2019-01-10 / Opinion

Freedom of Speech Rebuffed


We have had readers write in over the past two weeks responding to Andy Long’s article “Bullying: A Key Issue for Newport Schools” in the Dec. 20 NTW edition. We are glad that there is open discourse about an important topic in our community. The term bullying has escalated over the years from what used to be called teasing or being picked on. Taunting a classmate with mean-spirited labels like “four eyes” or “tinsel teeth,” although hurtful, may have seemed like relatively harmless name-calling 30 or 40 years ago. But the level of meanness or violent acts in the schools, on the playground or on school bus can no longer be deemed childhood antics.

What is equally disconcerting is that we received a third letter about the Thompson incident. The writer suggested a review of the school’s bullying and violence policies with an emphasis toward instructions for the teachers.

It also went on to say: “A new social media program may improve communication with some parents, but it will not stop the bullying. Technological solutions, i.e. cameras, may deter actions in some places, but it will not stop bullying. So, where lies the answer? In the teacher’s lounge. Teachers need to be more aware in the classrooms and display a more observant presence in the hallways.”

But the last paragraph was alarming. The writer said they must remain unsigned due to fear of retaliation.

It seems we have failed in our quest for the freedom of speech and open discourse, and for that we are sad for our community.

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