The Albany Journal has done a lot of things since it was founded in 1939. It’s best known as the town “scandal rag”, where anything and everything was fair game. It’s been the community watchdog, its most recent incarnation. Due to various circumstances, we’ve gotten a bit away from that last one.
Well, we’re back in that role, and taking on a new emphasis on bullying in schools.
Dustin Hammonds was pronounced dead yesterday. He had been on life support since he had tried to take his own life, all in an effort to be able to save other children’s lives by donating Dustin’s organs. He was already gone, unfortunately.
However, Dustin wasn’t the first victim. Nor will he be the last, I’m afraid. Bullying is a serious social problem, and it’s not anything new. It’s just gotten worse.
Recent news has been filled with stories of teens who, after enduring bullying, took their own life. While it’s vital to teach young people that suicide isn’t the answer, we must also look at those who torment others to such extremes. Bullying children often grow up into bullying adults. Many of these bullies grow up to abuse their spouses and children. Many of them create hostile work environments for their coworkers.
The truth is, the ramifications of bullying go on for far longer than high school. There is a real socioeconomic cost to bullying, and it’s beyond time that we, the communities, begin doing all we can to combat this.
Well, we’re going to start right here. I’m not about to pass the buck onto other people and consider myself a paragon of virtue because I told people what I thought they needed to hear. No, we are going to start right here!
Hence forth, the schools of Southwest Georgia should put themselves on notice. We, The Albany Journal, will be holding them accountable for the protection of students during school hours. We will be publishing our Bully-A-Day stories until we just flat run out of them. We will not edit the school names, unless specifically requested by the parent. Even then, we will strongly urge these parents to leave the school name.
Not only that, but we will be delving into the anti-bullying procedures of area school systems, and then we plan to rip them apart. This is not maliciousness on our part, but an honest effort to find and publicize the flaws in the current system. We want to draw awareness to these problems so that we can find better solutions.
Thousands of kids are being bullied across this nation as you read this very column. They are being tormented. It’s past time that we, the adults of this nation, start to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Our children deserve no less.