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Massachusetts Legislature Passes Anti-Bullying Measure

Jim Burroway

April 29th, 2010

Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover

Both houses of the Massachusetts legislature approved an anti-bullying law spurred on by the deaths of two youths who committed suicide following episodes of bullying by their classmates. The unanimous votes in both houses was on a reconciling bill which ironed out difference in two earlier bills from each house. The legislation will require school employees to report all instances of bullying and require principals to investigate them. A spokesman for the governor’s office said that Gov. Deval Patrick (D) will review the bill, but that he saw its passage as a “top priority.”

The impetus for the bill came from the suicides of Phoebe Prince and 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, who killed himself just over a year ago over taunts about his perceived sexuality.

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Steve
May 1st, 2010 | LINK

It amazes me at the mockery dished out on many right wing Christian websites (i.e. Stand Firm in Faith)about efforts to cut down on bullying. It is not uncommon to see comments such as “it helps with character development for a kid to get beat up every now and then”, or “bullying is part of growing up, deal with it”.
I dealt with two years of non-stop bullying by two other boys when I was in the 7th and 8th grade. Why was I bullied? In retrospect perhaps they could sense that I was gay(or at a minimum somehow different)although at that time I had no inkling of what being gay was. It was a miserable two year experience that only ended when I left for high school. I dreaded going to school, and to this day I would like to find the two guys who perpetrated this and beat the living daylights out of them. That is how strong my feelings are to this day at age 50. The bullying had a profound impact on me and created a low sense of self esteem, depression, and a sense that I was inferior.
So, in response to the right wing Episcopalians and others who view this bullying as a non-issue, it clearly is an issue. Shame on the teachers who don’t act to stop it. Shame on parents who also don’t have the courage to discipline their children. And shame on so called Christians who have some warped idea that Christ would encourage misery and hopelessness in a child’s life. Childhood should be associated with happiness and hope for a good future. Life only gets harder as you age. Have we not evolved beyond the pecking order in a flock of chickens where the newcomer who may have a different color pattern or comb size is pecked unmercilessly to death?

Regan DuCasse
May 1st, 2010 | LINK

I concur, Jim. We see also, how quickly the same people who claim they represent God, play the persecution card when challenged by gay people, no matter what it is.

Their level of tolerance for their own medicine is about zilch.
Even when they aren’t being forced to swallow it, they STILL cry out in indignation.

The usual faces we’re confronted with (the white, heterosexual, Christian males ones) in leadership of the staunchest opposition organizations: could hardly claim THEY have ANY experience with discrimination or unfair systemic social practices on their LIVES.
So they aren’t too interested in defending those who do have that experience.
I’m almost of a mind to make them experience what children like C Walker-Hoover did, FOR REAL.

Steve
May 1st, 2010 | LINK

Agree fully with Regan’s comments. The ability to show empathy is often based on one’s previous experiences. By and large from what I have seen in Colorado, is that the staunchest right wing Christians who want to make bullying a non-issue have lived sheltered lives. And yes, they are usually white males, often from the midwest or south, have never lived in large racially diverse cities, and often believe that gay people are only in areas far from there safe, sterilized communities. Furthermore, the indignation and pouting that they put forth when confronted is laughable. The typical response is “how dare you question me” and then the tired old argument of the domino effect…..i.e. if we prevent bullying then what? Will kids be punished for any playground fight? Will teachers be at risk for losing their jobs if any schooyard altercation should occur. They take everything to the nth degree trying to make us think that if this thing happens(even though it may have some good outcomes)it will only lead to worse things down the road and the fall of human civilization as we know it. This line of logic is getting old. I call it the hyperbole defense. Common sense dictates that kids will always get in fights. Common sense also dictates that kids can be incredibly and relentlessly cruel to one another. It is that kind of relentless persecution that the law is supposed to help correct.

paul j stein
May 1st, 2010 | LINK

The school killings that happen are most usually the result of bullying. I don’t condone this behavior but without the skills to deal with the effects of bullying the results are horrific. I kicked a lot of guys asses in school. Spent a lot of time in the deans office. After the first situation of “education of IDIOTS” I was asked if it was true that I was GAY, I thought about it and responded that “I am GAY, WILL be GAY, and it is illegal to treat me any different and I will sue their asses”. This was 1973, I was 14 years old, OUT and PROUD. At 6’1″, 185# I was ready for the shit and willing to go a few rounds.

paul j stein
May 1st, 2010 | LINK

If anyone EVER bullied my kids I would snatch the little bastard up and drag his ass home and kick his parent(s) ass, then post bail and sue everyone involved!

Jason D
May 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Not to defend them, but bullies are often someone else’s victim. Their parents, older siblings bully them, or they have a learning disability/low self-esteem, some other difficult issue and their destructive way of dealing with it is to bully someone else. It gives them a feeling of power, of control. Chances are the kid being bullied will him/herself become a bully, and the cycle will continue.

When we ignore it, we let down both the victim and the bully.
Bullying is anti-social behavior and should alarm any parent, teacher, or administrator because it can and often does lead to MORE anti-social behavior.

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