Casper City Councilman Dallas Laird said he gets phone calls “all the time” from parents whose children have been beaten up at school.
At Laird’s urging, bullying victims could soon receive official support from the Council.
During last week’s work session, Council members informally approved the anti-bullying resolution Laird proposed.
The councilman said he hopes the resolution will raise awareness and encourage citizens to research the issue.
“In extreme cases, bullying and harassment can be devastating for teens,” the resolution states. “Some teens feel compelled to take drastic measures, such as carrying weapons for protection or seeking violent revenge. Others, in desperation, consider suicide or commit suicide when they have no place to report bullying and harassment....The City of Casper, State of Wyoming, will work to ensure that no person is bullied and harassed.”
At the suggestion of other Council members, Laird is currently working on a new version that will include all ages.
“There are adults that get bullied,” Councilman Mike Huber said at Tuesday’s work session.
Councilman Bob Hopkins agreed and said he believed the elderly were also frequent targets.
Although he supported the proposal, Vice Mayor Charlie Powell pointed out that the school board is already working to address bullying. Powell said it’s an especially complex issue because the bullies themselves often need help, as many come from troubled backgrounds.
Councilman Chris Walsh advised adding a section stating that the measure is intended to show support for the school board’s ongoing efforts. Laird had no objections.
“It would be nice to actually do something apart from the resolution,” said Councilman Jesse Morgan, who then suggested that some Council members should go to schools and discuss the effects of bullying with students.
Mayor Ray Pacheco and Laird agreed and said the resolution should be viewed as a first step or mission statement.
Laird said Thursday that he hopes state lawmakers will eventually enact stricter anti-bullying laws with clearer penalties.
“I think it’s a bigger issue than many people realize,” he said.
Bullying is not uncommon in the United States. The National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 28 percent of U.S. students in grades 6 to 12 have experienced bullying.
Some younger victims are reluctant to ask for help, according to stopbullying.gov, a federal website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The website lists warning signs that parents or chaperones can watch for, including: unexplained injuries, declining grades, lost or damaged clothing or jewelry, nightmares or difficultly sleeping, faking illnesses to skip school or other social activities, changes in eating habits, decreased self-esteem and self-destructive behaviors, such as self-harming or running away from home.