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Tasmine Clement Erin Dietel- McLaughlin Community Based Writing and Rhetoric 06 June 2011 Sure This Isn’t The Way to Solve Your Problems Education in the United States is compulsory and as result most students attend either public or private schools which are divided up into three sectors: elementary, middle and high school. College allows students to optionally continue their studies under the same social conditions of any other educational institution where people have the opportunity to learn together. Great experiences and bad ones come with the interactions that these students face everyday. Bullying is something that everyone encounters some point in his/her life. It can take the form of direct bullying where the victim may be pushed to the floor or indirect where a group of girls may spread rumors about another (Thomas). According to Tom Marshis, a child psychiatrist, “in both situations bullies and victims tend to suffer higher levels of depression and other mental health problems throughout their lives” (School Bullying). People end up getting hurt, going to the extent of committing suicide, while others have their lives ruined by being involved in situations that could easily be solved if only they knew what to do. One of the most recent instances is of Tyler Clementi in 2010. Clementi was a college student who committed suicide after his roommate posted an intimate video of him and his male partner online. This incident captured the problems with online bullying based on sexual orientation and how one person decided to take the situation into his own hands by killing himself. Clementi’s bully faces hate crime charges, invasion of privacy and bias intimidation as

Clement 2 courts decide to deal with the bullying and death of Clementi (Mulvihill). And as a result, of Clementi’s death and many like his, some states are trying to decrease, if not eliminate bullying by implementing bullying laws at all levels of education and mandating anti-bullying programs (Hu). Obviously bullying has become such a huge problem that now governments are trying to deal with the situation. One of the first objections to anti-bullying laws is that legally punishing a bully is excessively harsh. Opponents go straight to thinking of a six-year-old going to jail for pushing their classmate when most elementary school students aren’t even of age to be found criminally liable. It is the older generation like that of Clementi’s bully who was in college and old enough to understand that what he was doing was wrong who face legal punishment. Contrary to what some people believe bullying laws don’t just mean that someone goes to jail if they tease someone else. These laws are set into place to help the bullies and the victims. For example, in Jersey, “the new law will require training for most public school teachers, administrators and other employees on how to spot bullying and mandate that all districts form a school safety team to review complaints. School districts would be graded by the state on their efforts to combat the problem. Administrators who do not investigate reported incidents of bullying would be disciplined… School employees would also be required to report all incidents they learn of, whether they took place in or outside of school” (Friedman, Considine). The point being to protect all students from lives filled with violence. Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, from Jersey, said, "I also hope when they go to school they have a sense of safety and be free from being intimidated or harassed” (Friedman, Considine).

Clement 3 If we have learned anything from the reoccurring instances of violence in our schools it is that violence should be prevented at all levels of education so that the young people of America aren’t perpetrators or victims of cruel events that could have easily been prevented. Knowing how to deal with conflict is a part of the learning process. We must do our job of teaching young people that treating each other is bad rather than just telling them that it is wrong and watching them do the same thing over and over. If methods such as corporal punishment and suspensions are replaced with educational programs and laws that require training for teachers and faculty, there will be a decrease in instances of bullying and deaths resulting from violent behavior in schools. What’s wrong with suspensions? They are a reward for bad behavior. Students that are suspended get to spend time at home, as if on vacation and more time out of the classroom. There are various forms of punishments. Out of school suspensions require the students to be sent home and if they return to school while on dismissal they will be considered trespassers resulting in arrests. If suspensions are eliminated parents won’t have to worry about taking time off from work to care for their child. It stops them from taking care of the rest of the family to put their time on hold to care for one individual. They may also be embarrassed that their child wasn’t behaving and that they have to watch him/her. Secondly, for those parents that can’t afford to take time off of work to watch their child, they may leave them at home alone, unsupervised, running the risk of having them get into more trouble. Naysayers would argue that that not all students that are suspended are forced to leave the school. Some students are given in-house suspensions that allow them to remain in school while on punishment (“In-School”). This is a more beneficial form of punishment as the students get to continue their studies while not running the danger of being unsupervised at

