Administrators, students take bullying seriously

Bullying has become an even more hot topic among many schools since Missouri’s toughening of the laws on harassment in January. However, bullying was already a problem taken quite seriously by the district.
As defined by district superintendent Dr. Shawn Poyser, “bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. The key phrase is repeated and over time.”
When an act of bullying occurs to a students here at Warsaw High, students are required to fill out a formal bullying form, that lists when, where, over what period of time and how it is occurring.
“We take everything seriously. Principals investigate and take statements if necessary. We try to educate our students, deal with issues immediately, model for them and use corrective discipline when bullying takes place,” Poyser said.
In certain cases where a third degree assault were to take place, law enforcement must be contacted.
Third degree assault for schools consist of physically harming students, bus drivers, health professionals, teachers, administrators and all other guests to the school.
According to a Jan. 6, Washington Post article, a change in the Missouri law (which went into effect in January) that changes the crime of harassment from a misdemeanor to a felony could affect how bullying is viewed. Washington Post writer Alejandra Matos reported, “harassment previously was defined in six specific ways, including making threats or repeated unwanted communication. Under the new law, harassment is broadly defined as any act that ‘causes emotional distress.’” This has some worried that, in Missouri, this could take control from the schools with these issues and students may be charged with a felony and may even face jail time for bullying.
Senior Noah Long said that jail time seemed extreme for most cases of bullying.
“Now, if part of the bullying does break the law by infringing on someone else’s rights then lawful action should take place. This is a sensitive topic only for the fact that each case needs to be handled individually. There is not a one size fits all answer for any bullying situation,” Long said.
However, the Education Exchange Corps says the impact of the law change on children is low.
“However, because harassment can be prosecuted as a felony, kids could technically be certified to stand trial as an adult within the juvenile system. But that result is highly unlikely due to the law’s definition and how juvenile justice work,” a flyer from the Education Exchange Corps said.
Some say “bullying” is a term that is used quite frequently without a person fully understanding.
“I think bullying is a word that is sometimes overused. I think a better term is not treating one another with respect and/or treating each other nicely or how we want to be treated. I think that is a problem throughout society. If it happens once it is a problem,” Poyser said.
“First off, you may feel you are bullied but the person may not know that they are hurting you. Or vice versa, you may not know that you are hurting someone with the things you do or say,” Long said.
Others don’t think it is taken seriously enough.
“I do think that the term bullying is used too freely because sometimes it is just thrown around like it’s no big deal,” sophomore Rylee Pals said.
Administrators say students can easily help stop bullying by showing a little bit of kindness.
“Be a role model and stand up for people that you think are being bullied, not in a violent manner, but just let people know that’s not how we treat people at Warsaw High School. Report it when you see it or think it’s going on and treat each other with respect and try and do your part to make Warsaw High School the greatest school in America,” principal Randy Luebbert said.