Bullying of Children With Disabilities - Postscript II

Centennial Fountain, Seattle University. From ...Centennial Fountain, Seattle University. From left to right in the background Garrand Hall (School of Nursing), Administration Building, Piggot Hall (Albers School of Business). The fountain was designed by Seattle artist George Tsutakawa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I have mentioned here, at the recent excellent conference at Seattle University, I was lucky enough to present a half-day session on Bullying and IDEA. It is rare to get to discuss these important topics in such depth, and I thank the Institute as well as the participants who were incredibly helpful during the presentation.

In a previous post, I mentioned our detailed discussion of the definition of bullying.  In this post, I'm going to summarize our discussion of the public policy question. (Yes, there is a reason why I got that masters degree in public policy after all.)

Some participants questioned whether the school districts should have a role in bullying, ie is there a government interest?   Most participants felt that bullying, which as we know from the definition requires a power imbalance, requires intervention. A number of participants, however, felt that dealing with bullies is one of the life lessons that one has to learn.  They pointed out their own school bullies, as well as judge bullies and others in later life.  We also discussed our popular culture images regarding this issue.  Pick almost any movie with bullies and the victim eventually gets ticked off and does in the bad guy.  The best example is "A Christmas Story," the popular Christmas movie in which Farkus bullies Ralphie until one day he gets possessed and beats the heck out of him while imitating his father's bad language.  Most other movie involving bullies have a similar plot line.

But most participants felt that bullying is different because of the power imbalance.  What do you think? What exactly is the role of government, here the school district, with respect to bullying?
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