NV parent speaks out on bullying, zero-tolerance school policies

Two young school-aged children point and laugh at another student who is covering her face with her hands and is visibly upset.
June 5, 2024 – Alex Gonzalez, Public News Service (NV)

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The classroom was the most common location bullying occurred at school in 2019-2020, according to the Pew Research Center. (Adobe Stock)

About a third of U.S. parents with children younger than 18 say they worry their children might be bullied at some point and it became a reality for one Nevada parent.

Christina McDarment said her 12-year-old daughter, who has a disability and was in the public school system, began to get bullied at the age of 10. She is now 12 and being homeschooled. McDarment explained her daughter experienced name-calling and others making fun of her appearance, which eventually led to things getting physical.

Zero-tolerance bullying policies have been implemented around the nation to stop such behavior. And while McDarment noted she supports the idea the mandates propose, which consist of a punitive approach to bullying, when put into practice she argued it can lead to a counterproductive response.

“I think the school just doesn’t do enough to make sure this stuff stops,” McDarment asserted. “What is it going to take? Someone really seriously getting hurt and ending up in the hospital or something?”

McDarment emphasized she was disappointed by the lack of willingness by her daughter’s school to address the bullying, resulting in the girl not wanting to go back. Opponents to zero-tolerance policies said they are unjust, harmful and stigmatizing, especially for students with special needs. But proponents countered by saying they are needed to keep a school environment conducive to learning by removing disruptive students.

McDarment acknowledged her daughter’s former public school now wants her to return but said she is unsure if it is the best decision for her daughter. She added it is not because her daughter did not like school, she just could not withstand the constant bullying. Today, her daughter is excelling in a homeschool environment.

“She is a lot happier,” McDarment observed. “She went from all ‘F’s to all ‘A’s and ‘B’s.”

McDarment encouraged parents to be observant and notice changes in their children’s behavior or appearance. She added if they say they’re being bullied, believe them. If you or someone you know is being bullied, you can text ‘CONNECT’ to 741741 for free, confidential 24/7 mental health support.