If you read my earlier blog on bullying, then what I am about to say may be of some surprise to you. Yes, I do feel that forgiving others enables us to move forward, but what about those that are broken and can take no more? I have my own ideas on this.
We have different types of bullying–but in all cases I feel that there is ONE common thread. Bullies go after anyone they perceive to be different and/or lesser than themselves. I think they feel empowered at someone else’s expense because either they have been bullied and now this is an outlet, or they simply feel that they are above anyone else. I also feel that all bullying can stem from resentment or hate.
Bullies are EVERYWHERE. They are in school and in the workplace. If you don’t believe me, look at all the lawsuits. Bullies all use different tactics. Some use physical violence (especially in schools) and others use either cyber bullying and/or they use a position of authority they have in the workplace to exert their will over those they perceive to be beneath their station. I also feel that bullies look at their victims as a step below the species of humanity on the evolutionary chain.
The abused tend to become abusers–but not always. Now substitute the words “The bullied” and “bullies” in that sentence. Bullying is a learned behavior–not an instinct or a mental disease. If you want to stop this in our society, then it has to be stopped at the schoolhouse first! To stop it in the schoolhouse, there are many ways–mediation, sensitivity training, etc…I think the best way is for school districts to hit the parents where it counts–their wallets. I’ll also bet, if a study were done, those conducting it would find out that the children who are bullies also had parents who were bullies when they were in school. Parents who were like that tend to dismiss their own children’s actions as “kids being kids”. This is simply false today. As I’ve said before, “kids being kids” will get people harmed physically and psychologically today–if not killed.
If districts could impose heavy fines (like $25 per offense) on parents whose children are out of control, the money could be used to do many things–fund classroom supplies so teachers won’t have to pay for it–etc…Face it–parents often don’t buy the kids what they need, so use the fines for “bullying” to provide things like pencils, paper, crayons, map colors, etc…Also parents love their pocketbooks enough that they will eventually control their children when they get tired of paying fines for their ridiculous behavior.
Kids who are bullies and get caught should also be suspended from extracurricular activities and sports for at least three weeks after each incident. For severe cases of physical bullying, charge the kids with assault because that is exactly what they are doing on school grounds! Some districts and state laws already allow for this, others do not.
Victims of severe and/or repeat bullying incidents should also be made to see a crisis counselor immediately after the incident is made known to school officials to make sure there are no suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming others developing. Also, in less severe cases, transfer the bullies–NOT the victims. In fact, find out if the bullies are running in a clique and split them all up into different schools. When the cliques see that their buddies can’t go to school with them anymore, then they will back off of everyone else now. If there is one thing a group hates it is having their social lives monkeyed with for someone’s actions.
It just seems to me that unless the case is extreme, transferring the victim should be a last resort–up to the parents. Why should the bullied child be punished? It would be more of a punishment to the bullies to separate their groups into different schools. It would also send a strong message to other students that there would be no tolerance for THEIR behavior. To me, transferring the victim is almost like punishing the victim. However, in the case of severe assault, or sexual assault of any kind, then I say move the victim to a new district to lessen psychological trauma and lock up the assailants in a juvenile facility.
Being bullied does not justify the victims taking the situation into their own hands and they need to be taught this. That is why it is important to get the victims to a counselor. When a person cannot take any more, they can become irrational and they can do things the normal person would not normally do–like harm others and/or themselves. I believe that we have to be proactive and not reactive when it comes to this subject. There are lives at stake and the last thing I want to hear about is another school shooting or bombing by some kid(or kids) who were victims of bullies who were themselves out of control.
The handling of bullying cases should be treated with no difference as to the reason behind the bullying. A bully is a bully and whether the victim is gay, straight, pretty, not pretty, athletic or not is not important here. All are created equal and should be treated no differently–whatever the reasoning behind it. This is true for the victim and the victimizer. All bullying is equally horrifying and I do not want to see it continue. I worked for 4.5 years as a corrections officer and spent over a year of it as a sergeant. Anyone can draw a parallel between the bullies who beat up kids for stepping into “their corner” of the playground and the offenders who will beat up other offenders for sitting at “their” tables or simply playing handball on “their part” of a recreation yard.
