The Bullying Epidemic
State-run schools in England are experiencing "an epidemic of bullying" and there is a rising chorus of voices urging that something be done to combat the problem. Even though this was written by a former teacher for a British readership, the issues are applicable on this side of the Atlantic as well:
Our schools are becoming ever more disrupted by bullying and the problem can no longer be ignored, for it is this cult of "violence" that can undermine the whole education process.I find it remarkable that both the British and American school systems continue to be plagued by an infestation of these little thugs. What I find even more remarkable is how many otherwise well-intentioned educators feel some sort of sympathy for the bully, or worse, are indifferent to the plight of the victims.
In recent weeks, two girls have been viciously attacked by their peers and as a result have been mentally and physically scarred for life. A teenage boy is starting a murder sentence, having turned on his tormentor in sheer desperation.
Childline reports a marked increase in calls about bullying since 2004, there were almost 10,000 permanent expulsions from school in 2004 and half of these were for violence and threats against pupils and teachers.
Education, primarily, is about people or, more specifically, the pupils, and it is the duty of the parent and teacher to continue to create an atmosphere where pupils not only can learn without fear of retribution but in which they actually want to learn.
Bullying, real or perceived, is the single biggest threat to that ethos.
The authorities must be given the power to take such decisive action against the perpetrator that will seriously discourage repetition.
There is sadly, however, no quick answer to this endemic evil but only when a majority is prepared to bite the bullet and to stand up and be counted, will the tide be reversed. I can only refer again to the trinity of pupil, parent and teacher. United they can win, divided and indifferent they will surely fail, and that will be disastrous for the future of our children.
I strongly believe that no child should ever go to school fearing physical assault by a classmate. Schools should be bully-free zones, period. Students who refuse to cease bullying others should be removed from mainstream classrooms and placed in much more structured environments where they will be under the watchful eyes of adults at all times.
Take a look at this American website which is dedicated to putting an end to school site bullying. Here is a brief article about British school boy who has banded together other bullying victims for their mutual protection.