Bullying scholarship would cause more harm than good

As kids go through their adolescence, it is more than likely that they will encounter some form of bullying, whether they are the victim, the perpetrator or a mere bystander. This problem is evident in school’s across the world, and there hasn’t been a real solution to stop bullying, but the Florida Legislature thinks it has found one.

House Bill 1 would to provide a voucher for public school victims of violence or bullying. The funds given by this voucher could be used for either private school tuition or transportation to another public school.

This bill completely misses the point. The idea is noble, because the Legislature wants to get the victim out of a bad situation through these Hope Scholarships, but the bill isn’t focusing on fixing the predicament at the root of the problem: the bully.

The Hope Scholarship really does nothing but allow the bullies to get exactly what they want. It allows them to drive victims away from their schools, places in which they should feel safe while getting their education. When the solution to someone being bullied is for them to leave, while leaving the culprit to repeat the cycle over and over again, something is wrong.

House Bill 1 takes away responsibility from public schools to address bullying, which can become dangerous very quickly. If a student who is being bullied is awarded a voucher, the school doesn’t have to face the consequences of what happened; instead, the problem “fixes” itself. The school can pretend that nothing ever happened because the victim is no longer there. And worse yet, victims could very well be left feeling exactly the way the bully wants them to: like they don’t belong, they’re not wanted and nobody cares about them.

The intention of the Hope Scholarship is understandable, and there probably would be success stories. Some victims may be greatly helped by changing schools and could potentially thrive in a new environment. But what about those who don’t? What about those who leave a school because they can’t take the pain anymore, just to encounter the same exact thing at their new one? This scholarship doesn’t do these kids the justice they deserve. It doesn’t give them the type of protection that they deserve either.

It’s not enough to just throw money at what is probably the biggest issue regarding school-aged kids. It’s not enough to just give kids an escape route and not help them confront their problems. Instead, we have an obligation to create a safe and inclusive learning environment for everyone.

The Roar staff