Cumberland Times-News

May 6, 2013

They thought it was handled, but it wasn’t

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— Every morning on my way to work, I hear a public service announcement by young people from our local schools.

The message is that bullying needs to be prevented and that anyone, whether you are the victim of or witnessing bullying, should speak up.

Recently, at one of our local high schools it was uncovered that a social networking account using the school’s name had been created and used to bully other students.

Upon receiving this information, an administrator, maybe more, found the guilty parties and the website was taken down. A new social networking account was created not using the high school’s name.

It may or may not matter that the offending parties are football players. I’ll let the readers decide, but I think is an important piece of information.

What is troubling and the impetus of this letter is that school administrators failed to discipline the offending parties. Their answer was to get the offending parties to shut down the website and when informed that the name was changed, their response was “I thought this was handled.”  

How can you have students speak up about bullying when offenders go unpunished?  How hypocritical is it to say bullying is such an important issue and then fail to put consequences in place?

Administrators are informed of such incidents and they fail to take the very stand against it that they say they want from students.  

This act of heartless effrontery is a disgrace to the community. This particular administrator seems to have made a dangerous rationalization that it would be over because he said so.

It seems that some students have impunity from the consequences of their behavior or at least one administrator is too small minded or does not want to do the job they are getting paid to do.  

I hope parents and students would consider that if administrators at your school are not taking issues of bullying seriously that you report it to law enforcement for action.

State laws against bullying and harassment and the Code of Maryland State Board of Education Regulations (School Safety) are in place to support you.

If nothing else alert the schools superintendent and if necessary, the Maryland State Board of Education.

If no one else will, I will echo the message of the public service announcement on the radio; be a friend to a bullied person, don’t give bullies audiences whether it is in person or on social networking, tell a trusted adult, and set a good example.

Let’s hope that other schools are acting against bullying and that this particular incident was an anomaly and not standard procedure.

If you believe this incident (what may be called allegation) is incorrect, please come forward publicly and correct it. I withheld names to give you an opportunity to do so.

Gregory Richards