It’s nearly that time of year. Yellow busses roll, the flashing lights warn caution. Maybe there’s a bigger message here. We’re in the Internet age and bullying has come full circle. Even while school was out this summer, Newsweek ran a piece about how to curb school bullying in Massachusetts. There was a picture of one of the bullies accused in a suicide of a high school teen in this state. She was wearing a Black Dog sweatshirt. That gave me pause to think.

There is a cancer growing among our young people, especially on the Internet. I was appalled after reading another article this summer about a middle school in New Jersey where the principal adamantly stood by his rule: it was not his business if cyberbullying took place after school hours or off school grounds.

Yes, even here in the Gazette, there it was — a girl bullied here by her peers, threatened with physical harm, taunted when the article appeared, and verbally abused when the parents threatened to take legal action and decided to make a no-trespass order for their private property. The answer from the authorities was very similar to the one from the New Jersey principal: if it doesn’t happen during school hours, very little can be done.

So I ask myself, what is the difference? One is on school grounds, under the watchful eyes and ears of teachers. Another is off school grounds under the watchful eyes and ears of the parents. Or it should be, and that is the problem — it seems that no one is listening. It seems that no one is home.

I asked my grandchildren where it comes from, this cruelty and mean-spiritedness, this need to hurt someone who is different or vulnerable. They don’t really know. We talked about music lyrics and reality shows where people are humiliated and disgraced. We talked about parents and who’s at home these days. Everyone, it seems, has so little time.

On the Island there is awareness of the problem. And here on the Vineyard there is definitely more gentleness and kindness toward others. There is more tolerance for diversity. But bullying still happens here and the question lingers: Who’s minding the store?

— Sue Lamoreaux