It’s time to put an end to bullying
The Blue Earth Area School District and the towns that comprise it took a big hit last week.
Phineas T. Barnum, the 19th century American showman and circus owner, is often credited with saying “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”
Phineas was wrong.
The arrest of several Blue Earth Area students who were charged with assault on another student was a very hot topic locally as well as statewide.
It was a terrible story, about an awful, alleged assault. And it shocked a lot of people.
Social media lit up in the local area. Unfortunately, as is usually the case, not all of what was shared was accurate. And a lot of it was downright nasty. And, in a few cases, just plain wrong. It seemed as though some were attempting to have the case tried on Facebook, instead of a court of law.
And, they were doing it with a lot of conjecture. They were guessing at the facts, what had happened and when.
At the Faribault County Register, we try and deal with the facts, and just the facts. We can’t deal in guesses, gossip, rumor, or unsubstantiated accusations.
But, be all that as it may, there is one thing for sure. This incident has damaged the reputation of the school and the community.
Especially when it was reported by at least four TV stations, some of them from the Twin Cities, and many daily newspapers.
It was and still is big news. And it was ugly news. We reported the story here at the Register, as well, but we sure didn’t take any pleasure in doing so.
It could have a ripple down effect on many of the efforts to make improvements to the area, bring people here to live and work, and promote the quality of the life that can be found in our own piece of southern Minnesota.
You know, the home of Minnesota Nice. Not Minnesota Mean.
On the flip side of the coin is the reaction of some people to this incident as an act of bullying at its worst.
Some say there is a lot of bullying going on in our school. I don’t have much evidence one way or the other; however, I don’t doubt it.
That is because I think there is bullying in a lot of schools. I have seen it so many times, sometimes first hand. And I think bullying has been around for a long, long time.
So many of my friends, relatives and coworkers have related their personal stories of being bullied, at least at some point in their lives.
I can count myself as one of those who was bullied. When you are at a new school and you are short and smaller than everyone else in ninth grade, and look more like a seventh grader than a high schooler, you get harassed, picked on, teased, and well, yeah, bullied.
Back in my school days, we were told to try and just deal with the “teasing” as it was called then, or avoid it. Sure, if a teacher actually witnessed something, that was one thing. But, that rarely happened.
And, of course, back in those long ago times, there wasn’t any ‘social media and something called ‘cyber-bullying.’ So the bullying was usually just face to face.
Now days, however, bullying victims can be harassed 24/7 because of all this texting, snap-chatting and other social media.
Social media can be mighty anti-social, if you ask me.
I feel a lot of sympathy for the victim in this particular case, and his family, and for all victims of bullying. It is a nasty, hurtful thing. And the scars from it, both physically and mentally, can last a lifetime.
Maybe something good can come out of this current case of bullying and assault. Perhaps parents, teachers, administrators and the students themselves can come together in a positive way and fight this bullying thing together.
Because it’s time for it to go away. Just like how it is time for all of this sexual harassment and assault in the political, entertainment and business world to go away, as well. People are indeed saying they have had enough, and this has got to stop.
Exposing the fact that it is going on is a first step. Confronting the people doing it is the next step.
And finally, uniting together and making it totally unacceptable is the final step, with the people who commit this type of behavior being held responsible for their actions.
Schools have anti-bullying programs and policies in place. That is all well and good, but they also need the backing of everyone in the school and in the community as well. Perhaps this is the right time…
I know, some think maybe it won’t happen. This problem has been around for a long time and it is hard to get rid of it. But it’s sure worth a try, isn’t it?