Short takes for Oct. 18

Seatbelt use

THUMBS UP: According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, seatbelt use is at an all-time high. The DPS says the latest observational use survey in June showed a 94.8 percent seatbelt use rate – a 15 percent increase since 2003. For a reference, in 1986 – the year Minnesota first passed a seatbelt law – compliance was 20 percent and there were 280 unbelted deaths on our roads and highways. In 2003, belt compliance was just shy of 80 percent with 257 unbelted deaths, and in 2008 belt use was 86.7 percent with 150 unbelted deaths. Last year, seatbelt use was at 93.6 percent with 116 unbelted deaths. Too many deaths on our highways to be sure, but at least this is a positive trend.

Bullying battle: Are we doing enough?

THUMBS DOWN: The bullying story out of Florida is a horrifying one, and one that begs the question: Have we made any strides in the battle against bullying? Many schools have waged anti-bullying campaigns during the past decade; some have brought in professional speakers, supposed experts on the subject, some have had the students themselves step up and take action. But is the message getting through? It would be naive to assume so, and what happened in Florida after a 12-year-old female bullying victim committed suicide, reminds us that more work needs to be done. According to the Associated Press, the sheriff handling the case read a Facebook post by one of the girls responsible that came out after the victim took her life: “Yes, I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself but I don’t give a ” the sheriff said, quoting the post. Blatant disregard for human life is disturbing when adults display that attitude – when kids do it, it’s even more chilling. Schools have certainly reached many kids in their efforts to prevent bullying, but the fight is nowhere near over, and it shouldn’t all be the schools’ responsibility – parents need to talk to their kids and communicate with them at least on a weekly basis. So, again, the question: Are we doing enough? Perhaps the better question is: Are we doing it right?

Athletic co-op

THUMBS UP: It’s good to see school boards in Ivanhoe and Minneota work together in the best interest of all the student-athletes. The Ivanhoe School Board recently voted to send basketball players and golfers to Minneota in a move that further strengthens the relationship between the two school districts (Lincoln HI and Minneota already have a co-op in football and baseball, and team with Canby for cross country, track and softball). Wrestling, too, will be offered at Lincoln HI in a partnership with Minneota. This kind of relationship is good for the schools, good for the communities and, most importantly, good for the kids.