We need to learn not ignore

On Thursday last week, last period, Principal John Dodig made an announcement over the loudspeaker, “We can talk forever… about why anyone would feel the need to write something anonymously that is anti-gay, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, anti anything. Why would you say something nasty of them…” Unfortunately, as Principal Dodig’s harrowing surprise and disappointment showed, we shouldn’t have to be asking ourselves this, and it’s a shame that we do.

But, he said, nothing could be done about the app.

The next day, Friday, Dodig followed up by another announcement, stating that usage of Yik Yak had been blocked on the Staples campus.

In the meantime, teachers and administrators alike pretty much said the same thing: they were surprised; they felt that this kind of bullying didn’t exist at Staples.

Students were surprised they were surprised.

How can anyone assume that a high school, no matter how safe the environment may seem, will not have gossip, rumors, and bullying? Sure, it may not be as extreme as that on the popular T.V. show Degrassi, but by no means does it not exist.

Sure, bullying of this magnitude (the entire school involved, literally hundreds and possibly more posts) had not occurred at Staples before. But telling everyone that Staples is the ideal high school environment is too extreme.

Instead, when we have our first meeting with administration as freshmen, would should be said is that no, this is not a utopia. This is high school.

In comparison to other high schools, we have a much safer environment, but to say bullying rarely exists is a fairly gutsy statement to make of any high school.

Bullying at Staples does exist. Rather than pretend it doesn’t, we should admit that it does and do something about it.

Part of the problem with administration’s response to this incident is how shocked they appeared to be. If we weren’t always told that Staples was an ideal environment, and had instead been taught more about being kind to one another, it is possible that:

a) this would not have been such an extreme rampage of cruel verbal attacks and

b) administration would be in less shock and more able to cope with giving proper consequences to those who deserve it.

That doesn’t mean all of the responsibility for this situation falls on administration; it was the students who wrote posts. But maybe we need more education about treating others the way we want to be treated.

We are taught this until around middle school — a time notorious for bullying and social difficulty. Anti-bullying education should not decrease once we enter the time in our lives when it is most relevant and necessary.

If administrators want to respond to this in an appropriate manner, they should see the events of last week as a learning experience and a wake-up call.

While there is no way to ensure that this doesn’t happen again, we shouldn’t keep pretending that Staples is an ideal environment. I have always felt perfectly safe here, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t realize that others don’t necessarily feel the same, and the administration needs to do the same.

Students who feel perfectly safe have expressed that they still feel like middle and high school students could still use anti-bullying education, and maybe, just maybe, that would help prevent this kind of thing, and other forms of bullying from happening at an extreme such as this again.
We need to find a way to make sure that people don’t feel that it is in any way okay to be making intentionally destructive remarks, whether through consequences, education, or something else.

But this should be the only wake-up call. We need to do our best to prevent this situation – that should never have occurred in the first place – from occurring again, and leave the “Burn Book” on the movie screens and off the Staples halls.