Wednesday, September 19, 2018
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20180327 BulyArt 0015When he was 14 years old, a Sharyland Pioneer High School student was shocked to hear of the Orlando Pulse shooting, where a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub and killed nearly 50 people and injured 58 others two year ago.

 

For the student, who will be called Roger to protect his identity, the reaction he saw of the shooting from a friend was almost as horrifying.

 

“She publicly posted on Facebook how she didn’t see the shooting as a tragedy because all the victims were gay people,” Roger said of the post, which he said came from a friend of his mother who attends the same church he and his family go to. “It felt very insensitive and it hurt to see someone proudly proclaiming that the lives of gay people don’t matter, especially coming from an adult I know and respect.”

 

Roger, who identifies as gay, told this story Tuesday during a staff development meeting at Pioneer High School where teachers and administrators at the campus met to discuss the importance of sensitivity to address issues of bullying in the classroom.

 

Roger hopes teachers take that lesson to heart.

 

“If kids aren’t supposed to know what kind of effect they have on others when they bully a peer, it can be even more devastating if an adult does something similar or don’t understand how to talk to students about it,” Roger said. “I hope the adults here gain a new perspective on how to handle bullying.”

 

According to the Anti-Bullying Institute, one in seven students across the country have been a victim of bullying with many of those bullying victims going on to commit an act of violence later in life. The institute states that 75 percent of shooting incidents in schools have been linked to a form of bullying or harassment.

 

The discussion comes after the deadly shooting at a Florida high school where a former student killed 17 individuals at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February.

 

According to the Miami Herald, the shooter was bullied by a relative and showed signs of mental illness after displaying several erratic outbursts at school that scared his classmates.

 

For Pioneer Art Teacher Irma Garcia, she hopes stories like that from “Roger” will help prevent more incidents like that at Marjory Stoneman.

 

“It feels like all the shootings happening right now are the result of bullying which studies have shown can create mental disorders and contribute to shootings,” Garcia said. “If we don’t do something about this, then it’s not enough to save someone.”

 

According to Garcia, usually the district focuses on just reaching out to students on the effect of bullying during National Bullying Prevention Month in October. Garcia, however, feels like that’s not enough and says that this discussion if the first of many the campus plans on having on bullying prevention.

 

With the staff discussion, Garcia said she hopes to make it easier for students to talk about adults if they’re being bullied.

 

“It’s not enough to just reach out to the kids on the effect of bullying, it has to start at the top,” she said. “ We want the teachers to understand they are capable of making comments that can negatively affect a student, sometimes, even we as adults don’t understand that but hopefully it creates a dialogue between students and teachers.”

 

The campus will also be displaying artwork from Garcia’s current and former students depicting the effects of bullying.

 

The paintings will be displayed at the Pioneer Library for a month, Librarian Janie Flores said.

 

“I want people seeing this artwork to see the kids are hurting,” Flores said. “The ones who need to see this know who they are. They need to see the kids being bullied are people too.”

 

Flores noted that Tuesday’s presentation on bullying geared toward adults was the first of its kind for the district.

 

“Hopefully we’ll see kids and adults being more sensitive to each other and understand the importance of about tolerance as well as issues that make kids different,” Flores said.