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Bullying bill has a lot of holes in it

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By The Staff

A 13-year-old gets fouled on the basketball court by another student. In turn, later that evening, he sends a Myspace message to that student, saying, "You'd better watch out. I'll get you next time."

Is that 13-year-old being a bully?

One person might say yes, another might disagree. But who's right? And what, if anything, should be done about it?

A story in Monday's News-Journal spotlighted a bill before Kentucky legislators that focuses on bullying. The bill would require school districts to have a plan in place to deal with students who are being bullies. And they're not just talking about during school hours or on school property. They're also talking about in cyberspace.

If a "bullying statement" is made at an Internet Web site on a school computer, sure, officials there should be expected to deal with it. But if it's done at home, how are school officials supposed to handle that? To think that school employees will be able to stay on top of that is simply nave.

The bullying bill would also, among other things, require school districts to provide training on the code of acceptable behavior to employees who have direct contact with students ... get this ... if funds are available.

"If funds are available." Those are some pretty heavy words. How many times have we heard that?

Here we're making rules - and holding people accountable for following them ... if there's money to do it. And we all know what the state budget looks like these days.

Education today is much more than "reading, writing and 'rithmetic." Not only must we have good teachers, now we're going to require that they be extra-super-duper vigilant and spot a bully in cyberspace?

Charles Higdon, principal at Taylor County High, hit the proverbial nail on the head.

The effort to curb bullying, he said, must start at home.

So while school officials can keep an eye out for bullies and do their best to curtail that at school, it's really up to the rest of us to hold up our end.

Whether there are funds available ... or not.