Bullying has unfortunately become a staple topic in coming of age stories and young adult fiction. If your child is the victim, bullying is an especially sensitive topic.
Showing of the movie “Bully” at the OK Theatre last Thursday was an emotional moment. Steve Tool’s front page story describes the scene. It also tells the story of a local boy’s experience in Wallowa County schools.
Enterprise High School freshman Jadon Garland showed courage in bringing this movie to the OK Theatre. Students from all three districts attended. So did Enterprise Police Chief Joel Fish. But Tool reports that school administrators were absent.
In other school districts, administrators have moved against the culture of bullying. When the racial mix of Astoria High School shifted in the 1990s, administrators noted an increase in bullying. The principal, Larry Lockett, created a Diversity Day, capped by an all-school assembly. It had a tangible effect. The school continues to celebrate student diversity, defining that in many ways.
There is value in putting a name on the elephant in the middle of the school hallway. There is no value in denying the existence of that elephant.
Throughout the cultural history of postwar America, there have been moments when sensitive topics were dragged out of the shadows. During her three years as first lady, Betty Ford talked openly about having breast cancer, and her revelation generated a marked increase in women getting breast exams. Similarly, Mrs. Ford changed our culture by publicly admitting to substance abuse. Then she founded the Betty Ford Clinic. Today we talk openly about alcoholism and drug addiction.
Bullying is dangerous to young people. Schools must talk about it openly.