the ballot box on November 8, 2011. Please vote.

READ MORE>>>

 

Oppose
 

Opposing the Traverse City Equal Opportunity Ordinance
Paul Nepote, et all

October 05, 2010—Paul Nepote filed notice of a Referendum Petition that he circulated for signatures, which reads: We, the undersigned registered voters of the City of Traverse City, under and by virtue of the authority granted by Chapter XV of the Traverse City Charter, do hereby protest against the following ordinance taking effect and petition your submission of said ordinance to the registered voters of the City of Traverse City, County of Grand Traverse, State of Michigan.

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Traverse City Equal Opportunity Ordinance

No person shall adopt, enforce or employ any policy or requirement which has the effect of creating unequal opportunities according to actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, family status, sexual orientation, marital status, physical or mental disability, or gender identity, for a person to obtain housing, employment or public accommodation.

Equal Opportunity for the residents of Traverse City will be decided at the ballot box on November 8, 2011. Please vote.

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Protect Liberty and Justice for All

October 06, 2010—The “TC Equality” group and this web site came into being more than a year ago for the purpose of preserving and protecting equal opportunity and equal protection in Traverse City. We appreciate your assistance.

Please share your time and resources freely. Help support the cost of protecting and preserving equal opportunity in our community. Every dollar you are able to contribute, and any time you are able to donate is deeply appreciated.


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