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The Hornet's Buzz

The multimedia news site of The Hornet's Buzz

The Hornet's Buzz

Acceptance, diversity, and bullying at Northtown

With recent media attention to high school bullying, everyone expects to see a bully everywhere and everyday. The question becomes, is there bullying here at North Kansas City High School?

Northtown is currently home to over 28 different nationalities.

According to assistant principal Bart Bates Northtown is one of the most diverse schools in the state of Missouri and this gives his students an advantage that other students don’t experience until college.

“Going to school here forces us to experience things we will experience in life. Going to a predominate white or black school, you miss out on what else life has to offer. Here we have the rich, poor, black, white, Asian, and Hispanic, “ Bates said.

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The school isn’t just diverse when it comes to race or ethnicity, but also learning abilities. Northtown is home to the most severe cases of students with learning disabilities. They also have the International Baccalaureate students, as well as English Language Learners whose first language is not English.

“In all these cases, we have the most extreme ones. They all come here to learn. All of these different cultures and learning abilities, together under one school roof to get an education,” Bates said.

Students also agree that the school is more open about accepting people than many other schools. Issues such as race, gender, and sexuality are not really an issue at the school because there is a place for everyone.

“We are like a family, and I know that sounds cheesy or whatever, but it is true. We don’t make fun of someone because of where you came from or who you like, unless that person is our friend. Then we make fun of them but it is understood by both the person making the joke and the person the joke is about, that it is in fact a joke,” sophomore Haley Daniels said.

But when does the joking become serious, and people consider it bullying? Does Northown have a problem with bullying?

Many students say no. They do not believe the term bullying takes place at Northtown.

Senior Starr Santee says when she thinks of bullying she pictures a big guy picking on a little kid and stealing their lunch money and feels as if bullying is not exactly the right word to use for what goes on.

Other students agreed with Santee.

“I do not think we bully people, but I also don’t think everyone absolutely likes each other. I think we accept others lifestyles, but at the same time were not going to go up and be friends with everyone here. We just leave things as they are,” junior Kalie Ohrenberg said.

So are the students saying that Northtown never has had a bullying problem? No fights, no anything? No, Bates says yes there have been some instances, but he clarifies on what exactly qualifies as bullying.

“Bullying is defined as a repeated behavior. If I do something or make a joke once it is not bullying. But when it becomes a repeated occurrence and the student feels as if you are harassing them, that is when we get involved,” Bates said.

Students agree with Bates, that a one time thing does not make a student a bully. Sophomore Jennifer Sanchez admits that she does not like everyone at the school, and though she has made comments towards a person once or twice, it didn’t become routine.

“Just because I don’t like a person doesn’t mean they’re a bully. I might say something to them, because they made me mad but that doesn’t mean everyday I’m going to be in their face. If they leave me alone, I’ll leave them alone,” Sanchez said.

Bates says Northtown hasn’t gotten as many reports on bullying as the other schools he has worked with as well as other schools around the district. He thinks this is because of the huge diversity and the idea of acceptance present at the school. He says the students learn that others are people too, and for the most part respect that.

But of course, we do not live in a perfect world. Bates knows bullying does take place and maybe the reason he hasn’t had many cases regarding bullying is because someone is afraid to step up and ask for help. He urges anyone who feels like they are being harassed or bullied to come to him.

“I’m sure it goes on, but the student is too scared and doesn’t want to look like a nark talking to me about it. We can keep secrets and not let others know who you are. There are ways we can get around it, so no one knows it was you who came forward. You can trust me; we can help you if you let us,” Bates said.

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