No parent wants to have to explain to their child why they were teased or bullied for the way they look, talk, or how hard they work in school.

But those conversations happen every day. As parents, there’s perhaps nothing more heartbreaking than to hear your child tell you that a classmate shoved your son or daughter or stole their lunch money.

More than 1 in 5 students in the U.S. report being bullied, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, with 33 percent saying they were bullied at least once or twice a month during the school year.

Students who are bullied are at increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, anxiety and depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With social media so prevalent, starting rumors about a classmate or mocking them is so much easier. All it takes is 280 characters on Twitter to humiliate someone.

It’s with this in mind we’re appreciative that Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll) has again introduced a bill in the Maryland General Assembly to address bullying.

Hough’s bill would hold bullies accountable and have them follow a four-step approach that includes apologizing, offering restitution if anything was damaged or stolen, attending a conference, and as a last resort, modifying their schedule so they are not in the same classroom as the student who was bullied.

Hough says he got the idea after legislation passed recently to create a statewide process for these restorative programs for youth criminal offenders. But Hough saw how such an approach could apply to bullying. So he looked to Pennsylvania, which has a similar law in place, for guidance.

And while Hough’s bill will not end bullying, we see the ideas suggested by the senator as having some merit. Restorative justice can certainly be one approach used in addressing bullying. Our question has more to do with whether making this process a law is the right way to go.

At a recent hearing in Annapolis, some senators worried the bill “lacked teeth” and wondered how the implementation would be enforced in each school district. We reluctantly agree, especially if school boards already have their own anti-bullying plan in place.

Frederick County Public Schools, for instance, has been working to implement restorative practices at each school, including training going on this year.

FCPS has plenty of programs and resources available to help children who are bullied. That includes training for staff, curriculum on bullying and harassment, and ways to report bullying either by going directly to a teacher or other staff member or through an online form, which can be found here: www.fcps.org/academics/stop-bullying.

Hough added to his argument that it would be disingenuous for legislators to focus so much of their attention this year on the Kirwan Commission and how to implement proposals related to education without focusing on the children’s safety.

Hough’s idea is not the perfect solution, though no single idea is when it comes to combating this multifaceted problem. But we see what he’s suggesting as an important tool in a school system’s toolbox in addressing bullying, particularly those who are in trouble for the first time.

“I just want to make sure there are safety measures,” Hough said.

We agree. Not every good idea has to be legislated. We support Hough’s idea and hope school boards across the state embrace it, even if it doesn’t become law.

(14) comments

FCPS-Principal

There is nothing wrong with Hough's proposals, just don't expect them to have any effect on bullies. They are mostly feel-good, toothless actions designed to create the impression of action. Apologies are cheap. We read of them every day, every single day, mainly from righties who accidentally release an insult about blacks or females. "I apologize." Means nothing. Requiring restitution is pointless because 99% of bullying is physical or verbal, does not involve property. Conferences are toothless jokes too. Bullies usually have the backing of their parents and schools are loathe to criticize parents. The one who usually winds up having to tolerate a change is schedule is the victim, which is a clear acknowledgement of victory to the bully. No, Hough's proposals are near useless. People change behavior based on reward and consequences, nothing else.

Kelpfarming

And we wonder where the snowflake culture came from. We cant defend ourselves because we teach victimology partially because some lifestyles and beahviours arent capable of standing up to opposing ideas.

bkeepr

Incidents of bullying happen every day, all around us: not merely in school, but as adults at work, while driving, shopping, and sometimes even in relationships. That conversation with your child about it happening at school is a parent's teaching opportunity to teach the child that this does happen, that there are some bad people in the world, and begin to strengthen a child to mentally deal with it. Parents who don't do this are shirking their responsibility to raise independent, adaptable, mentally healthy children who will thrive in the real world.

Kelpfarming

The Federal Government and their pocket activists at the ACLU increasingly refuse to allow school districts to kick dysfunctional kids out of school. SO once again this is thanks to the do-gooder brigade who talk out both sides of their mouth. Bullying has been hijacked to mean "if you dont affirm me" to advance social agendas in disguise. Apparently that is okay but when kids are assaulted the teachers are reluctant to suspend the bullies. thats where the problem is. NO CONSEQUENCES..unless its advancing some agenda.

bkeepr

There's a very good--albeit somewhat depressing--book about this entitled "Why Meadow Died." Written by the father of a mass-shooting victim, it goes into detail about specific school system policies and actions (or inaction) that directly led to the shooting at Stoneman High School in Florida.

Kelpfarming

Yep, because hyperbole and feelings are something only a leftists understands..and deploys. And they wonder how Trump won. Cheers

duffy5x

Wow...that is a lot of Fox Entertainment disinformation from someone who obviously does not work in a school.

Kelpfarming

Wow, and now you are a mind reader. The left just gets madder and madder. Excellent

Ystj

Public schools are failing. It’s very sad to see what’s happening with teachers having no power to discipline. Look at Monocacy Middle, that is a bullying, gang infested place. Best of luck to addressing this. It takes baby steps, but IMO you either listen in class or go to detention all day with military style rules. Kids like structure and this will give them what they need.

Comment deleted.
bnick467

I agree wholeheartedly. Editors, please ban KellyAlzan for calling you the "fake news post".

sevenstones1000

If FCPS believes bullying today consists mainly of shoving and stealing lunch money, we are in terrible trouble.

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