Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Bullying and What Should Be Done About It
I just wanted to share some stories that I read over the weekend about bullying in schools and my thoughts on them:
Texas Teacher Had Kids Hit Alleged Bully
In this first one, a Kindergarten teacher was having a problem with a 6yo boy in her class being a bully to the other children. Her (with the collaboration of another teacher) solution: line all the children up in the class and order them to smack the bully so he can see what it's like. If she didn't feel that they hit him hard enough they were told to "Hit him again. Harder!" At first thought this seems like the old "Hit 'em back!" advice, right? Yeah, I don't think so.
It would be a totally different (non-newsworthy) story had that teacher advised those children to stick together when they are getting bullied by him and stand up to him; a great lesson on the power of sticking up for what's right and working together for the good of all. But her method sends a completely different message; if you have power you can make anyone do anything, even things that they don't think are right and don't want to do. You see, there were many children in the class that did not want to hit him - his friends and some others that just did not want to hit someone - even if a person of authority told them they should, they knew it was wrong. But they did it, not because the teacher convinced them it was OK or even the right thing to do, but because she had authority over them and they have been trained to obey or face consequences; and look at the type of consequences this teacher chooses to use.
This teacher will not be charged with any type of abuse charges. She was put on "Administrative leave" - she's still getting paid but not working in the classroom - for now. Like someone else pointed out, if a mother can be charged for arranging a fight between her daughter and another that has been bad-mouthing and essentially verbally and emotionally bullying her then why is this any different.
You know the worst part is that when I read this story I was not the least bit surprised. Pissed off that there are people this ignorant who are training this generation of our country, frustrated at the system that protects these teachers but not the students, irritated that I am spending any of my time as I sit here with my children (who are safe and never for one moment doubt that they are loved and important while they are being educated) thinking of the people that protest our decision to homeschool even though there are stories like this daily, and some very close to home that we have heard from friends whose children have suffered abuse at the hands of a teacher. But absolutely not surprised.
Let's look at a situation like this in our homeschooling. If there is a child that is physically or verbally assaulting my child, more than likely I or another mother will be nearby and will stop it immediately. If another mother is nearby and does not stop it and I hear about it later, I would go and talk to that mother about it. If the child still continued to be hurtful to my child then I would take him or her out of the situation where they would have to be around the bully if I were not present.
And very simply, if it were my child doing the bullying and I saw it he would be disciplined immediately and I would be sure to keep a watchful eye out so that it could not become a habit. And if I did not witness it I sincerely hope that another parent - or even the other child - would come to me as soon as they could and let me know.
I can hear the arguments already:
"But you can't protect your child forever."
"They will have to stand up to bullies someday."
"That's just the way life is, they need to learn to not be so sensitive."
I do tell my children that they are completely within their rights to stand up to bullies. But some children just have a different nature. I was a very sensitive child (except to my sibling, I had not problem standing up to them) and I just could not figure out what to say or do when confronted. My oldest son has no problem standing up to people but my daughter is more shy and will generally come to me crying if she feels like someone else is belittling her. I think it is completely different when we are talking about kids and adults.
A child is forced into a situation and can feel helpless. Like there is no way out. As an adult we always have a choice. If you are in college and get picked on you can figure out a way to stand up to the person/people or you can move dorms, or switch classes, or even switch schools, or leave school altogehter. We may think, "Why should I have to do that? I am not doing anything wrong and I shouldn't give the bully the satisfaction of seeing that they got to me." True, nobody should have to do that, but the point is you have a choice. You can do one of the above or you could choose to endure the bullying. The same goes for work. You may be forced to work with certain people but you are not forced to keep that job. You always have a choice. Children in schools don't. Unless they have a parent or someone else that cares for them to stand up for them and help them either find a solution to their problem that actually works for them, or get them out of that situation.
And that brings me to the second article.
He's Bullied, But He's Still Got to Go to School!...Doesn't He?
Actually, NO! He doesn't! And isn't that wonderful?!