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Using the ‘bully’ pulpit

Adults need to work to make sure bullying never takes place

Thankfully, more attention has been given to the topic of bullying in recent years, with incidents springing up all over this country, too numerous to count and too varied to go through in this space. Inevitably, it’s found its way into high school sports, and not just in this area.

At Williamsville South, near Buffalo, a long-time basketball and golf coach, Al Monaco, was fired last month amid charges from parents that he had berated some players, one of them about his weight.

As with C-NS, there was community uproar, along with a heated defense of Monaco by former players and other parents, which forced one of the parents, a Buffalo police officer, to speak publicly about the way his son was treated – which drew withering criticism from Monaco’s supporters.

Yet it’s difficult to blame Williamsville school officials for sensitivity on the bullying issue. One year ago, a 14-year old freshman at Williamsville East High School named Jamey Rodemeyer took his own life, after he said he was bullied for a year for revealing that he was bisexual. The case drew national attention and calls for legislation to stop bullying.

Some people in power have listened. Effective July 1, the New York State Dignity for All Students Act, or DASA, protects all elementary and secondary school students from harassment, hazing and bullying, whether by peers or by adults, for any number of factors, ranging from race and gender to weight and sexual orientation.

Laws in the books are nice and important. But actions are far more effective.

So it’s up to those in positions of power and influence to take the lead. It’s up to administrators to live up to the promises of DASA and vigorously pursue bullying cases, wherever they may rise.

It’s up to teachers to be vigilant in their classrooms and root out poor behavior, especially at the elementary level, because that’s where bullying can start, over the silliest of things, and it can grow and mushroom into something far more sinister.

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