A new law is changing the way school districts in Texas handle bullying incidents. Valerie Gonzalez-Sanchez explains how this new law defines bullying and how one special group of kids are helping to enforce it.
After months of summer vacation, the day has finally arrived, the day the kids go back to school. But, there are a group of kids that may not be looking forward to the new school year.
Bullying has grown as quickly as technology has expanded. As a result, a new Texas law is redefining bullying by including cyber-bullying. Things like "sending inappropriate text messages to another student, making threatening remarks, making terroristic threats" are all prohibited says LISD K. Tarver Counselor Maria Elena Hernandez.
This law also empowers victims who fight back. If it is determined they used reasonable self-defense, victims will not be punished. Yet, the ambitious law is also making other changes. It used to be that the victim of bullying was the one transferred from the class or from the campus. Under this new law, the bully could be transferred out of the school or classroom depending on the investigation.
One Laredo ISD school tackled the anti-bullying issue a few years ago with the creation of the Bully Busters. Counselor Hernandez, and creator of the Bully Busters, explains how the team helps: "So they're like patrolling those areas, so the other students are seeing. 'Ok, I can't be bullying, because there are eyes watching me; there's someone that's going to report me.'" That is more true now than before. The law also holds all employed adults accountable for reporting all bullying incidents, but at K. Tarver, the students are involved too. Rogelio Gonzalez, a 5th grade member says "We all try our best trying to protect the children from the bullies, and we'll try our best trying to stop them." The group acts like a mini-watchdog group that, with their unique student-to-student approach, is already yielding results.
Tracy Hernandez, a 5th grader involved in the group, says: "By the way, we also make friends, and they get to know us more and whenever they have problems, they come and talk to us."
While bullying may not be eliminated in one fell swoop, one thing is certain: "We're not going to tolerate bullying anymore."
Valerie Gonzalez-Sanchez, Pro8News.
If you're worried about retaliation, don't be; the new law and the districts have prohibited retaliation and defined it. Both districts have set up a process to report a bullying incident. LISD has even set up a webpage on their homepage where parents can submit a bullying incident without even leaving their home. For more information on the process involved, you can revisit your child's Student Code of Conduct booklet.