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Some Teachers Still Think of Bullying as 'Boys Being Boys'

We still have a ways to go in moving the culture to a different mentality.

For a while now, I’ve been thinking that my work was done. That the word has gotten out about bullying, that the school systems were putting a stop to it, that parents knew the signs, and that people were ready to step in and stop it when they saw it.

I’m pretty sure others have started thinking this way too. Nowadays, school administrators avoid using terms like “bullying” or “anti-bullying” when discussing the topic. They have started to say those terms have been overused. Better, they say, that we talk about creating a “safe school climate” for students. I guess bullying just doesn’t happen anymore.

To believe such a thing would be folly, and it would open the door for bullies everywhere to pick right back up where they left off. Something like bullying, an activity that has been so embedded in our culture that people actually think of it as just “boys being boys,” doesn’t simply go away after a few years of attention. Oh, you’re one of those who doesn’t think it’s that big a deal anymore? Listen to this story about a 13-year-old that has only recently come to light, though it happened in February.

A 13-year-old boy who attended Kopachuck Middle School in Washington state was filmed by another student with a cell phone as he was dragged along the floor by his classmates, with his own socks stuffed in his mouth, pinned beneath chairs while they scribbled on his feet and much more.  There’s a 15 minute video of the incident available by clicking here.

The worst part about the whole episode was that not only was there a teacher present who didn’t protect this boy and put a stop to it, he was a participant as well! The teacher involved can be seen in the video taking part in physically harassing the young boy. The teacher has 18 years in the profession and knew that other children were videotaping the incident, but thought that it was “harmless horseplay.” He said that he "viewed the interaction as a matter of 'boys will be boys' and was allowing the kids a diversion from the normal after a long period of intense studies."

Evidently, we still have quite a ways to go to sufficiently shift our culture away from the “boys will be boys” mentality. The public was not satisfied with the 10-day suspension without pay the teacher received and wants him permanently terminated from the teaching staff. I agree with this. But not because of some sense of justice or appropriate punishment, but because I believe this couldn't have possibly have been the first time that this teacher has either participated in such an incident, looked the other way during such an incident or spoken to students in such a way as to make them believe that this type of behavior is acceptable. He needs to go.

I’m all for working to create a “safe school climate” for our children. I think it’s an important and long overdue step that should have been taken decades ago. But I think it’s too soon to drop the discussion about bullying. There are still too many people out there who just don’t get it. They still think that it’s “just boys being boys” and a normal part of growing up. Well, perhaps up until now, it has been a normal part of growing up. But that needs to change. And we obviously still have a lot of work to do when schoolteachers can still be so far behind the eight ball on this.

Ann C. Jett September 11, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Joel, I would agree with you. I would find it hard to believe this is the first incident the teacher would have participate in or, at a minimum, observed as it occurred. Any teacher in Connecticut who may be confused as to "bullying" need only look to the Connecticut statute. I was very happy to see that our school published the policy which included langage from the statute in the handbook. It's unfortunate that some adults cannot be educated in areas of sensibilities and consideration. I think that's why it's of such great importance that we educate this generation of children on the dangers of bullying, not only physically but emotionally, as we work to ensure "safe" environments of learning.
Mary Millican September 12, 2012 at 03:02 AM
This story is disturbing on so many levels. To begin with, if an adult was harassed in this manner, lawsuits would already be filed. Because this happened to a minor, a child who is supposed to be protected and kept safe by his attacker, it is just now coming to light. The teacher should be ashamed of himself and be held legally responsible. As a parent, I am sadened to think my children could be encouraged to participate in or be the victim of such harassment in any school system. As an adult, I am appalled that this behavior is still considered acceptable by anyone. Teachers and other care givers can not be with our children every minute. We trust them to do their best to protect our children physically and emotionally while in their care. This teacher not only abused his power, he abused the trust of parents, teachers who truly care about our children and in this case, a child. Like most people, I talk about these incidents at work, with friends, at home. This time I felt that by not taking taking a stand here, it would be a disservice to ALL our children.
Fred September 12, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Well get used to it, high school never ends and the real world isn't pretty folks.
toni from w hart November 08, 2012 at 01:50 PM
it remains a problem because teachers routinely dislike applying discipline to ANY student. they seem so eager to dismiss any negative behavior as growing-up, or a 'cry-for-help.' the bully is coddled and approached as 'needing guidance,' all the while the bully knows they have the upper hand as nothing significant will done to him/her. having a child in wh school system, i dealt with this personally, and my advise to any parent seeking help for their child in this matter, is to skip the school approach completely & go directly to the child's parent and/or guardian on your own personal time, away from that school. IT WORKS LIKE A CHARM! we had immediate results in something the school seemed unable to accomplish for weeks. when i informed them of my actions, they almost acted surprised that i was able to resolve the issue on my own without their help. now the kids get along, & situation is under control.

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