As if we needed another reminder, the horrendous tragedy in Newtown hits home again. Our children are not safe in school. Once there, they are open to harm not only from intruders, but from insiders as well.
We all now know that the carnage in Newtown occurred when a young, disturbed man from the community committed murder upon murder in an elementary school. Though rare, this type of slaughter is not rare enough, but when it happens it instills a terror that will haunt our children for a lifetime.
Sadly, our schools are also a place where terror of another kind much more frequently occurs. This terror stems from a threat within the social population. The threat is relentless. It occurs virtually daily. It terrifies our children. It affects their emotional, mental and physical well-being. It results in our children not only hating school, but hating themselves. Bullying is the threat, and it knows no boundaries. It can affect any child who is different from the bully, whether, for example, the child is gay, obese, challenged or of another race or religion.
A 2002 report by Public Health – Seattle & King County entitled Bullying and Biased-Based Harassment in King County Schools, http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/data/youth.aspx , found that:
- Almost half of the gay, lesbian and bisexual students reported having been harassed based on their perceived sexual orientation; and
- Students who have been harassed based on their perceived sexual orientation are more than six times as likely as their peers to report having carried a gun to school in the measuring month (10.4% vs. 1.7%).
That means over 10% of our gay, lesbian and bisexual youth who were harassed freely admitted to carrying a gun to school for protection. Gun carrying for protection is not even the worst of the statistics. Here’s one that will bring fear to a parent’s heart:
- 23.2% of students who have been harassed based on their perceived sexual orientation reported having attempted suicide in the measuring year – more than three times the rate of their non-harassed peers (23.2% vs. 7.1%.).
Because of ignorant bullies, OUR CHILDREN ARE DYING, whether in body, in mind or in soul. As with the threat to our children from outside the school, the threat from within its walls has got to stop. Our precious children deserve no less.
Image courtesy of: http://www.buffaloschools.org/Burgard.cfm?subpage=85471