It is a topic that has seemed to fade from the spotlight…for all but those who truly suffer under the Massachusetts assaults, destruction of property and harassment that fall under the topic of bullying. Not so long ago, it was a wonderful political football regarding which the law enforcement community and politicians alike were able to grab headlines.
But, then, it seemed to be played out. No, the problem did not disappear. It’s just that after draconian political prosecutions start to be criticized and the legislature shoves worthless-yet-politically-shiny new laws into public view…what else is there to do? After all, since such approaches were clearly not going to improve things, the issue simply became too embarrassing to keep talking about.
Apparently, however, Boston-based Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is taking the stage once again to revive the public rant against Massachusetts bullying in schools.
The AG is planning to testify Tuesday before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education on recommendations from a special bullying commission. This commission was created under the 2010 anti-bullying law which lawmakers rushed through and then congratulated themselves on passing the “toughest” such bill in the nation…although it was a toothless and overly broad piece of legislation that accomplished little other than creating “No Name Calling Day”, a new semi-holiday that has made a real difference in the lives of all the bullied and the bullies.
The commission’s recommendations have included requiring schools to collect annual data on bullying. It also requires schools to state in their anti-bullying plans that certain categories of students are particularly vulnerable to bullying and harassment. Of course, some schools have complied with the original statute…some have not. With an overly broad statute that seeks to treat grammar school students and college students the same way…it kind of leaves one standing with a huge question mark hanging over their heads when trying to figure out what schools are really expected to do.
I wonder what new and specific new ideas the AG will bring to the table this time…other than telling us that bullying is a problem that costs a number of kids their lives and those branded with the scarlet “B”should simply be locked up?
Attorney Sam’s Take On Political Prosecutors, Public Dialogue And The Issue Of Bullying
The Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog has been quite vocal over the last couple of years on this subject. I have talked about it on television, radio, print media and, of course, this blog.
“Hey, Sam, it sounds like you are not doing very much more to help the problem than the politicians you criticize.”
Maybe. Of course, I have not exactly been invited to participate in being able to make a difference on a larger level. Instead, I am relegated to the criminal justice trenches where the individual battles are fought out.
You see, the problem continues and it does not seem to have abated on either end of the spectrum.
“What are the different ends of the spectrum?”
The bullied and the alleged bullies. I still see many cases wherein there is undeniable and horrific bullying and yet the school simply turns its head. Then, again, I see other cases, which continue to increase, where schools feel that upon an accusation they must immediately contact the police. Once the police become involved, the matter is brought to court. After all, the officers have to cover their rear parts too.
This, of course, often worsens the situation and damages the accused’s future because it goes on his or her record…regardless of the outcome. Having therefore limited the future possibilities for Massachusetts juveniles who seemingly already had anger issues…well, put it this way…the problem seldom becomes better..
“What involvement can you have with the bullied?”
There are parents of kids who try to get the school’s attention in some bullying cases and are ignored. I try to make the school pay attention.
“And do they?”
Sometimes. Particularly when they are reminded that they have to.
Perhaps, this time, the AG will have some new and well thought out solutions to suggest. Excuse my doubtfulness, however. Political approaches are usually too simple. Simple feel-good “one size fits all” type of solutions do not work for these types of problems. Unfortunately, taking the time to really think through the problem is not usually politically expedient.
That is why I am so critical of how this problem has been dealt with so far. It does nothing save give a false sense of security to some and puts many kids in danger.
Danger of bullying.
Danger of being mindlessly branded a “Bully”.
Dont get me wrong…I do not mind handling the cases; it is what I do. But then, as a human being, I would much rather see the situation improved.
It’s not easy being a kid these days, folks. And we are not making it any easier!
For the original article upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/10/22/mass_ag_to_testify_on_school_bullying_clampdown/