Character Education, Student Engagement Essential to Stop Bullies


By Michael Novinson
Kansas City e-zine
For mother Sirdeaner Walker, reality surpassed her worst nightmares. She imagined her son Carl, 11 at the time, would be doing homework or playing videogames as she cooked dinner on April 6.

Washington, D.C. But when she walked into his room, she found him hanging by an extension cord tied around his neck.

“What could make a child his age despair so much that he would take his own life?” she wondered.

She knew Carl was being bullied relentlessly at the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Mass., but she never imagined suicide would be the outcome.

Walker decided that speaking out would be her best therapy, which eventually led her to testify at a July 8 House of Representatives hearing on preventing school bullying, hosted by two Education and Labor subcommittees.

“Sometimes we view bullying kind of like a right of passage — everybody got bullied and just got through it,” said Scott Poland, coordinator of the office of suicide and violence prevention at Nova Southeastern University, near Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “Thankfully, many people do get through it. But sometimes, they do not.”

Bullying refers to repeated aggressive physical or verbal behavior intended to cause harm and occurs increasingly through instant messaging and Facebook, according to a statement by the American Psychological Association. More than three-quarters of students report being bullied at some point. Full story.

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