JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ONTARIO’S PROPOSED LAW ON SCHOOL BULLIES GIVING SCHOOLS MORE POWER TO DISCIPLINE – BULLIES AND THEIR PARENTS – INFLUENCE OF PARENTS – TEACHERS TOO AS BULLIES   Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

I support the idea.

However, the main problem with bullying has always been teachers and administrators who do not pay attention to what’s happening under their noses and are reluctant to step in when they do see something.

Schools are communities, and the authorities of the communities are the adults. Children look to them for safety, but in so many cases today they look in vain.

The anti-bully programs with slogans and videos and t-shirts we have today are little more than a way for administrators to cover their behinds. Window dressing.

Maybe the legislation will change the situation somewhat.

Of course, there are more than a few teachers who themselves are bullies, but you just try getting anything done about them. Impossible.

I do hope the generally spineless McGuinty sticks to this, but in view of past efforts, I’m not hopeful.

We had zero-tolerance on violence – a good thing for the safety of the entire school community – but as soon as one ethnic group found its students in trouble more than others, the policy was dropped like a hot potato.

Yelling prejudice about stats is a pretty sad way to destroy a good policy.
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“Bullies learn from their closest role models – their parents.”

I don’t think that is accurate.

First, every serious study ever done shows clearly children’s closest role models are their playmates and peers.

Parents, despite their many hopes and pretensions, have remarkably little influence outside of supplying the necessities of life and a relatively safe place.

I’m sure the parents play a role, but I’m convinced that role is largely through genetic endowment.

Time after time, we find the parents, or at least one parent, of bullies are themselves bullies.

That fact has a lot to do with the school authorities being so reluctant and irresponsible in taking a bully child on: the results will be a confrontation with bully parents, and in our education system today, parents who make lots of noise are paid attention to.

We must remember that all the principals and superintendents and others administering public education are themselves teachers – many of them teachers who just wanted to get out of the classroom and all of them people who never rocked the boat.

It is a perfectly closed system, guaranteed to produce the results we see.

So while expectations of parents are important, expectations of the very teachers who are in the schoolyards, halls, gyms, and classrooms have to become a whole lot higher with regard to tolerating abuse.

Holding parents legally responsible is just passing the buck, and almost certainly leads to further abuse at home by bully parents – not a solution helpful to society.

We must provide mechanisms to support, and indeed demand, the removal of genuine bullies from the regular schools. I say genuine bullies because just about all children sometimes tease or call names, something which must be corrected by authorities but equally something that does not identify a genuine bully.

A real bully is someone who enjoys inflicting discomfort on others – doing so is a basic part of his or her personality. It likely is a mild form of sadism or psychopathy, or, in some cases, not so mild.

When such people are identified, they really need to be removed from the general school population, and we must provide special, tougher disciplined schools suitable for them.

None of this removes the basic responsibility from teachers and administrators. They must correct all the children just indulging in the taunts and teasing most children engage in at some stage, and they must identify the genuine hard cases which need to be removed from the general population.

Anything less solves nothing. McGuinty’s ridiculous 1-800 number to report bullying is a costly administrative nightmare, useful to no one. It is just a way to cover his behind. If the authorities inside a school are already ignoring their responsibilities, what is the use of a report form from an anonymous telephone call center in Bangalore India, or indeed anywhere else?

Absolutely nothing. It’s just busy-work to defuse a problem.

So unless you are prepared to support genuine reform, holding school authorities responsible for what happens under their noses and giving them the authority to act, this problem will continue forever, only becoming larger with a growing population.
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“I am a teacher and unfortunately, many of the teachers that I have worked with throughout my career have been bullies. We need to address bullying from the very top down–including administration, as many of them are bullies, too…”

Indeed.

We’ve all known them, bully teachers, but what is anyone to do about them?

A teacher pretty well has to be caught stealing or committing sexual abuse to be dismissed.

I can still remember the names of a couple of genuine bully teachers more than fifty years after experiencing them – a good measure of their bad effect.

Virtually all other inappropriate behavior, as well as downright incompetence, is tolerated and protected in our public schools much as pedophile priests have been protected by the Catholic Church for ages.

The teachers’ union protects the day-to-day creeps who do not reach such excesses as theft and sexual abuse, but still make many children miserable through their careers and teach them little worth teaching.

This issue of bullying is very interesting, opening as it does, the whole set of issues confronting public education.

Serious reform is one of our greatest needs in society.

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