Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (Jan. 26) – A law was passed in 2003 requiring the school board to create a policy to stop bullying in public schools. More than three years later, it's getting around to drafting such a policy, but only after recent incidents of violence in the schools have made headlines.

The Guam Education Policy Board must ensure that its policy is sound and specific; vague generalities won't work for such an important issue. It must apply throughout the school system, and the punishments must be standard and appropriate.

Beyond that, what's needed is a mechanism for enforcement. How will the board ensure that school system administrators are implementing the policy in the public schools? What will be done with principals, other administrators and teachers who fail to follow the policy correctly? Because if there is no authority to enforce accountability, the effort is useless.

If there are no consequences for failure, there won't be any change.

And we as a community must acknowledge the responsibility of parents in bullying incidents. Parents are the first line of defense against this problem; if children are raised to be upstanding, moral citizens who do the right thing, there won't be a bullying problem.

This means parents must not only teach their children these lessons, but must model this behavior for their kids. The "do as I say, not as I do" approach doesn't work; children have no incentive to act right if their parents don't.

And perhaps we, as a society, need to find a way to make parents responsible if their child bullies others. If a child breaks into a school and destroys property, or sprays graffiti on a wall and is found guilty, then that child's parents are liable for the damage caused. Similar accountability measures must be instituted for violent acts.

There are no short-term fixes to bullying. But we can take steps toward eliminating it, while making sure that until that happens, this type of behavior is properly and adequately punished.

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