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Bullying Has Run Rampant for Prince George’s County Schools | Schools

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Bullying Has Run Rampant for Prince George’s County Schools

This year has been a particularly tough year for Prince George’s County Public Schools when it comes to bullying.  There have been stories upon stories about the struggle combating this problem.  Most recently, there was a story of a boy, Darrell Forrest, at Friendly High School, who was physically, verbally and emotionally abused by a group of students at his school.  Since the incident, his mother has taken him out of school and is looking for a solution after several attempts to get the school’s administration to handle it.  Last year, there was also a well publicized incident at Bowie High School, where the bullies’ attack on one student actually became a Facebook video, and resulted in the parents also removing their child from the school.

In both situations, parents were left frustrated.  Mary Thomas, mother of Darrell Forrest, stated that the school system has failed to protect her son and that communication with teachers and administration has yielded nothing to stop the bullying.  Sattie Alami, the mother of the student attacked at Bowie, stated that she communicated with administrators to no avail and even witnessed her son coming home with a bloody shirt.  As a parent, the frustration and stress of knowing that your child could be put in such a harmful and unproductive environment is difficult to cope with.  Unfortunately, with many of these stories, there seems to be such a great disconnection between the parents and the administration, so much so, that little to no progress is being made to the parent’s satisfication of dealing with these problems.  In the case of bullying, it is equally true that many school systems in this country, and particularly this area, have had to deal with this same issue and have yielded similar results of unsatisfied parents.

In order to address the issue of bullying, Prince George’s County Public Schools has a section on their website dedicated to addressing the subject.  According to Prince George’s County Public Schools’ website,

It is the intent of Prince George’s County Public Schools to maintain safe environments that are conducive to learning.

Bullying, harassment, and intimidation are anti-social behaviors that are conducted with the intent to cause harm and are characterized by an imbalance of power.

Bullying, harassment, and intimidation is intentional conduct, including verbal, physical, or written conduct, or an intentional electronic communication, that creates a hostile educational environment by substantially interfering with a student’s educational benefits, opportunities, or performance, or with a student’s physical or psychological well-being and is motivated by an actual or a perceived personal characteristic including race, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ancestry, physical attributes, socio-economic status, familial status, or physical or mental ability or disability or is threatening or seriously intimidating; and, occurs on school property, at a school activity or event, or on a school bus; or, substantially disrupts the orderly operation of a school and occurs repeatedly over time. 

The school system also gives links to forms to report bullying, helpful tips on students and parents dealing with bullying, outside links for general bullying information, and also a summary of the school system’s anti-bullying week that took place from November 15-19, 2010.

Students have also taken some initiative to address bullying.  At Oxon Hill High School, the school’s Student Government Association helped launch a campaign known as ‘One Less Bully, One More Friend’.  The campaign started after the high school began to notice issues, which began online, and then caused disruption in-person in their school.  In order to enact this intiative, students have begun wearing specially-designed T-shirts with the initiative’s namesake on it every Wednesday, commenced weekly discussions about experiences with bullying, and are providing peer mediation when necessary.  The students have met with the Superintendent, Dr. William Hite, and have pushed to make this initiative a county-wide program.

Even with initiatives like this, one has to wonder with the proposed plan to cut the number of guidance counselor’s jobs, assigning guidance counselor’s to multiple schools, and to increase class sizes, if this bully prevention will improve.  

What needs to change in order for parents to be satistified with the communication that they have received?  What can administrators do to aid teachers in controlling the bullying problem in the classrooms and in the hallways of these schools? And finally, what can students do to help counteract such a violatile environment?

Only time will tell if these efforts will work.