Clement 4 home. Students are also placed in an isolated room that separates them from other students so that they don’t reap the benefits of recess with their friends or socialization with their peers. The punishment of doing work all day in a school environment and not having other people to interact with besides the teacher is a substantial punishment as almost every young child wants the opportunity to socialize with their peers. Isolating these students in rooms away from their peers also doesn’t teach them how to treat other people. Since when has solitary confinement been productive for growing youth? Decreasing the interactional time makes students ignorant to the feelings of others and how other people should be treated. Students also become confused about how to treat others when their educational environment allows for corporal punishment. Even though the trend to ban corporal punishment in schools continues to grow, it remains legal in nineteen. Every year in the United States, at least 220,000 children in public schools are subjected to corporal punishment (Impairing Education). There are even more students if the number of those that receive corporal punishment in private schools are included. In the educational atmosphere it isn’t an enlightened way of teaching students how to solve problems. Instead, it lowers the child’s self-esteem by having them beat publicly. It also teaches students that problems can be solved through violent means. Children become confused about when and when not to use violence. Is it used only against a child or when someone has done something wrong? Others would claim that corporal punishment is a cost-effective way to discipline students and if parents agree then there should be no problem. Some schools districts don’t have non-violent programs like after-school detention because busing for later hours would be too expensive. One teacher pointed out that “corporal punishment can be considered 'cost-effective. It's free, basically. You don't have to be organized. All you need is a paddle ” (qtd. in Stephey).

Clement 5 A student who got to comment on paddling as a form of punishment stated, “We couldn’t have after school detention. There was no busing” (qtd. in Stephey). Schools would run the risk of putting the students in danger if they had to find other ways to get home during the late evening hours. Also, if parents support corporal punishment as a form of discipline, then why shouldn’t it be used in schools? Even though parents have agreed to have their students paddled in schools some of them end up regretting it after finding out that their child has been abused in the process. Students that have disabilities receive corporal punishment at disproportionally high rates. In Tennessee, for example, students with disabilities are punishment at more than twice the rate of the general student population (Impairing Education). Yes, some parents may agree but they are not always able to neither see the violence nor protect their children from violent discipline in school. Not all schools report every instance of punishment and sometimes children aren’t able to see the violence against them. Parents may even hear that their child is being hurt but may not realize how bad until the child comes home with bruises. Students can get serious injuries from being hit. Deena. S.’s middle school son was badly bruised from paddling: “They were deep bruises. Not marks. They measured three inches by four inches in the center of the bruises it was kind of cleat. They ended up turning real dark. This wasn’t just a little red mark, this was almost black” (qtd. in Impairing Education). Another problem with corporal punishment is that faculty may beat a student and have no knowledge or training on the way to deal with a student’s disability. Teachers also need to realize that inflicting corporal punishment on students even if it may not seem like it comes with the possibility that they will anger a student or even a parent to seek revenge. Teachers then become vulnerable to lawsuits and even violent behavior from the students and parents.

Clement 6 Educational programs are a relatively new way to help students understand that violence is not an appropriate behavior in handling conflict. They are better than the former ideas because they try and solve the problem without confusing the child about when to and when not to use violence. A relatively popular program D.A.R.E., Drug Abuse Resistance Education, uses local police officers that are trained to handle students in the classroom to give a 10-week curriculum, which includes self-defense and assertiveness. The DARE program has grown so much over just the past 28 years that it has moved from Los Angeles to become a global action plan (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). Like D.A.R.E., Take Ten is an outreach project in the elementary, middle and high school levels but has only been in existence for a little more than a decade. It takes college students from around the South Bend, Indiana area and uses them to encourage students from the elementary to high schools levels to “Talk it out, walk it out, wait it out” rather than engaging in violent behavior. “Take ten deep breaths instead of saying something that hurts; take ten steps back rather than getting involved in a fight; and take ten seconds to cool off instead of using something as a weapon” (TAKE TEN). TAKE TEN is a short positive phrase that provides children with a common language to demonstrate their choice for nonviolence (TAKE TEN). Students would be helped because programs like TAKE TEN and DARE teach students about the negative aspects of violent behavior and how to avoid violent situations. They also make individuals feel safer knowing that someone is there for them to talk to and they can reach out for help if they needed it. These educational programs expose students to various options in life such as attending college and becoming a police officer that will in return protect the community, seeing as the same role models right in their own neighborhoods lead them. The programs are also free to the schools and students so they don’t have to worry about spending

