Ask most American school administrators and they will tell you that bullying has been a consistent issue. The Sacramento Unified School District has an Anti-Bullying Policy, as well as Bullying Prevention Strategies to help their students feel safer at school. However, some students still feel threatened.
“I was bullied for 6 to 7 years,” says Katherine Alestra, a high-school student who switched to charter schools due to bullying. “(From) 3rd grade to the beginning of 9th grade. I’d have to say 7th to 8th grade was the worst… I was scared. My best friend was like my bodyguard. If she was there, no one would go after me. I was told I was an easy target. Most of the time (the school) would ignore (the bullying) if it didn’t involve physical harm.”
According to one study, students who fear getting into fights are 28% more likely to be truant than their peers. In California, 230,000 students have skipped 18 or more days of school. One in three California students reported being bullied in previous years. Students who are bullied also have a higher likelihood of getting poor grades.
“Yeah (the bullying) really affected my grades,” says Charles Benidettino, an area high school student. “Before it got bad I was a pretty good student, (getting) like A’s and B’s, but once it got really bad my grades just plummeted to C’s, D’s, and F’s. I couldn’t go to school as much and I had to drop a lot of classes. The school didn’t do anything about it because they didn’t want to ‘offend’ any transphobes.”
Examples like these are leaving many wondering if schools are doing enough to protect their students from bullying. California loses $276 million dollars yearly due to absent students, and despite Sacramento Unified School District making an effort to prevent bullying, some students still don’t feel safe.
“The school should’ve had education about trans-people,” Benidettino said. “And zero tolerance to slurs being thrown around, and issued severe punishment to any bully.”