Most people agree that bullying is a big problem for schoolkids, and anti-bullying efforts have gotten a lot of lip service in the past year or so. But now, some kids are doing more than talk — one boy is working with the ACLU, while others recorded their bullies to catch them in the act.
The Chillicothe Gazette and Columbus Dispatch report that 15-year-old Zach Huston was getting bullied at Unioto High School in Ohio for being openly gay. When he reported this to school authorities, they refused to help, saying he should change his own behavior to attract less attention and that bullying was simply what he should expect from a school full of "Bible-beaters." Then he was brutally attacked, and a classmate caught the beating on video. Now the ACLU has sent a letter to the school asking school officials to meet with them to discuss better anti-bullying policies — if they refuse to do so, the ACLU will sue. James Hardiman, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, says, "It's not enough to have a policy on paper. The policy must have meaning — it must have teeth. [...] Having a policy in place and not enforcing it is tantamount to not having a policy at all."
It also appears, sadly, that reporting bullying to parents and authorities isn't always enough. Nobody believed 15-year-old Julio Artuz that his teacher was verbally abusing him, so he took a cell phone video that revealed the teacher's repeated insults and threats. And school administrators said 14-year-old Cheyanne was lying about her teachers' bullying — until she captured their cruel comments on tape. Bullying has become a high-profile national issue, and many schools now say they're committed to stopping it. But words aren't actions — and kids, frustrated that their schools aren't protecting them, are being forced to fight back. A major tool in this fight is recording equipment. With bullying on the forefront of people's minds, recorded instances of it are more likely than ever before to provoke widespread outrage. And that outrage makes it harder for schools to just sweep things under the rug. They shouldn't have to resort to this, but kids may be able to use nationwide anti-bullying sentiment to make their schools sit up, take notice, and protect them.
ACLU Threatens Lawsuit Against Unioto [Chillicothe Gazette]
Anti-Gay Bullying Gets ACLU's Attention [Columbus Dispatch]
Special Needs Student Films Teacher Going Psycho On Him [Gawker]
Teachers Caught On Tape Bullying Special-Needs Girl [MSNBC]