The question of Bullying is coming up all the time in the mainstream press. A student at my kid's school committed suicide this week and some think it was bullying related.
No I've gone back and forth on this issue. Depending on your definition of "bullying", you could say I have been on all sides of the bullying issue, kid as bullied and bully, parent of bullied and bully, educator, school official etc.
1. Do you think Bullying is a legitimate problem or is it being overblown for political agendas?
2. What is the role of technology in Bullying and other socialization issues, and is this a reason for or against the pervasiveness of technology?
3. If bullying is increasing, what are the roles and responsibilities of government, the schools, parents, peers, educators, community members?
4. What are the solutions?
Do you think Bullying is a legitimate problem or is it being overblown for political agendas?
It is a real problem. It is real. It is painful and it is damaging.
What is the role of technology in Bullying and other socialization issues, and is this a reason for or against the pervasiveness of technology?
Tech is tech, this is a social issue.
If bullying is increasing, what are the roles and responsibilities of government, the schools, parents, peers, educators, community members?
Make educators personally responsible, if there is bullying on the bus, make the bus driver and principle responsible. A friend of mine had the principle tell him that his first grade son had to “man up” to the bullying by a 6th grader. How does a first grader deal with being picked on by a 6th grader? How is that a reasonable answer?
Rather than dealing with the situation, the principles are allowed to shrug it off. I do thing the principles need the support to expel problem students.
What are the solutions?
Yes there are solutions, but they require really looking at the situation, calling the bullies bullies, and removing them from where they cause harm.
It would also require smaller class sizes and the ability to eject bullies from school.
It also requires administrators to be held personally responsible for the actions of student under their care.
I also think that sports players especially football players need to be on “a no hazing no fighting or you are off the team policy”. Also require them to have a 3.5 gpa to play.
Also coaches need to be held to a no hazing no defamation policy.
Change the culture to say that the geeks and science kids are the stars.
Good points David.
"Make educators personally responsible, if there is bullying on the bus, make the bus driver and principle responsible."
I work at one of the largest public school districts in my state and many of the very best teachers are retiring early and otherwise leaving because society is expecting far too much from them. We have never been able to keep enough bus drivers with what we pay them.
"A friend of mine had the principle tell him that his first grade son had to “man up” to the bullying by a 6th grader."
This past year in the public schools. My daughter was being harassed by a boy two years older - a sixth grader. My son, his age, asked him to step into the bathroom at which time he beat him up saying, "Stay away from my sister!"
So my kids have been bully and "bullied" - and so was I.
"Change the culture to say that the geeks and science kids are the stars not the jocks."
Do you think that Jocks are fundamentally different than Geeks? Often a boy who felt like an underdog all his life becomes the worst tyrant when he is no longer powerless. A smart kid often uses his mind much more dangerously than a jock uses his muscle. I'm thinking of leaders throughout history.
Is the Jock/Geek idea itself a dichotomy that furthers bullying?
In rethinking my position.... Given the very good statements on this discussion.
I think we simply need to assure that no group is given an excuse or a favored position in relation to bullying.
What I do think is that the administrators need the option to eject bullies from the common population.
As to the smart kid being more dangerous that is true. Perhaps the real issue is that we need to realize as a society we can't use mass production techniques on our children.
Re: mass production
The result of the bullying in elementary school was I went to private school for fifth grade through college. My high school graduating class was 13 students; my typical senior-year classes had just 9 students. There was still bullying at my tiny private school. Older-on-younger, bigger-on-smaller, and better-looking-on-normal-teens.
I graduated second out of the 13 and honestly don't remember any A-student-on-C-student bullying. I was told by three different teachers over the four years not to volunteer so much in class discussions or be so smart-alecky with classmates.
What there wasn't as much of was cliques.
Well, as someone else pointed out. There is a different sort of bullying with academic types - it's more passive aggressive, more subtle but still there.
I see power struggles within all groups and across all groups.
Your observations are different than my experiences. Also, if bullying is something that everyone experiences all the time, isn't that a different definition than what we're working with in this discussion?
Mass production is a good word (I think of the Pink Floyd video).
Administrators do often overlook any problems - they don't have any solutions and often don't like the nerdy kids any more than the bullies do.
Kids know this and so they don't bother to tell the administrators - often instead such a kid gets in trouble for reporting it.
Also administrators can't eject students from class - there is too much legal precedent that says that schools have to provide a fair and equal education to all - they get into hot water fast when they expel or even eject too many kids.
One lawsuit can bankrupt an entire school district. Hurting all kids. So no one has any teeth except the ACLU.
Schools can't hardly pay for teachers with the class sizes they have - making them smaller creates other problems. Schools are bloated but that bloating is all they know. Trimming the fat is not seen as an option - especially when parents aren't helping parent at home.
Thus the other issue here is absent fathers.
Remember too the separation in US education, that the administrator is not a teacher, or usually has no dealings with individual students unless there is a discipline issue or a problem between teachers and parents; so the person with the least information makes the harshest decision for the student.
I agree a lot with what you are saying except the sports / geek thing. This is not an issue limited to jocks. I'm sure in the more advanced math and science classes there are kids who are teased and bullied in a more mental way because they are not as smart as those who are at the head of the class.
That is a good point.
Perhaps it really should be just smaller class rooms and a policy of bullying is simply unacceptable.
Administrators and teachers have been stripped of disciplinary power in the last couple decades. There are rules and if they can see that a student is unquestionably breaking the rules they can suspend the kid. Otherwise they're powerless. They can know what's happening and not like it, but they need proof of they're gonna get sued and/or canned. They can't even call a kid out for acting like a jerk for 'fear it would hurt their self-esteem'. And their job, (rent, mortgage, bills), is way more important to them than some kid getting bullied.
The idea that jocks are somehow more responsible than any other group is curious. Seems like a stereotype from hollywood teen movies. Pretty much every group has it's bullies, and it's in the same proportion. Jocks, skaters, hipsters, preppies, geeks, metal heads..... all of them have their fair share of jerks. I played team sports in HS. There were a couple bullies, most of them were good guys though. I was also in National Honors Society, there were a couple bullies there, too. But most of them were nice people.
Have you noticed how many kid's movies lately are about the nerd making good? How being an outcast is ideal? I like those movies and ideas but there are a lot of assumptions in those sorts of movies - that the outcast is surely just.
Also there have been a lot of movies about the villain being just a pathetic person who never had a friend and the hero is just a jerk. Megamind is the biggest one that comes to mind - also The Incredibles etc.
We no longer have hero and villain, right and wrong - we're too sophisticated for those outdated labels.
What happens to a society where everyone's a victim?
It actually creates more predation, not less.