Letters to the Editor week of 2-24-11



To the Editor:

Just recently, my nephew had a problem with being bullied by another student. Unfortunately, my nephew’s solution to the problem was to bring a knife to school for protection. I, in no way, condone what he did. I feel he should have gone to the principal or perhaps his parents about the problem. He says it was just to scare the other student. That may be, but there is a No Tolerance rule for weapons and he broke that rule. His punishment was expulsion. I, honestly, agree with that punishment. However, the student who was doing the bullying didn’t so much as get a slap on the wrist because it was considered “hearsay.” My nephew said he didn’t go to the principal because he would be labeled a “snitch” and would be bullied even more.

A while back, my daughter had a problem with a student picking on her and I told her to tell her teacher. She said she couldn’t because she would have to pull a card for tattling. I asked her teacher if this was true and was told that it was. They didn’t want the kids to end up being labeled a tattle tail.

Our children need to know that they can go to a teacher or the principal when they are being bullied. They need to know that they will be safe after doing so. And the bullies are the ones who need to be punished, not the ones who are being bullied. I have heard that this is the case in so many instances and it was what would have happened if my daughter had told her teacher. So, if my daughter was going to be punished for telling her teacher, what was she supposed to do? Just continue to let the other student pick on her?

I saw a commercial on TV that encouraged kids to go to their principal, guidance counselor or a parent when they are being bullied. I, also, encourage kids to do the same. As parents, we need to know that our kids can go to school and get the education that they need without worrying about them being bullied. As many of you know, kids have committed suicide over things like this. And our kids need to know that they don’t need to “arm” themselves just to be safe in school.

I’ve heard some people blame the parents for kids bullying other kids. I don’t believe that. Just as with drugs or alcohol, we can talk to our kids about what’s wrong and what’s right until we’re blue in the face, but that doesn’t mean they’re always going to listen. Let’s face it, peer pressure is a hard thing to deal with.

But as far as bullying goes, I encourage parents to continue talking to their kids. Let them know that, if nothing else, they can come to them if they are having a problem at school. And I encourage the teachers to listen to the students and not punish them for “tattling.” I hope and pray that my child does not try to bully another student. But if she does, not only will she have to deal with the principal, she’ll have to deal with her parents.

Rebecca Richards



To the Editor:

As the state senator representing many veterans and their families, I understand the concerns recently expressed in a letter by Darrell Hansel regarding possible legislative changes to Indiana’s scholarship programs. I also appreciate his service to our country and the work he continues to do as the 9th District Legislative Liaison in southeastern Indiana.

With great respect, I humbly offer a response to his letter and some clarifications about this important program and recent legislative action.

Our State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana (SSACI) – a commission tasked with helping Indiana students pay for college educations – last year funded $248 million in scholarships and, in spite of recent budget adjustment proposals, would remain one of the most generous such programs in the nation.

But in order for SSACI to continue its work of assisting students in financial need or those who are children of disabled veterans, updates have been necessary. Although Indiana has increased funding every year for this program, the amount of award money per student has fallen dramatically because of increased demand.

While Senate Bill 577 continues to be debated, it’s important to remember these key points:

 - Anyone who is currently in the program remains 100 percent funded;

– Anyone who is a child of a veteran with a Purple Heart, a deceased veteran killed in action or a graduate of the former Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Children’s Home would be awarded 100 percent funding;

– Any child of a veteran with a disability of 80 percent or more would receive 100 percent funding;

– 90 percent of those who qualify for the veteran’s benefit would not otherwise qualify on a financial need basis; and

– Even after these changes, Indiana will continue to have one of the best state-level disabled veterans programs for these children in the United States. Most states have some cap on the award or eligibility restrictions while Indiana’s continues to be open-ended. Some states only provide scholarships to students of traditional college age, not adult children of veterans, as Indiana’s does.

Senators will not turn their backs on the Indiana veterans who have done so much for this state and nation. But, just as veterans have had to take decisive action to rectify a dangerous situation in battle, legislators must aid a program that could find itself in peril down the road. Action now will help these programs continue to operate and help the deserving sons and daughters of disabled veterans in Indiana.

 State Senator Jim Lewis