Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, South Carolina, on cyberbullying:
Despite a dramatic increase in public awareness and anti-bullying legislation nationwide, the prevalence of bullying is still one of the most pressing issues facing our nation's youth.
According to a report by researchers from Clemson University and Professional Data Analysts Inc., and published by the Hazelden Foundation, bullying affects individuals across ethnicity, gender, grade and socio-economic status, whether they live in urban, suburban or rural communities. Bullying can have serious effects during the school years and into adulthood.
"Bullying continues to affect a great number of children in all age groups, with the highest prevalence observed in third and fourth grades, where roughly 22 percent of schoolchildren report that they are bullied two or three times or more per month," said Sue Limber, co-author of the report and professor in the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life at Clemson.
Using data collected from the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire, the report authors analyzed a representative sample of more than 200,000 questionnaires administered to students at schools that intended to, but had not yet implemented, the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, an internationally respected anti-bullying program.
The sample included 1,000 girls and 1,000 boys from each grade between third and 12th — and the results were broken down by grade level and gender.
"We found that 18 percent of all students surveyed were involved in bullying others, were bullied by others or both, and that cyberbullying was one of the least common forms of bullying experienced," Limber said.
A substantial proportion of bullied students did not confide in anyone about being bullied, and boys were less likely to confide in others than girls. Although more than 90 percent of girls and 80 percent of boys said they felt sorry for students who are bullied, far fewer reached out to help them.
"Many students also lacked confidence in the administrative and teaching staff to address bullying and, by high school, less than one-third of bullied students had reported bullying to adults at school," she said. "Although half of students in grades three to five believed that school staff often tried to put a stop to it when a student was being bullied, this percentage dropped to just 36 percent by high school."
The researchers say that one of the best tools that schools have for decreasing the problems associated with bullying behavior is to implement evidence-based prevention programs.
"We hope that this report helps teachers, administrators, parents, policymakers and concerned citizens raise national awareness about bullying and improve school environments so every child can feel safe at school," Limber said.
That is our hope, too, as we emphasize that while many people may see bullying in the traditional sense, the impact of cyberbullying among today's youth must not be underestimated and must be recognized for the prevalent danger it represents.
Post and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, on no guns for abusers:
When a poll shows that 81 percent of voters in South Carolina, a state where citizens love their guns, agree that domestic abusers have no business possessing guns, it's worth noting.
And it's worth doing something about.
After all, South Carolina ranks second among states for the number of women who are killed by men they know. And 60 percent of those deaths are by firearms.
A 10-member House committee, established by acting House Speaker Jay Lucas is charged with examining the state's role in preventing and responding to criminal domestic violence. One of the big issues it plans to tackle is abusers' access to firearms.
The committee's chairwoman, Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, said that question is "one of the biggest, most difficult pieces of this issue." She cited the Second Amendment and said enforcement must be considered.
Of course it must. A law is no good if it can't be enforced.
But it would be a grave mistake for the committee to become mired in a debate over the right to bear arms for violent people who have demonstrated that they are not able or willing to act responsibly.
If a law enforcement officer is called to a scene of domestic abuse and determines there is a risk that the abuser might do further harm, he should have the authority to remove firearms from the house - even if it is only until the case goes before a judge who should decide whether to return the guns or not.
Magistrates before whom cases of abuse often are heard should exercise their authority to remove guns from homes where violent behavior has been a problem. Many never do.
And, of course, someone who is convicted of criminal domestic violence is banned from having guns. Federal law already mandates that.
Apparently, however, that federal law is not enforced evenly throughout South Carolina. Clearly the courts and law enforcement need to be better educated about the law. And Rep. Erickson makes a good point by saying she will see how other states handle enforcement.
When he was attorney general (2003-2011), Henry McMaster asked judges to set aside a day to handle only CDV cases. He mustered lawyers to act as pro bono prosecutors in those cases, and he lobbied the Legislature for a one-time monetary allotment to help each county provide a specific contact for victims of CDV cases.
The more knowledgeable they are about related laws - including laws restricting gun access - and how they can be enforced, the more effective judges, lawyers, law enforcement and social workers can be.
Rep. Erickson's committee faces a tough job. Domestic abuse is an emotional, legal and law enforcement knot to untangle.
But members should make swift work of addressing one obvious issue: Take guns away from abusers.