Monday, February 27, 2012

No Bullying, My Ass

My kids were born in a post-Columbine world.

They are growing up just an hour away from that now-infamous school.

The school they attend, designed in that post-Columbine world, from the floor plan to the administration.

These days, schools preach about No-Bullying.  They have special classes and meetings.  Everyone in the schools goes through special training.  There are posters all over the hallways.

They talk and talk and talk about it.

If we can drill into their heads that bullying is bad, we can stop it, right?

A naive assumption at best, a dangerous error at worst.

We live in a world where children aren't allowed to play dodgeball because it may victimize them, where kids are suspended for having rubber bands (because they can be used as weapons), but the actual bullies aren't dealt with.

For fear of hurting the self-esteem of kids, for fear of repercussions from parents, for fear of rocking the boat, for lack of enforcement, for fear of god only knows what, these programs aren't working.  Not at all.

Kids are being victimized in schools every single day by bullies, and all the posters in the world aren't going to help them.
This.Does.Nothing.
The powers that be talk a good game, sound convincing to their superiors, dispense all the required sound bytes when they need to, but they've failed at teaching the kids anything real about bullying.

Bullies are alive and well.  In many ways, they are even worse now.

In the last year, my eldest son has ended up in the principal's office three times.  Anyone who knows my son immediately questions why.  He's a big kid, but a gentle soul.

The first two times involved the same child.  A pathological liar of a child with poor social skills.   When he doesn't get his way, he lies.  He gets other kids in trouble as a hobby.  And the powers that be haven't figured this out.  My son was forced to apologize to the bully for something he didn't do.

His most recent trip to the office was an even more blatant example of the failed anti-bullying strategies.  The instigator in this instance has a history of bothering other kids.  Parents have written emails, students have told teachers and counselors.  The kid has been told to "play nice", but there haven't been any other consequences.

This gives the bully power.

No real punishment = getting away with it.

Getting away with it = upping the ante.

This time, this bully attempted to take on a group of kids that no one in their right mind would.  The biggest, the tallest, the most athletic and the scrappiest kids.  He's bold enough to take them on because he figures he can get away with it.  He knows he's messing with good kids that won't respond with violence.  He knows that the school won't do anything about it.

The inaction is making this bully worse.

It's not just this bully though.

My youngest daughter was sent to the office after she finally fought back and stuck up for herself when the adults in charge did nothing.  She got in trouble.  The bully did not.

There is at least one in every grade.   They are boys and girls.  They come from stable families and broken ones.  They are the smart kids and the ones who are struggling.  They are good at manipulating the adults around them.

One thing these bullies have in common is a shared environment that preaches about no-bullying but does nothing to stop it.

We are failing all the children, bullies included.

I'm tired of this, and I know I am not alone.

2 comments:

  1. I read this piece this morning before I heard the news. Where is the threshold? Where is the line we have to cross for us to say we have gone too far? I can't believe we haven't hit it yet.

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  2. I was a straight A student that had never been to the principal's office. I stood up to a girl that had been bullying me and...erm...slapped her around a bit on the bus when she finally made me snap. I have to say, it's actually one of the prouder moments of my life. Three guesses on who got in trouble. The more things change...

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