I also am a certified teacher. The same behavior exhibited by bullies in the school yards is also exhibited in the prison systems. IF you don’t believe me, then do a study. I’ll bet my last $10 that if a study is done comparing this behavior in the school with the behavior of the offenders who do this in the prisons, they will find so many similarities that it will shock them–especially when they find out how many of the schoolyard bullies are in families where one or more of its members are behind bars for violent crimes.
Our public schools should be a safe haven in America for these children, but to me it seems that they are growing in similarity to correctional facilities. At some schools, there are armed guards, fences, gates, etc…Is it any wonder that such a comparison can be made? What has happened in our culture that has made this so? I won’t go deeply into this subject here, but part of the problem lies in the devaluation of Education in America. We now have a culture that doesn’t view education as being necessary and important. Until power is given back to parents and educators to stop the mess going on–including the bullying–schools will continue to evolve into something reminiscent of correctional institutions. After all, it is teachers who try to instill social values into these children and they when grow up and get to the prison system–it’s up to the officers to do that. Am I right or wrong? I really want somebody to prove me wrong on this. I challenge anyone to do a study on it.
America really needs to start thinking and re-thinking. The clock is ticking and our children’s futures are at stake because of what society has done to them. The school system has to be changed. I think we should seriously take a look at overseas educational systems and find out what makes theirs different. What makes them work? Something is working well for them because you don’t see nearly the problems there that you see in our country now–especially school shootings and such. What are they doing right and what are we missing as a nation?
I have also thought that with all the new “Occupy” protests, that maybe parents should “Occupy” their children’s schools. I do not see why parents cannot volunteer to monitor the hallways and such. For students who must walk to their home from the bus or from the school, set up parent patrols to walk the kids home and ensure their safety.
There is one more thing that one might look into in order to make comparisons and ensure accountability on the part of the school administrations. Here is my proposal. The Prison Rape Elimination Act (or PREA) was passed in 2003. It was written specifically to deal with victims of sexual assault in correctional facilities but it has expanded over the years to include offenders who are victims of extortion, beatings and to provide protections for offenders who have become suicidal. You can read a little about this act here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_Rape_Elimination_Act_of_2003 .
What does this have to do with school bullying? Well, here is my perspective. I feel that if a study were done on this, I would be proven right. IF an offender commits suicide, there is always an investigation into that. If it comes out that officers or administrators ignored the signs of offenders being abused and/or made remarks to the offender like “Welcome to prison!” or “You shouldn’t have committed the crime you did to end up here!”, then the officer(s) and/or administrator(s) who failed to get help for the victim can be charged with deliberate indifference–and get jail time for it on top of losing their position.
I feel that if a study were done, many of the offenders who attack other offenders were probably either school bullies, victims of school bullies and/or victims of abuse or neglect at home. Now if the federal government were to expand the PREA to include public education facilities, it would open up the door for teachers and administrators who fail to protect victims criminally liable for their lack of action when it comes to protecting our young victims.
America has a growing population of gang related offenses and bullies in the public school system who have learned this behavior from family members, or have learned it by being exposed to family members who are incarcerated. I feel that IF a study were done, there would be a strong connection here. I really want someone to prove me wrong on this, but I do not think it will happen because the suicide rate among bullying victims is steadily climbing. Cyber bullying and psychological terrorizing of children is becoming more common.
Since public school attendance is mandatory in this country, I have reached the conclusion that schools are no longer a safe haven for children to be educated in, but have become facilities for containment–much like the correctional facilities given the behaviors mimicked by bullies, teachers, administrators, offenders and officers–plus the upper administrations in both types of facilities. When administrators tell parents, “Well bullying is part of school life and your child needs to learn to deal with it.” This is no different from telling an offender who is assaulted “Welcome to prison!”. Do you see the connection I am making here?
We send our innocent children into public school facilities around the country with no protection given to them every single day because by law, we must do so. It is the only federally mandated institution forced upon our children, who have NEVER committed a crime or hurt anyone–yet they are getting hurt. They are dying every day. However, when the school systems fail to provide for the safety and well-being of those children in their care, it becomes a problem that can only be addressed by stronger regulation and litigation. Schools that have not implemented a “Zero Tolerance” Policy for bullying, must be forced to do so and forced to enforce it. It has to include stipulations about being caught for cyber-bullying as well. If student’s cell phones and such have to be banned from schools, then so be it. They aren’t allowed to have these things in a prison, so why would they be allowed here?