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Ask the Patch Pros: About Bullying in Iowa

If you or your children have seen bullying in school or online, tell us your story, join in the conversation or ask for advice from our panel.


Bullying, in schools and online, has become a hot-button issue recently, with  and the recent release of the documentary Bully, featuring a Sioux Falls boy.

The to participate in a panel discussion on bullying, and one of the messages they had for the community was that bullying does not exist in a vacuum. It takes a community conversation to begin to truly address it.

That is what this article seeks to do: start a conversation. We're asking for your comments and questions about bullying, and our panelists will respond and offer their insight.

Leave your questions and comments below.


Some of the members on our panel are:

Derek Hannah, Youth Sports Director at the Walnut Creek YMCA.

Linn-Mar High School student Matt Shankles was the subject of bullying after coming out as gay, but he has  rather than give in.

Officer Jessica Jensen, School Resource Officer for the Johnston Community School District.

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld, Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Iowa State University

Jen Alexander, School Counselor at Hansen Elementary in Cedar Falls.

Officer Mackenzie Sposeto, school resource officer in the Waukee school district.

Please feel free to jump in to the conversation at any time. Patch editors will be monitoring and moderating the comment stream.

Derek Hannah May 11, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Dealing with adult bullying in sports is difficult. You obviously can't correct an adult like you would a young person. If the situation suggests it, it's best to have an official (referee, umpire, Athletic Director, etc) who has the authority to warn parents or remove them from the grounds talk to the bully. If that's not an option, it can be really tough. That's why you don't see these adult bullies stood up to all that often. I have tried to remind people that it's just a game and it's for kids. If the players are in high school or older, there's not much that seems appropriate if you don't have authority at the venue. I suppose asking the bully why the players play (fun!) or asking them if they realize what they're doing ("You're being a bully") COULD work.. or it could make it worse. My first attempt to thwart such a bully would be to cheer in encouragement, addressing the negatives that the bully commented on in hopes of them realizing what they're doing without you directly calling them out. "It's alright Billy, we're just here to have fun, you're doing fine!" Sure, it's a little passive-aggressive, but that way you might be able to quiet the bully while also supporting the kid being bullied. If it's a ref or coach being bullied, they're usually used to it and can probably block it out or just handle it. If it's over the top, usually the ref or a venue official will handle the bully. One of the reasons I don't envy referees!
Richard Johnson May 16, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Actually, that is not always the case, Chris. As a public school employee I am required by law to file a verbal report if I reasonably suspect a student in our school is being sexually/physically abused, either on premises or elsewhere. Failing to file this report results in a possible fine and prison time. In my mind bullying is abuse, and should be treated the same.
Chris Liebig May 22, 2012 at 06:05 AM
Richard -- You're right that it's not always the case, but it is the general rule, and only in special circumstances (such as in the case of teachers) does the law impose a duty on people to report. Kids are not school employees, and I don't think they should be punished for not policing their classmates' conduct. The exceptions are fine, but they should remain the exceptions, and not become the rule.
Juanita January 25, 2013 at 04:51 AM
Are there pros for the victim being bullied???
Warren J. Blumenfeld January 25, 2013 at 05:01 AM
Juanita, "Pros" here stand for "professionals," and not "pros" as in "pros and cons." Best, Warren Blumenfeld

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