If recent reports are true, the Buncombe County, North Carolina School District deserves some scrutiny for its “handling” of a recent bullying incident. The school district of Buncombe County, North Carolina, like many schools, expresses a student-oriented mission. Buncombe County even has a set of “core values,” which include: “[l]earning environments must be safe and supportive, with equity of opportunities for personal growth” and “[u]nderstanding and respecting diversity enriches the individual and the community.” The school leads the public to believe that its goal is a safe school and encourages students to immediately report bullying. The school district’s web page even refers readers to stopbullying.gov, which among other things encourages adults to “[a]ssure the child that bullying is not their fault.” At first glance, this school is doing everything right – encouraging students to embrace their unique qualities and creating a safe, bully-free environment for those students to thrive. Presumably, this would be the perfect school for Grayson Bruce, a nine year old male student who is into My Little Pony. My little pony’s slogan is “friendship is magic,” but young boys who play with My Little Ponies are often bullied. Grayson was not immune to this, as he was punched, pushed, called horrible names, and otherwise victimized when he brought his My Little Pony bag to school. Per the school policy, the bullying was reported. One would expect the school to punish the bullies or otherwise do whatever it takes for Grayson to have the opportunity to both learn and be himself. Shockingly, the school punished Grayson instead, ordering him to stop bringing the My Little Pony bag to school, under the rationale that the My Little Pony bag was the trigger for the bullies.
Luckily, other students have supported Grayson, and the support and media attention pressured the school to remedy the situation. Bullying is disgusting, and it is harmful for our society. Luckily, this author never had to experience bullying as a child or adolescent, but I understand how damaging it can be for the development of a young person. The recent focus on bullying-prevention nationwide is a positive development, and hopefully it will reduce or eliminate the phenomenon for future generations of young people.
(Hat Tip: Alias!)