Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Zero Tolerance is another....better late than Another day just sped by and got away from me. How does this keep happening to me? Maybe I need some new track shoes in order to keep up?! Or maybe I should just resign myself to the realization that the older I get....the faster time goes! Sigh!

So if you have been to Walmart, Target, Kmart or even the grocery store....both you and your children (if you are blessed with any) are painfully aware that a new school year is just around the corner. I remember as a kid hitting this time of year with a mixture of sadness and excitement. Sad because my days of playing til dark and sleeping late were coming to an end, but excited because of all the possibilities the new school year had in store. Everything would be new from my clothes to my supplies and sometimes it even meant new friends. It was really a great time of year. I realized today though....not all kids feel this way. The start to a new school year is anything but exciting for some. For them it is a time that they approach with both apprehension and dread. For them....a new school year simply means the same ol' same ol' and that is nothing to look forward to.

For those of you who don't know me personally.....I live in a town whose population is about 6,000. I grew up here and while I remember some teasing in school.....I don't remember a lot of full on bullying. However....that is no longer the case. Today I was told that there were "several" kids not returning to the high school this school year because the bullying had gotten so bad the parents were pulling them from school. REALLY? In a school system with a "zero tolerance policy" on are leaving because of bullying?! Hmmmm. Really doesn't sound right....does it?!

Now I ask you a question. Have you ever (even once) laughed at someone because they were different; talked about someone when you only knew part of a story; teased someone because they looked, talked or dressed differently; turned others against someone because you simply didn't like that person or were jealous; or pushed, shoved or hit someone just because you didn't like them? If you did....then you bullied. If you have continued that behavior....then you are a bully. If you have treated anyone like that in front of your children....then you have quite possibly passed the art of bullying on to them.

Some cold hard facts about bullying:
Those who bully usually bully because of low self esteem, jealousy or complete and total unhappiness within themselves. There goal is to make another human being feel as bad as they themselves do. Happy people do not try to make other people unhappy.

Bullies often don't get caught in a school setting because they are sneaky. They plan their attacks strategically and work to get a reaction that they can then in turn blame on the one they are bullying.

Those being bullied will often hit a breaking point. Sometimes they turn around and take a stand against their abuser (often times getting caught because they are not strategically planning their outburst/attack) and sometimes the abuse gets to a point of a mental breakdown (i.e. Jonesboro, Columbine, etc).

Bullying is hard to stop in schools because teachers are often victims of the same abuse that the kids are. A bullied teacher will often times let a bullies actions go unreported. Teachers also fall prey to the "cool teacher syndrome" where the bullies develop a camaraderie with the teacher thus the teacher will look the other way when bullying occurs or even goes as far as to lie about the bullying situation if asked.

Zero tolerance policies on bullying seldom work. Why? Because bullying should be handled in a case by case situation. If a child is bullied mercilessly by another child all year long and finally hits a breaking point and pushes, shoves or talks back to the bully and gets no way should the child who fights back be in the same trouble as the child who has been causing issues the entire year. If teachers and administrators say they can't take one kids word over another...then maybe they better be calling parents in and having some discussions rather than a one punishment fits all attitude.

And finally...the parents. If a parent bullies...chances are his/her child will too.

If a parent stands back and says....."My child would never," experience tells us that chances are not only is their child doing it....but their child is also getting others to do it too.

Wanting your child to be popular is fine. Wanting your child to be popular at the expense of other kids is not. Some kids bully just because that is the only way they can hang with the "popular crowd." Cliques are not known for any kind of individualism and speaking out against the leader is ALWAYS frowned upon. So if Suzy comes to school and looks cute and Miss Clique leader happens to be jealous and decides Suzy is to be hated and ridiculed, then all Miss Clique's girls better follow suit and hate and ridicule Suzy or they are no longer a part of Miss Cliques world. Personally, I would rather raise a child that can think for him/herself, stand up for others and knows right from wrong even if the popular kids say something different. But then again....I guess I am just funny that way.

Finding out about these kids today made me sit down and have a major conversation with Z. Z himself has been a victim of both bullying and the zero tolerance policy, so I wanted to know where he stood with going back to school. Luckily right now....Z is good with himself and has developed some amazing inner strength of late. At least for the moment....others opinions of him really don't matter much in his world. He did let me know though...that bullying is still alive and well at MHS and unless things change greatly this year.....will remain that way. Yes.....MHS has a problem. 

So what does this all mean? How do we keep this sort of thing from repeating itself year after year? Perhaps more parent involvement. I know one particular parent whose child is one of the worst bullies at the school. If confronted....I doubt she would believe it...and even if she did, I am pretty sure she would look for someone other than herself or her child to put the blame on. Let's face it....our kids aren't perfect and neither are we. Sometimes when we realize that our kids are doing what we do...instead of what we say to do....the picture glaring back at us is not pretty. However, if we pay closer attention to how we treat others and remind our kids that high school isn't forever and that someday they are going to be out in the big old world where they aren't going to mean a darn thing to anyone and if they have learned to treat others the way they themselves would expect to be may end up treating them a whole lot better. Perhaps too if we teach our kids that standing back and watching someone get bullied or abused is just as bad as the actual act, the kids themselves might start policing each other a bit better while at the same time learning to respect each others differences.

I certainly don't have all the answers...and maybe I really don't have any, but I do know there is a problem at my school, and your school and at schools all over this country and it needs to be stopped now. It would serve us all well to remember that today's bullies will be tomorrows leaders, parents, spouses and employees. If they are bullies today....just think what kind of monsters they could be tomorrow. Is that a world we really want to see?

Okay....soap box is safely tucked away again for awhile. If words have power...then maybe after reading this, someone will stop and think before bullying or allowing someone else to be bullied. If not...well then...I gave it my best shot. So now it is time for the 30 Day Song Challenge. Today is day 26 and the challenge is: A song that you can play on an instrument. Since I can't even play Chop Sticks (I've got no musical talent)....we are going to go with a song that I "wish" I could play. Actually...that could be most any song as I would to be able to make music. I have always been pretty fond of the Disney movie songs and when I saw the Disney stage play Tarzan....I truly fell in love with this song. Here is Phil Collins from the movie Tarzan with You'll Be in My Heart! is hoping that you enjoy what is left of your Wednesday. Hope you have a wonderful evening.

1 comment:

Ben said...

You have hit on the essence of the problem. Bullying has been an issue for along time but now it is an epidemic. You have really shed some light on the issue. Good. Really good!