As you should know by now I have experience of being bullied at school. I have my own ideas and solution which could be used.
However, what I feel is missing from this whole debate is - well, exactly that as it happens. There are so many ideas, schemes, and suggestions (most of which are not exactly helpful to the cause of finding a solution for it) but nobody - as far as I can see - has actually asked the people on the frontline (or recieving end of it).
Hardly a day goes by without some news report or other on the subject of bullying in all its forms (be it in school, Domestic Abuse, Workplace Bullying, Cyberbullying, etc) and the consequences of it.
I got a bit wound up by all the discussions because they all seemed to be focused on the symptoms and not the causes.
I asked a Twittercop to help me with this post by answering a few questions for me. Some of their answers were quite surprising to me. (My thoughts will be in italics.)
The first question I had was - Do you think that the parents of children who bully other children in school should be treated in the same way as parents who do not make sure their children go to school (ie, fines, etc)?
Hmmmm do I think parents of bullies should be held responsible in some way ?? yes. Children learn by example. They aren't born bullies - they have to learn that from their environment and the lead 'example' in any such environment is of course the parents. Not the schools, not the police, and not Spongebob Squarepants or whoever else is chosen to be the fall guy of the day.
The problem arises in that many parents of bullies lack basic social, parenting or other such life skills as a result of their own upbringing, combined with the recent dumbing down of society's values in the last 20 years and the liberalistic (with a small 'l') approach to discipline and the showing of right from wrong, or even winning or losing which for some years has also been a no no in our education system.
Interesting to note that the comprehensive school in my town, which is regarding as one of if not the best in the region (and regularly tops the results tables) really did have zero bullying issues for many years. The local education authority decided in their wisdom to extend the catchment area to the outskirts of a neighbouring town with a lot of poverty and appalling school standards in the hope that some of the good work her would rub off. Result - instant increase in violence. bullying and theft crimes against 'local' pupils. But no one can see why apparently.
Violence breeds violence, whether it be from seeing parents beating seven bells out of each other or from watching increasingly abusive violent TV shows and films, or engrossing themselves in many modern video games, sometimes as an escape from the ails of the real world but the result is the same. Violence and self interest becomes the norm.
This is an interesting answer. I agree wholeheartedly with it but it has made me think. There is obviously something seriously wrong when we are in a situation where there is no legal escape from being bullied in school - due to the fact there is a legal requirement to send your child to school.
Instead of punishing parents for not ensuring their child goes to school - and possibly making the situation worse for the victims - we should be educating the parents of bullies (as well as fining them). Unfortunately I know for a fact that some parents of bullies will come up with any excuse they can to try to justify their children's behaviour.
As the Twittercop says above - the parents are the ones who are responsible for how their child acts.
Next question - Do you think there should be a Police Officer somewhere on school premises so that incidents of bullying can be dealt with like any other crime - instead of the usual "flimsy" school punishment system?
Should there be police officers on school premises ?? Well there are regualrly in the good ole USA, and they are armed -- but it doesn't stop the violence and shooting/massacres there.
We also have a lot of schools this side of the pond already that has PCSO's based permanently within, as part of some half hearted attempt to resolve many of the issues that teaching staff are unable to control, not for want but because most of their power to control and discipline within the school environment has been removed and they in turn have no support against unruly and disruptive children and their parents within the school environment.
Should police be there - of course not. Whilst we are, it's another excuse for the Department of Education and wider Government to shirk their responsibility to the school staff and other pupils who actually want to achieve something with their education.
When I was at school, even primary school, you did not cheek the teachers, the head had the slipper (and later the cane) and detention meant exactly that. Parents didn't storm into the building threatening and attacking staff and this was only 30 (ish) years ago so where has it all gone wrong ??
I agree with parts of this answer. In an ideal world the Police should not be needed to sort out problems in schools.
I remember an assembly in Secondary School where the Head of my Year totally deranged himself because some of the local students had caused havoc in the town centre after school - he totally lost the plot. I also remember another assembly on the subject of "The price of your good name" regarding stealing.
Where the Twittercop and I have a difference of opinion is the fact that bullying has a tendency to "leak". I clearly remember having it drummed into me that the school's responsibility for me ended at the school gate.
There really needs to be some way of connecting the school's responsibility with the responsiblity of the "wider world".
I wish I could say that bullying only involves a bit of name-calling - however, we all know that bullying can (and in my experience does) escalate to some pretty serious crimes if not stopped near the beginning.
So - whilst I agree that - in an ideal world - the Police would not have to be within 35 feet of a school building (except to show Primary School children that the Police are not dangerous creatures and to introduce them to the delights of sirens) - I would have to ask about who is prepard to take up the slack???
Whilst I do not agree with liberal use of corporal punishment in schools (you cannot get to the root of a child's problems if your first instinct is to resort to violence when they misbehave) - there is too much "red tape" and there are too few agencies who are prepared to "join the dots" between school and home. The agencies that are there have got staffing levels which are too low to be very effective.
My last question was - Do you think there should be better education around bullying and its symptoms (for children, teachers, and parents)?
Much work goes on in schools now every day regarding bullying, spotting the signs and victims and resolving the problems. EVERY school has to have a bullying policy, however from the number of calls we get from parents regarding schools doing nothing when they report matters, I would suggest many schools try and ignore the problem hoping it will go away.
Both of my daughters, whilst at the local school, have trained as 'bullying ambassadors' under the Princess Diana Award - http://www.antibullyingpro.com/the-diana-award/ - My youngest daughter is actually doing her training only this week. One of the ideas is to provide peer support and also train them to spot the signs teachers miss and flag them up.
Wow - a school which takes bullying seriously.
So - that is the childen sorted out - what about the teachers and parents??? Where can they get useful advice from???
I would love to be able to round up teachers and parents so I can tell them about my experiences at school. OK - so my experiences are from 30 years ago but - trust me - the damage lasts a lifetime.
From the reports on the news every time a tragic incident occurs as a result of bullying the advice seems to change when it comes to "things to look out for". The checklist for "symptoms of bullying" is starting to read like a checklist for Grooming by pedophiles, drug addiction, parental neglect, etc.
The other thing which I find interesting is - nowhere does there seem to be any mention of one of the causes (in my case) of bullying. You can call it "Special Educational Needs" or you can just call it "being slightly different to everybody else".
Bigger schools, larger class sizes with mixed abiities, recipes for disaster if you have to cope with difficulties which set you apart from everybody else.
I must admit I always looked forward to detention and my days in "solitary" (a room on my own with a teacher) in the first few terms of Secondary school. There were days when even a lesson taught by Steve Bowkett seemed like a "cruel, excessive, and unnatural punishment".
It comes to something when your Monday starts at 8.00am on an actual Monday morning and finishes at 4.00pm on a Friday afternoon - if you are very lucky. Going to sleep hoping I wouldn't wake up was also a regular occurence.
Yes - I admit that there has been progress in some things regarding bullying in school. However, I feel we have gone backwards in other things/