Advocate Editorial Board opinion: District is right to teach kids their value
By the Advocate Editorial Board
June 17, 2014 at 1:17 a.m.
WHAT IS BULLYING?
The state of Texas defines bullying as something that occurs when a student or group of students engages in written or verbal expression through electronic methods or physical conduct against another student on school property, at a school-sponsored or related activity or in a district-operated vehicle and the behavior:
• Results in harm to the student or a student's property;
• Places a student in reasonable fear of physical harm or of damage to the student's property or
• Is so severe, persistent and pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment.
This conduct is considered bullying if it exploits an imbalance of power between the student perpetrators and the student victim and if it interferes with a student's education or substantially disrupts the operation of a school.
Bullying is a word that comes up far too often. In previous years, bullying was something that happened in the school yard or in other face-to-face interactions. But today, with the 24/7 flow of information through the Internet, bullying has invaded areas that were once safe.
That is why it is so critical to teach children to value themselves for who they are, no matter what others do or say about them. The Victoria Independent School District has become one of only nine districts in Texas that will be taking part in the radKIDS program during the school year, district communications director Diane Boyett said. The radKIDS program focuses on teaching kids how to defend themselves and is built on three main principles: No one has the right to hurt a child; no child has the right to hurt others; and if someone does hurt a child, being hurt is not the child's fault. The program covers more than just bullying. It also addresses safety, substance abuse resistance, abduction, assault and abuse.
While parents have expressed concerns in recent weeks about bullying in VISD, the 40 hours of training for teachers was not brought in as a response to those concerns, Boyett said. The program was actually in response to the visit of Elizabeth Smart, a kidnapping victim from Utah who spoke at the DeTar Healthy Women Conference last September. Smart has become an advocate for the program and spoke about it during her visit.
The training was taught by Steve Daley, a former police officer and physical resistance to violence advocate, over four days from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and most of the cost for the class was underwritten by DeTar Healthcare System. The program will be taught year-round in VISD schools during physical education classes and counseling block sessions, Boyett said. Parents will also receive a safety manual to help reinforce the concepts at home.
We applaud VISD and DeTar Healthcare System for working together to provide this crucial training for teachers to pass on to their students. Every student has the right to a safe, quality education, and this training is equipping them to properly respond to a variety of situations and reinforcing their sense of self-worth.
Thank you to VISD for continuing to provide training for the teachers and staff members who are in charge of our children every day. We look forward to seeing the effects of this latest training in the classroom. When children are empowered and encouraged, what were once insurmountable obstacles become minor problems, and students can reach whole new levels of confidence and achievement.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.