As I read about bullying and incidents of bullying, I am continually amazed at how many times the administrators of a school will say they weren’t aware of the problem. I find this “it can’t happy here” attitude difficult to believe. I think administrators like to sweep it under the rug and call it by different names in an effort to not deal with it. Not because they don’t think it is important, but because of the complexity about what do to leaves them with more questions than answers.
For example, I know that when we have dealt with issues, we have been told that it is just “boys being boys.” Principals have also said that it is just a boy being a jerk, or a wise guy. Even so, when did that become acceptable? By not doing anything and dismissing it, administrators are giving the green light for that to continue and for other kids to behave that way if they so choose.
So why do those in charge do this? I don’t know that I really have a straight forward answer to that question. I do, however, have a couple of theories. First, I think it can be that the parents intimidate or even bully the school and those in authority do not want to deal with those parents. In a society when people sue so quickly, schools worry about dealing with a law suit and will avoid it at all costs. Even at the cost of the emotional state of a child.
It might also be that the principal doesn’t feel that it is a high priority because of the way he or she is viewing it. This is unacceptable. When an administrator does rename what is going on in an effort to minimize it, it leaves the child and parents of that child feeling helpless. These are just excuses for those in charge to not deal with the issue at hand.
When a child is feeling belittled or attacked personally, the school has an obligation to step in. If it is a repeated incident, it is absolutely bullying and needs to stop. I do like to give the benefit of the doubt. It is possible that the child doing the bullying may not even realize his/her actions are hurting someone. If this is truly the case, a short conversation with the child will put an end to the hurt feelings. Any child who has been taught respect and compassion will stop when asked, particularly by an authority figure. However, more than likely there is some reason the child feels the need to put others down. Countless schools want to work with the child being bullied to help them through the tough situation. While this is all well and good, their primary focus needs to be the bully. Our schools must be required to set a plan in place to help the child doing the bullying learn to act in a socially acceptable manner.
We must let the school know it is unacceptable to continue down a road of apathy. We must fight for all children’s rights. Our children have a right to a public education without ridicule. The current state of our education in our country is dependent on it. When we look at education reform, I believe that we are putting emphasis on some of the wrong things. One overlooked item being a safe environment. So many children have no safety in their lives, either at home or school. As part of our education reform, we need to give our school environment an overhaul as well. Our schools must have the authority, but more importantly the courage, to deal with bullying.