Parents of many Glendale Unified students, as well as concerned citizens, packed into the Glendale Unified School District boardroom recently for the “Bully Me Not” community forum. Speakers included Fritz Coleman, weathercaster for the Channel 4 news team, as well as Suellen Fried, founder of Bully Safe USA.
Coleman helped give a deeper understanding of the long term effects of bullying, clearly recalling his experiences of being bullied in the sixth grade, and giving a comparison to the difference between the type of bullying he went through and bullying due to race or sexual preference.
“I can’t imagine [being subjected to this type of bullying], which has become much more widespread as communities become more integrated,” he said to the audience.
According to statistics presented at the forum, every day in America 160,000 children stay home from school due to fear of being bullied. Fried declared that bullying is worse than ever and believes the increase is due to the loss of innocence many children go through at a much younger age. Fried also fixed blame on violent television programming and video games. She went on to point out that many of the school shootings, which have shocked the nation in the past, were caused by those who were bullied and ostracized by their peers.
After Fried’s speech, the rest of the panel was introduced. It included Detective Ernesto Gaxiola of the Glendale Police Department. He presented the dating violence scenario as a type of bullying in addition to the more commonly known forms such as physical bullying and “cyber-bullying.”
Some believe that when bullying is reduced in schools a reduction in crimes such as domestic violence may also occur. Suggestions were offered at the forum including moving computers into a common place in the household in order to deter cyberbullying, and offering a willingness to talk about bullying without being judgmental.
Coleman added that bullies are no longer only the biggest kid in school, but due to the Internet, anyone can be a bully, often without fear of repercussions.