By Cevin Soling
Director of The War On Kids
A reply to Stop school bullying by attacking underlying causes
The entire discussion on bullying in schools completely misses the mark and this article is no exception. The fact that the sentiment of the article's title is wholly correct makes the writer's conclusions all the more frustrating in his failure to comprehend. He is no different from all of the other editorialists and columnists except that he asked the right question.
The true underlying cause of bullying is school itself. School creates an environment where students are powerless and resort to bullying as a means of having a sense of feeling like they have some degree of control. This behavior can also be seen most dramatically in prisons. All of people's worst attributes surface in those kinds of breeding grounds and they stem from being in an oppressive environment.
The school programs designed to teach respect are blindly founded. Whatever impact they may have comes from suppressing symptoms and not treating the disease. The programs are not designed to change school, but rather attempt to condition students to accept their incarceration in a docile way. On the surface, they try to teach students to respect one another, but in a school environment, such lessons are typically ludicrous since students receive very little respect.
The respect administrators and teachers have for students is always bounded by the fact that they have complete power over them. No matter how well-intentioned an educator may be, at the end of the day they have the autonomous power to grade and punish. Even though we accept this as a norm, the fundamental nature of this power is always abusive on some level. The typical response by those in power is to dismiss this observation by asserting that it is a necessity for the functioning of school – an ultimately trivial assertion.
That kind of thinking conspires to doom any hope for improving how kids are educated. As a society that cares about our children and our future we have an obligation to hold those people in contempt. The fundamental assumption of school is that learning can only take place in an environment where students have no civil rights, no expectations of privacy, and no desire for self-expression beyond the boundaries of what is permitted within the rigid scope of school activities.
As long as schools are structured the way they are, there will always be bullying. The worst part is that the students who are subjected to the oppressive conditions of school will always be blamed, thereby exacerbating the situation as we see taking place already. The tactics and measures currently being designed to punish bullies, or suppress bullying, might have a small impact, but it is at a great cost of making a horrible environment even more unbearable. Every complaint or insult a student makes to another can subjectively be deemed a form of bullying by an administrator (and the recent history of abuses under zero tolerance shows it will).
Ultimately, this will lead to more bullying of students by those running schools with more punishments and suspensions and an environment of anxiety and fear. This is the state of most schools today, already. When will the real bullies ever held accountable?
By Cevin Soling
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