Be ‘nice’ — or else

At Back to School Night, the principal talked for 20 minutes about draconian new anti-bullying rules, writes Laura on 11D.

If a student is caught picking on another student, because of some perceived physical, sexual, ethnic, or neurological difference, the bully will have a permanent mark on his record. Schools are legally required to monitor this behavior, which can happen outside of school grounds or even on the Internet. 

Jonah attended school presentations on the topic. His school is particularly sensitive about bullying, because the Rutgers boy who killed himself after being mocked for being gay, had attended Jonah’s middle school.

At Ian’s school, the principal of his special needs school was also alarmed. She viewed this law, which was clearly designed to help kids with neurological differences, as a potential landmine for our kids. Kids with neurological differences have no social filter and think nothing of going up to people to inform that they are overweight. Could their innocent social blunders be construed as acts of bullying?

Laura wonders if the law will be effective.

Won’t smart, mean kids inflict pain in very subtle ways that wouldn’t be picked up by this law? The silent treatment is a very effective method of bullying.

The principals at both schools saw the law as a “bureaucratic nightmare,” Laura writes.

I don’t think anti-bullying campaigns should stress the motivation for bullying. It doesn’t matter if the victim is singled out because he’s different or because he’s convenient.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will speak today at the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit in Washington, D.C., which will run through tomorrow.