By Rich Winter
On a chilly Thursday morning, Todd County Middle School Principal Dana Haukaas is sifting through a pile of screen-shots that her students have turned into her, showing what they think is bullying behavior by one of their classmates.
While the job of pouring over Facebook screen-shots isn’t all consuming, Haukaas says 98 percent of the cases she deals with are coming from cyber-bullying on the internet.
While bullying is something that happens, and happens all too often, the very act of bullying can be misunderstood, overused and perpetuated from kids who may not even know why they’re bullying.
While some incidents of bullying are caught, dealt with and appropriately handled, bullying can and does have deadly consequences.
A 14-year old Indiana girl who hung herself in front of a bus stop so her bullies could see her - Why did I deserve this pain?…Have you ever thought about what you said to me? huh… maybe not! because you killed me every day…. You told me so much that I started believing it. And I was stupid for doing that. Every morning, day, night I look in the mirror and cry, and replay the harmful words in my head.
P.S. it’s bullying that killed me. Please get justice.
12-year old jumped to her death...I’m jumping, I can’t take it anymore.
Upon learning of Rebecca’s suicide, 14-year-old Guadalupe Shaw – the alleged ringleader of the “Mean Girls” gang allied against Rebecca – posted the following on Facebook:
Yes ik I bullied REBECCA and she killed her self but IDGAF
Shaw and a 12-year-old accomplice were arrested and charged with aggravated stalking.
St. Francis Indian School
While the above mentioned incidents are extreme examples, educators within the Todd County School District and St. Francis School District are surprised by the number of bullying incidents and just how quickly they can escalate.
The very act of bullying, according to Haukaas seems to get muddied with students, parents and others failing to understand the difference between bullying and conflict.
“With bullying, there is a power in-balance...It’s usually people that can’t stand up for themselves or having a hard time doing that,” Haukaas said. “Conflict is when we’re equally engaged...I say something, you say something back, and then I get my friends involved and you get your friends involved. In that case it’s a conflict and not bullying.”
Over the next few week’s the Todd County Tribune will bring you an exclusive look at bullying, how it’s affecting our children and how we can take a look at our own behavior and perhaps adjust accordingly to put a dent in bullying behavior.
Part 11 tells the bullying story from the students point of view.