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home : opinions : our views August 22, 2017

8/9/2017 11:44:00 AM
Parents need to take responsibility
Brooke Bechen
Reporter/News and Features

Last week I read a terrible story about a 12-year-old girl who committed suicide after being bullied, primarily cyberbullied, by a couple of classmates at her school. It breaks my heart to know the parents of this girl had to bury a child - a very young child at that.
But later I learned that the parents of the girl were planning to sue the school district in which the girl attended, alleging "gross negligence" relating to the handling of bullying received by their daughter. Although I feel sympathy for these parents, who are surely trying to find answers, I don't think suing the school district is the proper response to this tragedy.
Beginning last October, the parents explained to local media that their daughter had been the subject of cyberbullying through Snapchat, Instagram and text messages; it appears most of this cyberbullying took place off school grounds. The parents also claim that their daughter received constant "dirty looks" and was made to feel excluded by classmates at school.
The young girl told her parents of the bullying, and her parents then contacted the school. The principal was informed, and the parents of the accused bullies were contacted. The mother claims that at least one parent of an alleged bully laughed the bullying off and didn't take the claims seriously, which is extremely alarming to me.
Although I am not yet a parent, I understand we are living in a day and age where parents seem to think their children can do no wrong, that they are perfect angels exempt from making poor decisions. Today's parents need to face reality - and the reality is that their child could be a bully. And if they are indeed bullying others, these parents need to take responsibility and confront their children about this matter in a way that it cannot be just "laughed off." There needs to be consequences, and they need to be enforced by parents.
This young girls' parents, who allowed their 12-year-old to access social media, even after she reported to them that she was being bullied on it, need to take some responsibility too. Personally, I don't think 12-year-olds should have Snapchat or Instagram, but again, I understand we are living in a different era - the era of the Internet.
If parents decide to let their children have social media accounts, I would hope they would feel the need to monitor them closely. I hope they would deny their children access to these accounts when they learn of bullying or misuse. But neither of these things seemed to have happened in this case - either from the girls' parents or the parents of the bullies.
Every school district has policies and procedures in place to address bullying. Every school district has resources available to inform and educate about bullying. I encourage parents to be pro-active and read about how their school district handles bullying.
School districts have a lot on their plates, and I believe they did what they could to ease the pain and make all parents aware of what had occurred in this circumstance. I believe there is only so much a school district can do - and that parents need to step up and continue where school policies and procedures leave off.

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