MCKINNEY (CBS 11 NEWS) – Parents rallied Thursday to stop the kind of bullying many believe led a McKinney teen to take his own life last week. Dozens lined the sidewalks outside McKinney Boyd High School where Raymond Howell was a student.
Supporters all agree on the end goal: to stop bullying, but it’s a complicated issue that has even anti-bullying advocates disagreeing on how to confront the problem.
They came by the dozens to pay tribute to a beloved teenager and to raise awareness about a problem many parents say is more widespread than most realize. “As a parent it’s important to me because my kid could be next,” McKinney Boyd mom Dawn Wilcox said at the rally.
Mothers Opposing Bullying founder Belinda Ramsey is working with legislators to draft a new law that would put new anti-bullying policies in place to quickly put courts, not schools in charge of punishing offenders.
“As a school, they should be thrilled. They should embrace this. This takes away what they’re afraid of… lawsuits,” Ramsey said.
The proposed law that Ramsey supports would establish a three strikes system. Punishment would escalate with each offense, from fines and community service to juvenile detention. But first, a student would have to be officially designated as a bully.
“Once those criteria have been met, and you’re labeled as an identified bully, a citation would be then written on a school level, and that would take it out of the school,” Ramsey said.
No Bullying In School founder Claudia Corral worries that could be the wrong approach. She believes you can safeguard an alleged bullying victim without making the alleged bully’s punishment so severe that it could eliminate hope for reforming the aggressor.
“Imagine if I call a child a bully, and I label you a bully, and you’re in school. By the time you get to high school, college, that will follow you,” Corral said.
Corral says existing laws can be effective if parents learn their rights and are encouraged to document all cases of bullying. It’s something investigators say did not happen in Raymond Howell’s case.
“Politics are not going to change what happened at McKinney ISD. Politics are not going to bring back Raymond Howell. What we need to do is educate,” Corral said.
The demonstrations are scheduled to resume on the sidewalk outside McKinney Boyd High School Friday morning starting at 9 a.m.
(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)