Park incident believed to be result of bullyingBullying can start with teasing, a rumor or a keystroke. It can result in injury, social or emotional distress, depression and even death.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Bullying can start with teasing, a rumor or a keystroke. It can result in injury, social or emotional distress, depression and even death.
On Sept. 22, an incident at the park on the corner of Oakes Avenue and North 18th Street led to a 10-year-old girl being beaten so severely that she was transported by ambulance to a local hospital. The 10-year-old boy accused of stomping on her back and leaving her with internal bruising and a possible concussion has been referred to the juvenile intake office.
The girl said she stepped in to stop the 11-year-old from picking on his sibling. The violence escalated from the use of a marshmallow gun to rock and mud throwing by both children, according to the Superior police report. Then the 11-year-old pushed the victim down and kicked her about 10 times. He “stomped on her back,” the victim’s mother said. She plans to pursue charges for the incident.
Superior police don’t keep specific data on park incidents.
“I personally don’t recall a lot of violence or disturbance calls at parks when I was on in patrol and do not read about many now, but I am sure there are sporadic incidents such as this one,” said Superior Deputy Chief Nick Alexander. He said that parental supervision in parks can play a role in preventing or defusing such incidents. Adults driving or walking by could also help break up such a situation.
“I would think a passerby should at a minimum call 911,” he said. “An adult getting out of a car and saying knock it off might influence kids to stop.”
Through education and policies, the Superior school district deals with bullying head-on. Bullying occurs at all ages, from kindergarten through 12th grade, according to Monica Tikkanen, human resource director for the district. It includes belittling, ostracizing, sexual harassment, cyber bullying and more.
“If it makes a child less happy in school, we deal with it,” Tikkanen said. The goal is to stop bullying, but there is no one recipe to do so.
Children are taught the core values of “work, respect, belong.” Teachers are trained how to squelch harassment. Consequences of bullying can include reprimands and suspension, up to expulsion, according to the district policies.
“And we’ve done it,” Tikkanen said. Parents can even be fined, she said. But schools can’t stop bullying alone.
“It has to start in the home,” Tikkanen said. “What children see happen is what they mirror back to us. It starts at home; it starts with family.”
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a time to stomp out bullying in schools, parks, online and at home. A 2008-2009 school crime supplement indicated 28 percent of students in grades 6-12 nationwide experienced bullying, according to stopbullying.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in a 2011 nationwide survey 20 percent of high school students reported being bullied in the past 12 months; an estimated 16 percent reported they were bullied electronically over that same period.
“I tend to think that regular bullying and cyber go hand-in-hand,” Alexander said. “The same kids being picked on in the hallways are then picked on online when school is out.”
As part of bullying prevention month, the organization STOMP Out Bullying is encouraging young people to be part of the solution.
Next week, for example, kids are asked to make friends with someone at school they don’t know.
Adults can be fight bullying, too, whether teaching by example, stepping in to defuse situations they see or supervising children. The mother of the victim in the Sept. 22 incident said she was shocked by how violent someone so young could be. And she said when problems occur, she would like to see parents just talk to each other about their children’s behavior without yelling.
For more information on bullying, go to www.stompoutbullying.org or www.