The tragic consequences of childhood bullying have captured the collective attention of our nation in recent months. We have, as a society, had to endure the truths about what children are capable of doing to each other. Bullying or “peer abuse” has been characterized as the most prevalent form of violence in American schools. Although we denote childhood as a time of innocence, a landmark period when the world is open to discovery, it often unfolds into a traumatizing and threatening place.
Here, in New York, after ten (10) years of “legislating” Governor Paterson signed the “Dignity For All Student’s Act” into law on September 10, 2010. However, as we are all now painfully aware, the issue of bullying should have commanded our serious attention and action long before now. The act is a mandate to New York State public schools to provide an environment “free of discrimination and harassment.”
Legislation, such as The Dignity For All Students Act should not be viewed as a culminating event, but a start. We as adults, parents, caregivers and educators must take it upon ourselves to set an example for the youth in our midst. The idea that children bullying other children is a rite of passage; a part of childhood that positively influences character must be relegated to the ranks of “smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer,” for as we now know, it is equally as lethal.