Saturday, 23 June 2012

The touchy-feely approach to bullying

I have a small grandson, M, who has suffered bullying on and off ever since he started school. He is a sensitive, bright (has just won 3 scholarships), kind little boy, but hates the rough and tumble beloved of many others and loves adult company. He is not, however, very brave. My daughter has been fighting his corner for years, and is relieved that his time at his school (which has not managed the situation well) is nearly over (yes, he could have moved schools earlier, but she was afraid he might be going out of the frying pan into another, possibly even worse, fire).

Yesterday, one of the teachers gave a talk on bullying; said it was unkind, musn't happen, etc. He then went on to (as far as I can see) see it from the bullies' point of view, by saying that very sensitive children, like M, might be the vicitims of bullies, and had he himself been a bully, he might well have chosen M. Hence, while not endorsing bulling, he was as good as excusing it.

Poor M was utterly bewildered, as the message seemed to be that while bullying is wrong, bullying a quiet, sensitive child like him is understandable.

My daughter is furious. I am furious. Because there is NEVER any excuse for bullying. Reasons, maybe, but excuses, never. I have been a counsellor for many years, and know well about respecting different points of view, but bulling is, pure and simple, unkind, and bullying in any form is wrong, and should be clamped down on. Immediately.

Needless to say, this teacher has recently been on a course.

22 comments:

  1. When our middle daughter was bullied years ago at primary school, the headmistress wouldn't take it seriously. She refused to believe bullying could take place in her school. It turned out she didn't think mental bullying existed, only the physical type. So because our daughter had no marks or bruises, she didn't feel we had any reason to complain.

    Fortunately that headmistress has since had to quietly resign following a disastrous Ofsted report citing the low morale of staff and pupils and their lack of faith in her capacity for care. We took our daughters out of the school long before, thank goodness.

    Your grandson's experience is very upsetting. It's so wrong to suggest bullying in any form can ever be excused. I'm not at all surprised your daughter is furious.

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    1. Thanks, Joanna. I'm sorry your daughter had the same experience.

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  2. That is dreadful, Frances, absolutely awful. Bullying just isn't taken at all seriously - they'd rather look the other way than admit it goes on.

    So many times children end up going to a different school - it should be the bullies that are moved on, not their victims.

    I feel furious along with you and your daughter. It really is time this was tackled properly and not by sending teachers on courses!

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    1. Thanks for this supportive comment, Teresa.

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  3. You're right, all bullying is unkind (or worse). It doesn't just happen at school either. Some people have to suffer it at work, or home, even during leisure activities.

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    1. You're right, Patsy. I think low self-esteem is often a reason, but as I said, NOT an excuse!

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  4. www.cnn.com/2012/06/21/us/new-york-bullied-bus-monitor/index.html
    This link is to a recent story about a bus monitor (mature woman) bullied by teens, to the point of tears. It might help your nephew to know that this can happen to adults too. There is also a great footnote. Since this video went viral, there have been over four hundred thousand dollars in donations sent in to send this lady on vacation and help her retire. Also the students are being punished and some have apologized.
    I was a victim of bullying for years as I was often "New kid" in schools due to parents who moved around for work. Horses saved me and gave me self-confidence and validation. I won't stand to see anyone bullied. I step in and open my big mouth if anyone's having a go at a bank teller or check-out person in a store.
    I think the biggest positive approach to bullying is to tell onlookers to speak up and say "This is unacceptable behavior!"
    I think I would try to explain to that teacher how his well-intentioned talk was easily misconstrued. There's always a chance he'll do it better next time.

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    1. Thanks, English Rider. I'll look it up.

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  5. Teachers, don't even get me started. One of the things that I taught my child was that ANYONE can make mistakes and that includes teachers. There were many times that I had to have "meetings" with a bad teacher. They didn't mess with me. They knew I was my child's advocate, full stop. I feel sorry for children whose parents don't trust their children and let the teachers get away with behavior just as you described. That teacher has now been on a course? I should hope so!

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    1. Kay, I think the reason for this was that the teacher HAD been on a course (a nice cosy, fluffy one).

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  6. I am both amazed and horrified. That a teacher could display such insensitivity and ignorance beggars belief. Surely that cannot be something learned on a course and is just the inadequacies of an individual.

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  7. Ummm? I should probably add that one day, when I was visiting family in England, I came across two boys teasing a younger one at the playground. When I addressed them they climbed on a high structure and started cheeking me back. I benefitted from the American accent that I've acquired since I've lived here and had then easily convinced that there was a gun in my purse (handbag) and that I would use it, if they didn't behave. They shut right up!
    Shortly after, they sidled up to me and asked if they could see my gun:)
    Would you like me to take your teacher outside for a little "chat"?

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  8. That is an absolutely atrocious reaction from the school. You can try and understand the bully's point of view but that still doesn't excuse it. I hope your grandson has a happier time at his new school.

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    1. I think he will, Keith. A clean slate and a new start, one he really deserves

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  9. My eldest son had to travel on the school bus to school and there was one boy who bullied him and made my son's life pretty miserable. One day my son came home with a rather bruised looking face and in shock I asked him if he was okay. He said that if I thought he looked bad, I should see the other guy. He was never bullied again. Sadly this is the only way. You have to develop a thicker skin and stand up to them.

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    1. Maggie you're right. The trouble is that M says he " doesn't want to be unkind" !!

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  10. I couldn't agree more. Both my eldest son and my eldest grandson have suffered from bullying at school and in both cases the schools failed to deal with it.

    But I must put in a word for teachers. You can't tar them all with the same brush. Yes, there are many who are weak and ineffectual but there are also many more very good ones who detest bullying and do not tolerate it in any form.

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    1. Gail, I know there are many excellent teachers ( I was married to one who, literally, worked himself into a premature heart attack and death). I just could not understand how this man could make any excuses for M's bullies. I blame the school more than the kids involved. This school simply hasn't addressed the problem adequately. My poor daughter has worn a path to the head's door with her concerns, but now just feels that with only a short time to go, there's no point in complaining yet again! As for M, he can't wait to leave.

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  11. Bullying is never acceptable . We're lucky because there are always three of us working with a maximum of fourteen pre-schoolers so can quickly see any overbearing behaviour/unkindnesses . Bullies and any hangers-on are separated and made to sit on their own for five minutes . Bullied child is given something interesting to do with a couple of others .
    Not perfect ... but it works eventually . Bullying stops being such fun and the bullied one is made part of the group again .

    Then , of course , we throw them into primary school and they have to sink or swim in classes of thirty-odd with one teacher .

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  12. The trouble is that bullies are very good at not being seen when they're bullying.. But of course, you're right.

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