Jessica Barba, a high school freshman at Longwood High School, Middle Island, N.Y., was suspended for trying to raise awareness of a major issue--bullying in schools. She produced a six-minute video on bullying for a high school assignment, featuring a fictitious character (Hailey Bennet) as the victim, who ultimately commits suicide. She also created a fake Facebook page in Hailey Bennet's name and posted an update that said, "I wanna be dead". A concerned parent reported the page to the police. The school, ignoring all the notices on the page that it was mere fiction, suspended Barba for a period of five days for causing disruption.
|Photo credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara |
Children that are bullied suffer loss of self-esteem, depression and anxiety and the trauma stays with them their entire lives. Schools have to nurture children and give them a carefree childhood instead of becoming a nightmare as they are apt to do nowadays. And there are none so blind as those who will not see; school officials must adopt stricter measures in combating this problem. "Bullying is 100 percent preventable," Barba says.The schools certainly should not punish somebody who is creating that awareness. I think Jessica Barba is a heroine.
UPDATE: The school reinstated Jessica Barba today. It also promised to remove the suspension off her transcript. Hopefully, it will now encourage free speech on this subject and allow dialogue and independent thought to address the issue. For some more information on anti-bullying and proactive behavioral management, click here.