25/05 : School Violence-Part OneSchool Violence- Part One
By: Mare Martell
As the end of the school year draws to a close and some schools are already out for the summer, parents and kids may be looking forward to a summer of family vacations and lazy days. School is the last thing on anyone's mind once that final bell rings denoting the end of the academic year. But there are some things you may not be aware of in regards to school violence and its affects on the children you'll be sharing the summer months with every day.
Recently in the Anderson County Schools there was an incident that occurred before the school day had begun. It started out with one student harassing another by tugging on the hood of the second child's shirt. The second child told him to quit repeatedly but that seemed only to encourage the first child. When the second child could take no more, he punched the bully in the stomach. The bully got up off of the floor where they were seated, beat the second child over the head with his fists before kneeing the second child in the face. Both boys were taken to the office. The bully received one day of in school suspension. The injured child was given the same thing. They were then sent on to class.
The injured child's face was obviously swollen and quite painful, but nothing was done for him. He made it all the way to his fourth period class before the Math teacher told him that he had to go home. From before 8am until after 1pm this child sat in terrible pain. Nothing was done to help him.
When he finally went home after 1pm, he was taken to the emergency room where it was discovered that the child had suffered from a fractured face as a direct result of the other child's actions. The school was informed of this and did nothing to aid the suffering child.
According to the Anderson County Code of Conduct, a child has the right to: “Protection of person and property to the fullest extent possible by the school.” They also have the right to: “Respect from other students and school personnel. Be free of abuse and the threat of abuse.” In fairness, neither student maintained their responsibilities to the school or to each other. However, the school has specific guidelines regarding violence.
A student will not use violence, threats, force, noise, coercion, intimidation, fear, passive resistance, e-mail and/or other technologies or any other conduct which causes the disruption, interference or obstruction of any school purpose; nor shall any student acting alone or with others direct against any other student any intentional or reckless act that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of that student. Neither will he nor she urge students to engage in such conduct.
The policy against bullying, which started the entire incident, is also as well defined. It reads, “Students shall be provided a safe learning environment. It shall be a violation of this policy for any student to bully, intimidate or create a hostile educational environment for another student. Bullying and intimidation are defined as either physically harming a student or damaging his/her property, or knowingly placing the student in reasonable fear of such, or creating a hostile educational environment.”
The penalties for the behavior that was exhibited that morning, in and around the fact that there was unusual injury was not sufficient. The line that explains what applies to both the regular offenses and the severe offenses is hazy. In their own policies, “First Offense Consequences may include but are not limited to: Verbal reprimand, special assignment, restriction of activities, counseling, parent contact, withdrawal of privileges, issuance of demerits which might affect citizenship or deportment grades, detention, in-school suspension, restitution of property, and out-of-school suspension.
Second Offense Consequences may include but are not limited to: Detention, parent contact, in-school suspension, restitution of property, withdrawal of privileges, corporal punishment, out-of-school suspension, disciplinary hearing, and Learn Center Program referral.
Third Offense Consequences may include but are not limited to: Corporal punishment, withdrawal of privileges, in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, Learn Center Program referral, and expulsion.
SEVERE CLAUSE – Any student behavior of a severe nature, even on the first offense, may be subject to Third Offense Consequences and possible law enforcement involvement.
A logical conclusion would be that a fractured bone would constitute that of a severe nature, but again, the school did nothing. In fact, the parent was told that it was just horseplay. The bully was a model student who was never in trouble, it just got out of hand. Then it was said that the bully was trying to knee the injured child in the stomach. If the bully was standing and the injured child was still on the floor, how could that be possible? Then the story changed again when a police report charging the bully with assault had the statement on it that read that the bully accidentally fell on the injured child. So which is accurate?
The fact that the school opted to disregard this particular incident is rather unusual. In todays society where lawsuits are as common as socks, it may seem odd that the school did not seek justice. It may seem even more far-fetched that even in the light of more recent events, they still opt to do nothing. The very same bully was suspended for five days less than two weeks after this incident for beating up another child. For example, the Severe Clause does not state in any way shape or form what exactly constitutes severity. Broken bones as a direct result of an altercation, would truly appear to be under that clause, but obviously not according to the school.
Perhaps implementing a more clear policy or a standard operating procedure that has a stronger definitions of how things should be handled according to the offense would be more effective than leaving it so wide open to interpretation. Would it not be more constructive to insure the safety of the children by clarifying those lines? When the new school year rolls around quicker than the children may like, is their safety going to be equally disregarded by the very schools they attend? Are they also going to be hesitant to return to their alma mater when something violent happens to them? Are they also going to have to feel like a second class citizen if they raise their voice in protest? I would hope not.