Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bullies, Part 2

I got an anonymous comment on my Bullies Grow Up post that I've decided to respond to in post form instead:

I do believe we have to address the issues that cause children to be bullies. However, your statement of how the school "completely fouled it up" is judgmental and quite one-sided. The schools are being required to teach more, deal with more problems, fix all the ills of the world in a way that parents are not expected to. All of these expectations are in the face of increasing call by the public for decreased funding for schools, decreased respect for teachers, increased pressure to evaluate a teacher's every breath. I'm sure your school did not only what it could AFFORD to do (considering the fact that this situation was probably one of hundreds being dealt with at that time by a minimum of staff) but also what it felt was legally SAFE to do. In a society in which teachers/school staff are routinely brought to court over a hug given to a grieving child or a pat on the back for a job well done, schools are in a no win situation. I would suggest that you become a counselor in a public school yourself. Then you can become part of the solution rather than merely writing about it. jmo

Now, I normally don't like responding to purely anonymous comment, but since the heart of the comment completely missed the point of my post, I think it's worth responding because it seems I didn't express my point very well.

They took issue with me saying that the school fouled up. Yes, I do believe the school fouled up and I do believe that most schools are not solving the bullying problem in the most effective manner.

Every so often, we collectively come up with an answer, and we become the definition of insanity; doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.

This school dealt with the issue the same ways most schools deal with the issue. "No tolerance" meant that the girls were to stay away from each other. So what I ended up with was my daughter sobbing to me that the girls were saying, "you can't sit next to us, you can't talk to us!" and basically using the counselor's so-called solution against her.

That's no solution.

The commenter seems to think that schools can't solve the problems effectively.

I firmly disagree because my other daughter attends a school that truly solved the problem.

I got an email from the principal one day with the subject line "Boys making fun of [daughter]."

Oh, boy, I thought. Here we go again.

I opened the email and by the time I was done reading it, I was smiling.

My daughter and her friend had gone to a teacher about these boys picking on her. The principal saw what was going on, and immediately came to assist. My daughter and her friend were commended on speaking up, the boys were both spoken to and given a lunch detention, and by the end of the day, my daughter told me that all was well with everyone concerned. The boys had apologized, the girls had accepted their apologies, and everyone was on friendly terms again. I was slightly concerned that my daughter would face some criticism from her peers about "tattling," but it didn't happen.

And I can tell you, I feel the difference immediately when I walk into either of these schools. The school with the firm policy feels like a prison when you walk in. I immediately feel defensive and want to leave. The school that solved the problem and moved on, I feel respected and welcomed when I walk in.

I do believe that schools, that people who work at these schools, can change lives. I do believe that excellent counselors, principals and teachers are to be cherished, and I do believe they ought to make much better salaries for what they do. And I do what I can to show them how much I appreciate them.

To suggest, as the commenter did, that I should become a counselor is a very bad idea. I'm not cut out to be a counselor, and I know that. I think it takes a very special person to be able to solve these problems delicately. To say that anyone can do it, frankly, undermines the people who do it so very well.

Yes, our schools, our teachers, the parents and the students are all facing some extremely difficult challenges. But to just say that it's too hard and we should accept less would be the greatest failure of all. We have to recognize and acknowledge when things aren't working and we have to make the necessary changes. 

To do anything less means that the bullies of all kinds win. That will not get any of us better results.

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