October is National Anti Bullying Month. But, I think a more appropriate title should be National Bullshit at School Month. Yeah, I know I sound super jaded and I am because I believe – no scratch that – I know not nearly enough is being done about bullying. But, what about all the programs? Indeed, there are many and what of them. Those programs preach bully free zones, kindness, and character. Kindness is important to be sure. Everyone should (and the operative word here is should) treat others the same way they want to be treated. Old timers call this the Golden Rule. However, very few are doing that. And, even fewer care about doing what’s right because there are very few consequences to bad behavior and bullying. It is the lack of consequences that is perpetuating bullying and other behavioral issues in our society.
Bullying has always been around. This is not a new concept. Almost everyone encounters bullying at some juncture. For most of us, it usually happens in elementary school. The bully is usually some jackass that loves to pick on people different from them. That difference can be anything from socioeconomic status to physical appearances to just good old fashioned jealousy. The bully is also usually someone that hasn’t been raised right, not taught kindness and character at home, and someone who believes for some weird reason the rules don’t apply to them. Everyone is usually afraid of the bully until someone stands up to them. Sometimes this can be done with some well placed put-downs in the right environment – i.e. on the playground where everyone including the teacher can hear it. But, more often than not, the bully gets physical and the bullied has to put the bully in their place – meaning on their ass. When the bully is shown they no longer have a victim either the bully will stop or move on to another victim.
Unfortunately, in schools today we have taken away our victim’s rights. We have given even more power to the bully. You see, when a bully calls a child names the victim is no longer allowed to call the bully a name least they both get a talking to. In today’s school, if the bully physically touches their victim the victim is no longer allowed to fight back. If the victim fights back they get the same punishment as the bully which again is not much more than a stern talking to. And, not only does the bully get with little more than “that’s not nice, Timmy” the bully knows nothing more will come of it, which gives the bully carte blanche to continue his or her predatory ways.
If you haven’t already figured it out this subject is a little near and dear. Both of my kids and I have had to endure bullies at various times. One child recently had to deal with a verbal bully. I’ve spoken with the district and voiced my displeasure but I know nothing will come from it because it falls on deaf ears. It did in the past in other districts and will at this district too. Now I’m wracking my brain on how to do something. The more I wrack my brain the more convinced I am that it all goes back to lack of consequences. I’m convinced this lack of consequences is helping to perpetuate entitlement and the feeling that one can just do anything they want to do. Technology and modern living have removed many natural consequences. Other consequences are being removed by redirection parenting techniques. We’ve talked about that one before – the never tell your child no only redirect thing. Spankings, time outs and even yelling are looked down upon, lest it damages the child’s psyche. We don’t want them to fear even though a little bit of fear can be a good thing. Schools have stopped giving out real consequences. Gone are the paddles hanging in the principal’s office. Gone are write offs or extra work. Gone is the threat of your parents will be called and they will deal with you. Teachers and administrators aren’t allowed to touch children. Bad behaving children are told that behavior is not acceptable and that is that.
And, what happens to the victims in all this? They are gaslighted into accepting their fate. They learn that nothing will be done. It’s better not to tell. And, the bully learns they can get away with whatever they want because the adults are too scared of an angry parent or a lawsuit to really give any appropriate punishment. So, this bad behaving child grows up continuing to think rules don’t apply to them.
I don’t accept that and our children shouldn’t accept that but how do we fix it? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? How do we protect our children and take back the power from the bullies? Do we write letters to our school districts? Do we yank our kids out en mass and homeschool? Do we lawyer up and sue our school districts for not providing a safe environment for children? Can we pretend it’s 1989 and give power back to victims and let them stand up bullies? I’m open to ideas, especially from my teacher friends. I know we are all inundated with issues of the day – politics, climate, job security, healthcare and just getting through the day. We all have to pick and choose what’s important to us. This latest foray into dealing with bullies has lit a fire and I’m ready to tackle it. I welcome help.