Clement 7 any money on helping the students gain positive techniques in handling themselves and situations with other people. The programs help bullies understand that what they are doing is wrong and has consequences and it also helps the people being bullied find a way to deal with their problems. Finally, the programs take place during school hours allowing the students to remain in a social environment and while the teachers make sure that the students don’t miss any work. The next program, the Syracuse University Violence Prevention Project, has been in existence for over ten years advocating schools to “integrate violence prevention and conflict resolution education in the fabric of the school” (Burstyn, et al). The leaders of this project argue that, “If we… cannot handle disputes nonviolently, we will soon destroy the fabric of democracy in the United States” as stated in Preventing Violence in Schools which was written by several professors that administered workshops for teachers and administrators on ways to prevent violence in schools. This opinion differs from mine in that it builds upon my ideas by requesting that teachers incorporate violence prevention techniques into the entire curriculum and everyday lives of students rather than just as “add-on” sessions where a few minutes are taken to address violence. And just how people’s ideas evolve so must the ways that violence is handled in schools. Since the creation of educational systems, expelling a student from school and beating them with a paddle has been used as a way to deal with students that exhibit violent behavior through means of bullying and ruining what should be a positive school environment for all. The world is constantly changing and that means we can’t use the same methods to dictate how we handle wrongdoers that are now using new forms of technology such as the Internet to be a danger to others. We can’t beat children knowing that it sends them conflicting

Clement 8 messages. The best options for the safety of all our youth and our educational system is to do away with methods such as corporal punishment and suspensions and replace them with educational programs and laws that help everyone involved in the framework of the school from students to teachers and faculty. In doing so there will be a decrease in instances of bullying and deaths resulting from violent behavior in schools.

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Works Cited American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch. Impairing Education: Corporal Punishment of Students with Disabilities in US Public Schools. New York, NY: Human Rights Watch, 2009. Print. Burstyn, Joan N., Geoff Bender, Ronnie Casella, Howard W. Gordon, Domingo P. Guerra, Kristen V. Luschen, Rebecca Stevens, and Kimberly M. Williams. Preventing Violence in Schools: a Challenge to American Democracy. New Jersey: L. Erlbaum Associates, 2001. Print. "Drug Abuse Resistance Education." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia Foundation. Web. 10 Nov. 2011. <>. Friedman, Matt and Bob Considine. "N.J. Gov. Christie Approves Toughest Anti-bullying Law in the Country.”, 07 Jan. 2011. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. <>. "In-School Suspension." Program Monitoring and Evaluation. Leon County Schools. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. Hu, Winnie. "Bullying Law Puts New Jersey Schools on Spot." New York Times 31 Aug. 2011, New York ed.: A18. New York Times. 30 Aug. 2011. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. Mulvihill, Geoff. "Dharun Ravi's Trial Date Set In Tyler Clementi Suicide." Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 20 Oct. 2011. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. <>.

Clement 10 "School Bullying Affects Majority Of Elementary Students.” Science Daily: News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology. Science Daily, 12 Apr. 2007. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. <>. Stephey, M.J. "Corporal Punishment in U.S. Schools.” TIME Magazine. Time Mag., 12 Aug. 2009. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. <,8599,1915820,00.html>. "TAKE TEN." Robinson Community Learning Center // University of Notre Dame. University of Notre Dame. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. <>. Thomas, Robert. Murray. "Suggestions for School Practice.” What Schools Ban and Why. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008. 133-35. Print.

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