PARENTS ARE ROLE models, Christina Engel argues in response to tough talk on Facebook about the school district’s response to bullying. Here, she hugs her father, retired English teacher and U.S. Navy veteran Dick Zellmer during a past Veteran’s Day ceremony at the old Ripon Middle School. 
					             Wes Lungwitz photo
PARENTS ARE ROLE models, Christina Engel argues in response to tough talk on Facebook about the school district’s response to bullying. Here, she hugs her father, retired English teacher and U.S. Navy veteran Dick Zellmer during a past Veteran’s Day ceremony at the old Ripon Middle School. Wes Lungwitz photo

     A recent Commonwealth Facebook post directing viewers to the newspaper’s story about a Ripon Area School District (RASD) report showing a 38-percent drop in bullying reports from the previous year drew a lot of flak.

     Many parents opened their hearts to recount how they or their children have been victims of bullying.

     Some accused the school district’s administrators of looking the other way. ...

     Several took this newspaper to task for seemingly validating the report by writing about it. ...

     Ironically in a discussion about bullying, several posters had no problem holding back their own punches

     “Ripon is pathetic!,” one wrote.  

     “You’re delusional,” another wrote about this newspaper and the school district.

     “It’s a bunch of BS,” still another offered.

     Bullying, it seems, brings out the worst in many of us on several levels.

     So it was refreshing to read another post — a thoughtful, less histrionic submission from former Ripon Middle School English teacher Christine Zellmer Engel, now curriculum director in the Big Foot School District in Walworth, Wis.

     Engel, who served on the RASD’s Bullying Review and Prevention Committee two years ago, observed that no single entity can make bullying disappear. “It starts at home with our choice of words as parents. It’s the TV shows and music we expose our children to at home. It’s how we react to those whom we disagree with in all settings. It starts when we are young and continues throughout life.”

     She argued that adults seeking change need to first look in the mirror. ...

     So rather than be so quick to accuse the district of neglect, incompetence or indifference, critics might ask themselves how their own shoot-from-the-hip behavior contributes to the culture of quick and casual disrespect that makes some of our kids think it’s OK to hurt one another.  

     Then they might inquire — politely, respectfully — how they can be part of the solution rather than taking cheap, accusatory shots on social media.
                                  — Tim Lyke