|Building character in the playground|
Yours truly was recently the recipient of a newsletter on School Bullying.
As a parent who last year removed his child from a class because of consistent
bullying which the teacher refused to control, I read it with some interest.
The teachers must take lessons specifically to deal with parents who complain
about bullying, because the response was flawless.
First she denied it was happening, then when should could no longer deny it, she
assured us should would stop it immediately, then when it clearly didn't she met
further complaints with statements like 'there are family issues with that
child that I am unable to discuss'. Apparently the needs of the bully were
greater than the needs of those being bullied. I guess he came from a 'more
needy' family than ours, so it was okay.
Clearly we were unable to stop it happening, but we could do the next best thing -
make it some other child's problem by moving my own child elsewhere. And we did.
Bullying has been in the news more and more because of the advent of mobile
phone cameras. More and more bullying episodes have been filmed and found their
way onto youtube.com or even onto the
TrashMedia like ACA.
The DoE, the unions and the teachers closed ranks to stop this trend of course:
they banned mobile phones at many schools - making it harder for people to show
what happens, and thereby concealing the amount of bullying that was happening
under school care.
But, prisons and schools are always somewhat porus. Phones get smuggled in
and videos smuggled out. So the DoE was shamed into actually looking like it
was concerned about the problem, and commissioned a little booklet to send to
And it was full of great information. It said what a bad thing bullying was. It
said that bullies were victims. It said that bullies often had emotional
problems. And it gave parents advice on how to counsel a child who was being
bullied at school.
But there was something missing.
There was absolutely nothing in the book about the responsibilities of the
teachers to ensure that a child was not being bullied. In spite of the fact
that the children are under total control of the teachers for six hours a day,
in spite of the fact that parents who refuse to send their children to school
are threatened with goal sentences, in spite of fact that parents are powerless
to stop bullying themselves, in spite of the fact that the only people who can
protect children from being bullied are the teachers themselves, it said
nothing about teachers having a responsibility to prevent bullying. And it said
nothing about a parent's recourse if the teachers refused to prevent the
All care but no responsibility?
Well .. no responsibility anyway.