Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bully Bully

Amaya entered the car, and waited until Rio was finished with his tattle tale session about a friend using inappropriate language at school. Then she informed me on the new policies their school's going to implement next year in regards to bullies. Rio has been the victim of bullying, so it's a topic I have very strong opinions about.

"Next year the school is going to try to enforce a new policy," she said.

"Oh yeah," I answered.

"If someone calls someone a name, they will be suspended."

"Suspended!" My interest peaked. "For name calling?"

"And pushing, I think."

This sparks a lecture through the rear view mirror, directed at my children. I lecture on what bullying is and isn't. I explain to them that bullying consists of someone going out of their way on a regular basis to threaten, harm, tease, harass, and make people generally afraid and uncomfortable to be at school. It's not as simple as name calling.

"I think that's a little excessive," I said condemning the entire notion. "Not everyone in life is going to like you or be nice to you. That doesn't make them a bully."

"Well, our school has a huge bullying problem," she said. "Especially in our class."

"I understand that," I said. "I just think sometimes schools tend to go to the extreme when attaching labels like bulling to playground disagreements and confrontations. Punishing everything is just as dangerous as not punishing anything."

"I don't know what to tell you, Mom. It's going to be a law."

"A law!"

"Well I don't know," she confessed. "I don't understand. We're going to have an assembly."

I take bulling very seriously, but I approach the topic with a level head.

However I don't agree with the policies in place. I don't like that kids who are bullied feel like they can't fight back in fear of getting in trouble, or that parental intervention is discouraged. It's such a helpless position to be in.

It's important for kids to know how to stand up for themselves and others when they find themselves in this position. Rather than always focusing on punishing isolated behaviors to the extreme, schools should focus on giving kids the proper tools to deal with these situations. They should also encourage for the parents of both victim and bully to work together on finding a solution to the problem.

I don't believe parents want their children to be the victim any more than they want them to be the bully.

I'm attending this assembly.

What's your take? I'd love to hear your opinions on this topic.