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When will the real bullies be held accountable?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

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?
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The Easter Egg Hunt

Sunday, April 04, 2010

By Clara Middleton


Yesterday I was at a picnic Easter egg hunt. A friend of mine, the mother of a ten-year old boy, came up to me at some point very upset. She showed me these slips of paper that were placed inside eggs by a group of girls – two sisters and a toady – and thrown at her son:



My friend and I talked to her son, the girls, and other kids who had seen what had happened.  The story as we gathered was this: The group of girls had had a head start and collected almost all the eggs, which were about thirty. Most other kids had just walked away while my friend’s son had insisted on collecting his share and had found only five. He had objected to the girls and they had taunted and made fun of him. He in turn had gotten angry and chased them telling them that he would give them a black eye. They had run away, taunting him some more from a distance. He had cried out of frustration and said that they should apologize to him. Then the girls had placed these notes inside empty eggs and thrown them at him. “Here’s your apology,” they had said.


To update this site I look at a great deal of news items about children. Because of my son’s situation I have also been doing research on bullying. What I have found is that verbal bullying – cyber bullying when it is done online – is a very serious and widespread violence that younger and younger children are inflicting on each other. This violence is driving kids and teenagers to suicide. This is terribly serious. The messages that were put inside the eggs for my friend’s son are exactly the kind of things kids say to each other to inflict utmost hurt. And just like it happened with this boy, there are usually a group of kids who band together and attack one kid. (Look at this story, for example.)


When I talked to the group of nice kids who had happened to witness what went on between my son’s friend and the girls I pointed out to them that this exact wording is what some kids use to hurt others. They said they knew. One little girl, about eight years old, said that it had happened to her and that she’s “learning to handle it.” These very kind and wonderful kids ended up calming my friend’s son and he later said that they had helped him “handle it” too. He said that having these nice kids stand by him, talk to him, and be his friends really helped him.


But this is frightening. I keep thinking if this sort of thing can go on right under the noses of a bunch of picnicking adults, what do kids do to each other when we’re not there? And what happens when, unlike what happened on this day, the group of bullies is bigger than the group of nice kids? What happens if the good kids, or at least the ones who are not part of the bullies’ gang, don’t come to the aid of the bullied kid?


I shudder to think.

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What is Bullying and What Can Be Done About It

Monday, December 14, 2009

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