The recent incident of a Cherry Hill student in special education being bullied by teachers has created a firestorm of discussion and activity. The good that can come from this is that it draws attention to the issue and will hopefully result in measures being swiftly put in place to stop this kind of abuse. However, this incident is, very sadly, not all that unusual. Just last November in Gloucester County a similar incident happened and information searches will turn up hundreds of other incidents. In addition, there are countless other incidents that will never be reported or brought to light.
Teachers are placed in a position of power and authority over society’s most precious commodity – our children. For any teacher to belittle, abuse or demean a student is reprehensible. For a teacher to do so with a student with special needs, who is even more vulnerable, is beyond comprehension. Disciplinary action in these cases need to be swift and severe. New Jersey’s anti-bullying bill of rights was as quick and progressive action to address student-student bullying. Now we need to ensure an equally effective measure to address this “new” form of bullying. Teachers who bully should never have the opportunity to be around children again. In addition, everyone working within schools, as well as, students and parents need to learn how to recognize the signs of children being bullied and be empowered to speak out against it.
President of The ARC of New Jersey, North Brunswick