Bullying

Let’s face it kids will be kids but that does not excuse the increase in bullying these days. Bullying has probably been around since the dawn of mankind. Societies has always favored the strong against the weak but in reality victims of bullying are not weak, they just lack the tools to effectively deal with the situation. There are a ton of statistics on bullying, the effects and the processes and you can research those on your own as this note deals with my opinions based on several years of being a victim as a child and now over 20 years of helping children learn to be strong and deal with it effectively.

Everyone gets picked on, regardless of their clique or status in life. We all hear about kids “burning” other kids with smart commentaries that are designed to illicit a response. My older brother and his friends did it to me and I in turn did it to my little brother. My friends all “dissed” me and I did it to them. It is part of the growing up process I believe but when does it actually go beyond and become bullying? Chiding another kid in a social context always does happen but when that child expresses their distaste in the commentary and it continues that is when respect has left the window and the bullying levels begin. As I see it there are several levels of bullying. Each level is a process that grows based on the responses that the bully gets from their victim. Bullies are not weak nor do they come from broken homes all the time as they would like us to believe. It can occur anywhere and at any time. Even good friends can overstep their boundaries and go from making fun of a buddy to bullying them.

The main reason why people bully is because of the differences kids have these days. Even society creates this illusion about certain groups are better than others and so forth. Communities place to much emphasis on sport programs in school and not enough on art, science and other clubs that kids care just as much for who are involved in them. Sports programs are great but each club should be accepted equally as they are all an important part of growing up. When a coach fails to educate their athletes on the proper use of respect, honor and integrity then the program, no matter how great it is, does not achieve long term results. Having a great choir is just as important as having a great football team in the school system. The arts, like sports, are not for everyone and that is fine because each child has to find themselves as they grow up. When a system builds bullies because they tolerate “chiding and disrespectful” comments that are evidently over bearing then there is a problem.

One of the main things is that children are not taught to respect other children’s differences. This begins in the home front. Growing up in an athletic family and me not caring for sports it was evident that my two brothers got preferred treatment on certain things because they were athletes. I didn’t care for sports but loved Karate and I was an academic who participated in computers, theater and science club. I liked to be myself and not follow any crowd at all but rather just be friends with everyone. This attitude helped me learn the differences in everyone and have a more open mind thus leading to me being less judgmental as I grew into an adult towards other cultures and people. Something that society today does not teach us…tolerance. The school system has an expected ideal for every student instead of an understanding and supportive environment for each child’s ideas. Sure they are not there to nurture but they are there to educate and when they give favor to a certain group then they are not educating on tolerance, respect and being nonjudgmental towards others. This creates an environment where certain children are set up to become victims of bullies right away…and it is wrong.

There are hundreds of programs out there today that are supposed to resolve or assist with the bullying issue however most of them are “politically correct” in terms of favoring the school system and the status quo. The legal system has also tied the hands of the public education system to a point where most teachers are afraid to do what they know is right in fear of being fired or getting sued. The discipline structure of the school system is also weak and aimed at these same ideals thus leaving an environment where educators have very little resolve to dealing with bullying. They have created a zero tolerance system that punishes the victim the exact same as the bully and that is completely asinine to say the least. Children must be taught they have every RIGHT to defend themselves and also taught there are boundaries to what they can and cannot do. For example if a bully were to push another student they have every right to defend against that but once they have effectively done so they must stop and walk away. If they defend against the shove and keep hitting the bully then they are as much to blame in the fight as the bully was. This is also the same law that governs self-defense in the adult world. You can do enough to get safe but anything beyond that you can be held legally liable for it and end up in jail.

Some people believe that teachers who do not care should be fired or replaced but how can putting an inexperienced teacher into a school system repair or resolve the issue. It will not. Educating teachers on effective methods as well as having a better policy to deal with bullying is the best resolve, not firing them because they “don’t want to get involved”. The zero tolerance policy has failed and will keep failing because it outputs victims into society who learn that fighting back or standing up is wrong. In life if you don’t know how to fight back or stand up for your convictions / self you will NEVER be successful. Some learn this after their education years are behind them but many more do not and end up carrying scars around their entire life.

The most controversial topic involves the parents of both bullies and victims. Quite often parents do not do anything if their child is a bully or rather they automatically assume their kid is not “as bad” as it was made out to be. Then you have parents of victims that just absolutely fail to give their child the tools needed to deal effectively with bullying. Even worse is that society has parents on both sides of the spectrum that simply do not care…just like the school system has teachers that don’t get involved. The solution is to educate the masses and target families, not children. Most educational programs that are designed to resolve bullying fail to do this. They are either aimed at educating bullies why it is bad to be one or educating victims what to do. They are developed to be used after the fact instead pre-empt and fight against it. This is why they fail and why bullying continues.

It is true that some parents of children who are bullies are also bullies or were at one time. It is also true that parents of children who are victims often whine and complain without ever doing anything else to resolve the issue. Adults are as much to blame for the problem as society is because they fail to educate their children on right and wrong as well as enforce it. Most adults see bullying as something all kids go through but today it is downright nasty compared to what it was just 10 years ago. Educating all adults on the subject matter alongside their children is the best way to make it effective. The main problem is that you will always have adults on both sides that will not show up for those type of classes because “they think they know best”.

What it boils down to is coming up with an effective plan for both before and after as well as having a strong policy in place to resolve when a situation does arise. Here are some ideas that I have thought up over time to help:

  1. Documentation and data basing all incidents, no matter how small, that are reported for future reference by the school system.
  2. Begin a character development program that is effective and rewarding at the pre-school level and carry it forward into the junior high levels. Most character programs are either dropped to soon or started too late which makes them effective. This also has to be a standard program that DOES not change or get dropped over time. The only effective way to develop character traits that will combat bullying is to maintain a long term program instead of doing the latest greatest one and changing it each year.
  3. Place equal emphasis and focus on sports, arts, educational and science clubs in the school system. Make the students realize that each one is just as important as the other since they all support one another anyway.
  4. Have an effective method of dealing with situations that does not punish the victim but rather educates them. A good program would be mentoring and intervention where the bully and the victim must hang out together side by side and write a paper about each other so they learn from one another with a solid follow up.
  5. Have an effective program in place to educate the masses in society such as parent nights and other FREE speakers who comes in to help out from time to time. Educating the parents is just as important as educating the children.
  6. Get the entire community on the same page about these programs by getting local media, the chamber and civic organizations involved at a large scale. Working together to create a solid foundation that grows mutual respect in the community…instead of several organizations working their own agenda.
  7. Have an effective legal policy in place that permits employees of the education system to nip it in the bud when they notice it and then document the entire process into the database.
  8. Effectively create a placement chart for all students so they can be graded on attitude and their actions that is maintained and watched closely to alert counselors to problems that are beginning instead of waiting for them to occur and dealing with them after the fact.
  9. Offer a martial arts program in place of PE classes. Martial arts programs are the best source to teach confidence and tolerance along with character values. I am not talking MMA or violent sport programs but rather a true traditional program such as Karate or Judo. Traditional programs have helped millions of people for generations now and are beginning to gain more acceptances into educational systems over PE these days.

These are just a small list of what I feel could be effective at combating bullying in the school system. I have many more but this is a good start to get my ideas out there and I will be publishing this on Facebook very soon. Thank you for reading and enjoy!

 

Steven Franz

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