Open Thread: Bullying Outlawed in Ridgefield — Maybe

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According to the Star-Ledger today, Ridgefield may be the first town in New Jersey to outlaw bullying.  Since September, schools already by law have to investigate any bullying that is reported- but “that is reported” language could lead to loopholes.    The rule in Ridgefield  is intended, among other things, to clarify how to report bullying. The suicide of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi brought the issue into focus.

In October, an anti-bullying rule was floated by Montclair councilor Renee Baskerville to make saying bad things about town council members a firing offense.  The ordinance was pulled, but there was a resolution about niceness (“establishing rules, policies and procedures pertaining to civility and professional conduct”).

Here’s your open thread.  Talk about bullying, school rules, town councils, whatever you like– just be nice (no bullying in the bullying thead!).   What do you think, can rules stop bullying? Or what do you think is most effective?

9 COMMENTS

  1. Accusations of bullying now goes on the child’s permanent record. My understanding it is also reported to the county/state. The person accused is not even allowed to know who is accusing him. This opens the door for finger pointing and getting even. Bullying is wrong but I don’t trust some 25 yr old college grad trying to determine the situation from he said she said accusations. There is too much to risk (on both sides) I’m not sure what the answer is but this is entering dangerous territory.

  2. herb, your paranoia is charming, but off.

    Incidents of bullying are indeed reported to the state by each district. Students are identified by number, and names are not released to the public or to any entity likes schools, employers, etc. Any determination of bullying that is made by a school official can be made only after an investigation by that official. That of course requires that the identity of the person making the claim is most certainly known to the “accused”. How else could that person defend him/herself against the charge?

    As for the “permanent record”, a student who is suspended will have that suspension noted in his/her file, but that does not follow the student anywhere. The only exception to this would be if the student was convicted of a felony. Virtually all of these matters are sealed.

    There is a lot to hate about this law. I think that it is a ridiculous waste of resources and time and that it is going over ground already covered by most sensible school policies and, for that matter, criminal code. But it is interesting that Chris Christie, hero to the right wing and defender of the individual against the state, was the main impetus behind it.

    Go figure.

  3. I agree with you it’s insane but if 3 students (or more) are involved in an incident, when the parents gets a copy of the report everyone’s name is deleted except their concerned party. In the words of Baretta “and you can take dat to the bank”.

  4. Kids these days need to walk on eggshells lest they run the risk of permanently derailing their academic opportunities. My friend lived in mortal fear that his son who had been accepted on an early decision basis at an extremely competitive college would get caught with beer or some equally heinous crime as an 18 year old, thereby causing the school to rescind his acceptance. Almost as bad, he said that local parents of any rejected or waitlisted children would no-doubt make sure that any local press stories would not go unnoticed by the admissions department….

  5. If it is an “incident” and your child is involved, herb, then he or she can tell you who the others are.

    If it is an accusation of harassment, etc. then the complaining party has to come forward.

    You can take that to the bank, as well.

  6. In a related story, former Speaker Newt Gingrich has lambasted the liberal-communist-fascist-socialist-treehugging, gay-loving, Rio Grande fence hating, NRA hating, EPA loving and abortion-loving juggernaut of being
    illegal, rigged, and unpatriotic Bullies of the sort found in Chicago politics ( and virtually non-existent in goodly places like Texas)

    On what grounds? By steamrolling over the rights of decent, God fearing, white, heartland Christians during the Christmas season, in a blatant, flagrant, shameless act of large-scale Kenyan anti-colonialist harassment and Bullying (that “B” word again) against Man, God, States’ Rights, the NRA, Fox News, the US Constitution, and the right to pig out at Mickey D’s so long as Obamacare picks up the tab.

  7. In my childhood, bullies were inevitable, a fact of life you couldn’t get away from. (Male bullies, that is; I have no idea if “mean girls” also functioned in similar ways.)

    So whzt you did, basically, was learn to avoidm sidestep, evade, even placate them as necessary. Until you got bigger and stronger yourself. Or, better yet, make friends with someone bigger and tougher and with decent instincts.

    A few guys also got boxing lessons from their dads and the PAL (which served as a feeder route to the Golden Gloves back then) and, a bit later on, jujitsu or karate lessons.

    None of these things ever solved the problem completely. (A few guys I grew up actually became low-level organized functionaries or members of bike clubs. which are more or less the same thing, as adults.) But all were also surely better than codifying the matter as Ridgefield is attempting to do. But then, too, there exists out there an entire “establishment” of so-called counselors, advisers and what-have-you, all of whom seem to exist solely to mulct every dollar they can from the age-old matter of bullying. This is not exactly progress, folks, and all such folk strike me as less-than-well-mesning, however earnest-acting, phonies.

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