So, I just watched the documentary, “Bully” a couple of days ago. Man, what a heartbreaking and infuriating film! It’s so sad to see kids pick on others because they are different. What’s worse, is that in the video, you see how the schools and administration [of the schools they followed] were utterly incompetent when it came to stopping the bullying problem. One family held a town hall meeting after their son committed suicide due to bullying, and you see how the police officer at the school, as well as the teaching staff and other faculty did nothing. They would talk and say things like:
- “I’m sorry this happened.”
- “We’ll take care of it.”
- “We’re doing everything we can to stop it.”
What an utter load of crap, in my opinion. I know that in the US, teachers and staff can’t touch children, but if I were a teacher and I saw a student physically abusing another student, I’d step in and stop it- using force, if needed. If there is supposed to be a police liaison at the school, and he is not around when the problem occurs, then another teacher should step in for the safety of the student(s). A parent sends their child to school, trusting that the school and its staff will keep that child (as well as all the other children) safe, and when that isn’t happening then we have a BIG problem.
Bullying isn’t just a problem in the US, but also around the world. Where I live [South Korea], bullying happens here, too. I’ve read news articles and heard stories from students about girls and boys who’ve committed suicide due to bullying. I’m not sure what the schools do here to curb the problem, but hopefully they do more than issue empty promises like many of the schools in the States. I know that here in South Korea, and in other Asian countries, teachers can physically step in if it’s needed. Bullying goes beyond the classroom with the use of the Internet. Instant messaging, Email, and mobile phones are also used as tools to harass victims, both children and teachers. If you ever go onto the website, Reddit, you may find some heartbreaking and terrible stories of bullying. Some places [such as the state of Wisconsin] have legally passed laws to criminalize cyber bullying but it’s difficult to enforce.
So, how do we stop this problem?
- Report bullying as soon as you see it!
- Write down everything you can see or hear if you’re in the vicinity, and bring it to the school administration. If you’re able to get video or photo documentation, get it. That will help clear up any lies or misinformation children or teachers say.
- Be in communication with parents as much as possible. Ask the parents if their child has been telling them what’s going on at school.
- Have students who’ve been bullied talk to a counselor if they feel the need to talk.
- If you, as a teacher, see students show signs of hurting themselves or others, report it right away. Don’t risk the safety of others, even if the student says they’re “joking”.
- Most importantly, be there for the student. Show him/her that you care for them. Too often, bullied kids think there’s no one [or very few] they can talk to; prove them wrong and be that person they can talk to. If they’re too embarrassed to talk with their parents, you can be their confidant.
Bullying is still a major problem in schools around the world, but together we can hopefully end it. Let’s work together to find creative, effective and positive ways to show bullies that what they’re doing is wrong!