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My Turn: Ripple effect of bullying unacceptable, preventable

State Rep. Diane Schuett, sponsor of the Healthy Workplace Bill, said, “We all know there’s bullying in school, and just because someone graduates from school, doesn’t mean they stop doing it, and it carries over into the workplace.”

Schools shouldn’t be breeding grounds for bullies or places where they can be a menace to targeted or random students without significant consequences. This bad behavior must be strictly dealt with in schools to reduce, or better, stop its development. What is often mistakenly assumed is that the bullying is done only by students.

Bullying occurs in a school when someone acts mean-spirited; it is not necessarily physical contact. Unnecessary unreasonable conduct intended to overburden/oppress a student is also considered bullying. The bully could be a teacher, coach or anyone working at the school.

In these cases the behavior is opprobrium and should be justiciable because it is being learned by students through example and therefore taught by those expected and trusted to be the students role models/protectors.

But in any case of bullying the consequences to the victims are often serious, including triggering depression, alcohol/substance abuse and suicide, or the victim may act out and bully others.

Parents, guardians, caretakers, students and the family need to be aware of this behavior so if it happens to a student family member or someone they may know it can be reported for investigation by the school administration.

Every school should have a zero-tolerance policy that protects students from bullying behavior. It should be explained clearly in student/parent/guardian handbooks. The federal government requires schools to comply with anti-bullying laws.

I find it appropriate to conclude using the words of a 2014 Concord High School graduate, class president Ryan Donnelly. Profound were his closing comments ending the graduation ceremony: “Treat people well . . . happy people make a happy world.”

(Don Jewell lives in Concord.)

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