March 25, 2004


An investigative piece on one incident of bullying in schools, and zero tolerance, etc. It is enraging. I could barely finish it, I was too pissed.

I don't understand the mentality. I mean, I have heard the stories, over and over and over - in the news, from my friends with kids in school. Bullying goes unpunished, even rewarded sometimes, and the little kid getting bullied is hung out to dry.

Teachers, educators, parents of kids in school - please help me out.

Why is it the trend now that the bullies are not punished - and those who are being bullied get the blame?

(via Electric Venom)

Posted by sheila

The whole thing is crazy - bullying is one of the toughest offenses to deal with because it's "gray" - not often witnessed. In this case, it seems the "powers that be" chose to turn the situation so that it could be dealt with most easily, not fairly --

I question a lot of how bullies are dealt with anyway. In the system I was in last year (inner city) a person who used words like fag, ni****, etc. or who bullied was forced to sit through a video tape on tolerance (I hate that word!!!). This whole process made me nuts --

On the other hand, I don't have answers. You spoke about taking a course in women's defense - by doing this you were empowering yourself. I think the bullied kids need empowerment and the bullies need more than a video. Schools are limitted these days with all of the political correctness (some justified, some not), but a parent could sue a system quite easily, and administration is very intimidated by this - so the entire subject is difficult to deal with.

Posted by: Betsy at March 25, 2004 04:24 PM

Yeah, right - sitting through a video on tolerance? Not really effective, I must say.

It seems like such a deep problem with so many tentacles - not one entity to blame. But God, it makes me frustrated.

Posted by: red at March 25, 2004 04:32 PM

I think it's got a lot to do with the soccer mom effect. Can't have kids standing up for themselves, gotta go looking for the "root causes" and teaching the smaller kids not to "provoke" the bully.

They think appeasement works better than letting the smaller kids figure out that the only way to deal with a bully is to stand up to them. And, of course, we know how well that works in other aspects of life.

Posted by: Mr. Lion at March 25, 2004 06:28 PM

oh honey
i always say
i have lived in terrible neighborhoods
been robbed
been cheated
been gay bashed
but the worst cruelty i ever experienced in my life
was in the 7th grade

i think i still have the scars

Posted by: rossi at March 25, 2004 06:41 PM

I have mediated some school yard fights (in CO) between high school students. These students are actually in the juvenile court system and are "directed" to the mediation as an option to being adjudicated.

The process in the school district, as explained by the article, seems more about covering the district's ass from legal exposure instead of finding out who is lying, who is guilty of assault. Columbine and the other shootings have school districts in a bureaucratic frenzy. "One more layer of bureaucracy and we will be okay." And the "we" does not always include the kids.

IMO every single incident in school that comes to the attention of the school should be turned over to the cops. High school students have to have it made crystal clear to them that in the grown up world (which they are approaching) will not tolerate this kind of behavior. (for what it is worth)

It takes alot to get through adolescent stupidity to the developing adult.

It might not hurt if the parents had some consequences come and settle on their little pin heads too.

Posted by: j swift at March 25, 2004 09:42 PM

A big part of the problem seems to be the idea that schools and universities are extraterritorial entities that should be permitted to have their own judicial systems.

Assault is assault, whether it takes place in school or somewhere else.

Posted by: david foster at March 25, 2004 10:37 PM

Dear Sheila:

I got more hits and comments on my series on bullying than anything else I've ever written (go hit my archives if you want to reread it all).

I'll still say it - at the risk of sounding elitist; there are those that engage in bullying, and when I was young, I wasn't permitted to associate with them. My Dad (the Colonel) dealt with the problem directly. I was not permitted to fight.

The reason for such things is pretty simple -- as J. Swift (above) points out, the adult world won't tolerate such behaviour.

Unfortunately, the standards-of-parenting are such nowadays that bullying is becoming far more prevalent -- at least in circles where parents don't care.

Most of my friends either home-school or private-school their children. The reasons are twofold: (a) they don't want their kids exposed to the prison-mentality that characterizes public schools, and (b) these parents have the novel idea that they'd actually want their kids to LEARN something.

As such, we've created an underclass by our lack of standards.

To all those who say "But how will they learn to defend themselves?" -- I say this: The children who are private schooled; raised right, and given the advantages that well-planned parenthood provides won't even be ASSOCIATING with the Great Unwashed. No need to 'defend'.

The only name the Rest Of Them will be calling this kids is "Boss".

My question -- do we want the kind of America where standards are abandoned?



Posted by: Will at March 25, 2004 10:41 PM

CYA is SOP for most school administrators, unfortunately. I agree that the prison mentality and lack of behavioral standards are severely impacting our public schools. The first is actually a result of the latter, as far as I'm concerned. We need to make it considerably harder for parents to SUE their schools, but easier for them to seek non-monetary redress for unfair treatment. Schools need to have the freedom to eject disruptive students, and it would be nice to have some sort of negative consequences for the parents as well.

My position on fighting has always been that it's wrong to START a fight, but it's not wrong to defend oneself. It's not always possible to avoid situations where someone decides to attack you, and if your kid is completely defenseless in that situation, you've done him or her an injustice.

Posted by: MikeR at March 26, 2004 12:22 AM

Well said, MikeR. I am going through a situation in my classroom right now that is all dealing with bullying. The administration is terrified of the parent ( a bully herself- doesn't fall far from the tree, does it?) I finally blew up at the school psychologist last week, telling him that not only are we doing the victims a disservice(and Rossi, I told him the scars that these child bullies were inflicting, although invisible, cut deeper than any other). I actually CONGRATULATED this psychologist for grooming the bullies to do more and more hateful and hurtful things to innocent children. I told him that I would now be advocating for all those children who did NOT have IEP's or 504 plans excusing such disgusting behavior. And, from now on, HE can deal with the offensive behavior, because each and every time a child is caught in my class, he won't be welcome. He can take his work and go somewhere else. There is little I can do as a teacher, but I'll be damned if innocent children are going to watch me stand by and do nothing. If nothing else, they will witness what touchy feely types like to call "social isolation"- i.e. act like a jerk, and you are not welcome to be with us.

Posted by: Beth at March 26, 2004 08:22 AM

Everyone who has commented here is a hero to me.

Perhaps this insanity is a generational thing - a phase - like the generation who believed children should be seen and not heard ... and it, too, will end up on the dustbin of history.

Posted by: red at March 26, 2004 09:34 AM

From all us kids who were ever thrown down stairs, locked in lockers, called ugly names, pushed, tugged, yanked, raped, punched, laughed and pointed at, and humialated by being called stupid, fat, and ugly, we thank all of you for saying something, and realizing what being tortured calls for.



Posted by: Alex at March 26, 2004 11:32 AM

You're on the front lines in this struggle, Beth - I just want to say that I appreciate your efforts to bring a measure of sanity into the equation. I can only imagine how difficult and frustrating your situation must be...

Posted by: MikeR at March 26, 2004 11:35 AM more comment....

Beth is the exception to the rule. Perhaps I'm too inured to the dysfunctionality of Oregon education, but a teacher like Beth, if she were in Oregon, would be working for a private school. Her courage would likely not be tolerated in public education.

I'll say it again -- my greatest fear is that, by abandoning our standards, we're creating a class-oriented society, where the Great Unwashed are going to be educated in droves by the schools-cum-jails that exist today, and the leaders of tomorrow are going to be educated either by visionary parents or by private institutions where the nonsense of bullying (and other low-standard behaviour) isn't tolerated.



Posted by: Will at March 28, 2004 02:51 PM